In The Couples Rulebook we lay out the eight needs that most people have when it comes to relationships. If you’ve read the book already, then you know these needs. If you haven’t checked it out yet, then here’s a simple example of how our needs (and those of our partner) can lead to trouble.
Some people need stability. Others may need variety. In our relationship, Beverly needs variety. She loves to do things and have experiences. She doesn’t own a lot of material things, she’d rather spend her money on doing things with the people that have a connection with her. She’s more likely to enjoy a hike with her family than she is to enjoy a new television. Randy is a stability. He moved a lot as a kid, so he’s got this need for things that feel familiar. His idea of a great vacation is a staycation on his couch with absolutely no plans or requirements. See the problem? Our needs conflict. A lot.
It’s easy to say that maybe a couple with different needs is mismatched and generally doesn’t end up together but it’s waaaaaaaaaaay more complicated than that. Early on in the relationship, Randy was drawn to Beverly’s adventurous side. It was something that was missing in his first marriage. Beverly loved that Randy was stable, she’d never really experienced that before in life. At different times in our lives we need different things.
For us, resolving the conflict of the things that we need is as simple as communicating often. A weekend off generally has one variety day and one stability day. A vacation often throws in one of Beverly’s grown children so that they provide her with adventure while Randy does a whole bunch of nothing. It’s a compromise that works.
Needs are different. Explore your needs with your partner and work to understand their needs. Together you can find ways to get all those needs met… and that makes for a much better relationship.
And that’s only two of the eight needs. How would you and your partner work through the differing needs for things like love? And intimacy?