This follow up on yesterday’s post Wants versus Needs – please read that first.
If you, or your bride, want to use “survival” as the line between what we want and what we need, that’s fine. However, this leaves a great many things in the “want” category, and makes denying things based on “want, not need” rather pointless. On a more practical level, calling something a want does not make someone feel any less bad about having that thing denied.
When you love someone enough to marry them, and they claim to love you in the same way, you expect that their love will motivate them to do more than just provide you with the things you need to survive. If someone does not care about what I want, then it is reasonable to think they don’t care about me. Limiting what they give me to what they think I need certainly does not make me feel loved!
This is true for the man (or woman) who hears “No” to the majority of their requests for sex. It is also true for any reasonable thing a spouse routinely refuses to do, or to try to do. (Of course, “it’s not reasonable” then becomes the next way to justify not giving something, but that’s another post.) Keep refusing to meet your spouse’s wants, and they will feel like you don’t love them; they will also feel decreasing love for you. In marriage, the line “You would if you loved me” is not just a way of manipulating someone – there is a good deal of truth in that sentiment. Conversely, it would be valid to say “You’re not doing that makes me feel you don’t love me.” It does not matter if what is not being done is sex, picking up your socks, taking out the trash, or keeping the house looking halfway neat – the principle is the same.
So, what do you do if something you want strongly is not being done? Find a way to express to your spouse what things you desire very strongly as opposed to those things you would like but won’t feel deprived if you don’t get. Ask her to do the same. You could use a zero to ten scale, with zero being not wanted at all, and ten being very important. For this to be of any use, you will both have to agree to accept what the others says as valid. You are two different people, and how much you each want something is going to vary significantly. If it’s a ten to her, then it’s a ten to her – even if it’s a zero to you. Likewise with things you rate high that she rates low.
Once you each have a list, you will know what is important and what is not. Focus on the important things – it’s what matters to your spouse, and doing those things are what will make your spouse feel loved.