What do husbands and wives need in a relationship?  Sure, there are many things they want, but what do they really need?

In my study for marriage enrichment, I ran across a book by Willard Harley, Jr. called His Needs, Her Needs. Harley puts forth his researched take on the top five needs of men and women.


***Warning—Please Read***

Quite honestly, I find that husbands and wives talk about these things…but not with each other. In my marriage enrichment classes, I use Harley’s book as a discussion starter. And, man (!) do we have some discussion. Read Harley’s lists below and tell me where you agree, where you disagree, and where you are downright offended. Share these with your spouse and get the conversation started.


The Needs of a Woman (From Harley’s His Needs, Her Needs)

  1. Affection

Affection symbolizes security, protection, comfort, and approval. Harley says this is the first thing a wife cannot do without.

  1. Conversation

Conversation that satisfies a woman’s need must focus on the events of her day, people she may have encountered, and, most of all, how she feels about them.

  1. Honesty and Openness

Mistrust destroys security and oneness in a relationship. She needs to trust him totally.

  1. Financial Support

Harley says that women need to live comfortably. Wealth is not an issue. Care and protection are.

  1. Family Commitment

She needs him to be a good father. Harley recommends fifteen hours a week of quality family time. This amount always provokes a lot of discussion in our classes. Do you think this is possible/realistic?


The Needs of a Man (From Harley’s His Needs, Her Needs)

  1. Sexual Fulfillment

No surprise there…. A man feels cheated when he has agreed to limit his sexual experience to a wife who is unwilling to meet this vital need.

  1. Recreational Companion

Recreational activities develop fun and friendship. It is amazing how many couple do things recreationally before they are married, then don’t make the time for fun activities after they are married.

  1. An Attractive Spouse

Your husband is attracted to you. That’s why he married you. Taking care of yourself not only enhances your self-esteem but is important to your husband. Harley explains that this is a simple matter of pride. It may sound like a base motive, but it is all too real in most men.

  1. Domestic Support

A man’s home is his castle. He needs calm not chaos. Harley writes,

So deep is a husband’s need for domestic support from his wife that he often fantasizes about how she will greet him lovingly and pleasantly at the door, about well-behaved children who likewise act glad to see him and welcome him to the comfort of a well-maintained home. The fantasy continues as his wife urges him to sit down and relax before taking part in a tasty dinner, its aroma already wafting through the air. Conversation at dinner includes nothing controversial. Later the family goes out together for an early evening stroll, and he returns to put the children to bed with no hassle or fuss. Then he and his wife relax and talk together, perhaps watch a little television, and go to bed to make love, all at a reasonable hour.

A lot of wives may chuckle as they read the above scenario, but I assure you it is quite common in the fantasy lives of many husbands

                                                                                                -His Needs, Her Needs—134


My wife, Lori, thinks this statement from Harley is not only unrealistic, but puts too much pressure on a wife who is busy 24/7 balancing the balls of home, children, and possibly work. What do you think?

  1. Admiration

He needs her to be proud of him.


Okay, there are Harley’s top five needs for a man and a woman. Let me know where you think he is right on, missing the point, or out to lunch.