There is an age-old question we are asked here at Affaircare pretty regularly. “So if my needs are not being met in my marriage, and I told my spouse but they just aren’t interested…what do I do?” I think married couples throughout the centuries have struggled with this question, and since it’s often the justification for an affair, I thought it would be a wise idea to address this question.
The first thing is that we are looking at marriage backward. In our society we’ve been taught/told that love is a feeling, that the person who loves you will automatically know what to do and how to do it, that when you love someone it will “come naturally,” and that the person you love who loves you will “complete you” and meet your every need almost intuitively. The reason we get married is because we feel some sort of deep feelings that bond us together, and we marry to have OUR needs met.
In real life ….love is an ACTION, not a feeling at all. When you love someone, you may not know them all that well, may not know their entire life history yet, may not know how they deal with the ups and downs of life, but you make a commitment to spend a lifetime studying them and learning how to love them. You volunteer to share your thoughts and feelings and life with your spouse, so that they see the True You and come to KNOW you deeply…intimately…and you come to KNOW them. You learn how to love them and what to do, because not everyone is shown love in the same way. And if they aren’t shown love the same way you are, it can be really confusing or hard …. or feel unnatural! In real life the reason we get married is to spend a lifetime meeting OUR SPOUSE’S needs!
So if you look at it from the proper point of view, “having your needs met” is not a goal of being married. The goal (well….ONE of the goals) is for you to learn how to meet your spouse’s needs. Let’s look at a few Biblical examples:
1. Abigail — 1 Samuel 25. King David is in this sort of rural area, and some bad guys are hassling some farmers and shepherds–you know bullying. So King David and his group fend off the bullies, and then ask the owner of the land they just defended if he would mind sharing some food and supplies. The owner is pretty much a JERK! His name is Nabal, and you guessed it, he is Abigail’s husband. He pretty much tells King David and his men to shove it and is very disrespectful to the men who just saved him. Naturally the men with King David are angry about being disrespected, so they grab their weapons and head to Nabal’s to give him a piece of their mind. Here’s where Abigail comes in!
Abigail hears about her husband’s bad attitude and the bad choices he made, and she wisely knows he’s about to be in a world of hurt! So she prepares a feast and the supplies that King David’s men asked for and more, and she gets on her own donkey and rides to meet the angry mob of men. She risks her own husband’s anger, but even moreso she risks her life confronting these angry men! Then she does the most amazing thing possible: she humbles herself before King David and asks him not to be mad at her husband. but to place the blame on her in his place.
Now Abigail could have easily thought “MAN why am I married to such a jerk? He’s mean; he pisses off the neighbors; he’s cranky; and now he’s made a whole group so mad they’re about to attack us! What about MY emotional needs! Why should I put up with such a curmudgeon? Surely I deserve to be happy and loved…right?” But do you see that anywhere in this bible passage? No. Nor do we see God “telling her” that she deserves to be treated gently and that it’s okay for her to break up her marriage and leave her husband to get her needs met! Nope we see that Abigail is admired for her virtue, and what was her virtue? She was loyal and faithful. Her husband was a jerk, and she showed him by her ACTIONS what a woman of God would act like. She ACTED in wisdom and love even when he was a spouse with whom it was hard to live!
What does Abigail teach you about when your spouse won’t meet your needs?
2. Hosea — The whole book of Hosea! In this book of the Bible, through this prophet, God chooses to reveal our problem that we have with Him by using the biblical model of marriage to show us that our sinful behavior is like adultery to Him. Hosea is commanded to find a woman of harlotry and marry her, and in the first chapter he reveals the problem at hand. In the second chapter, Hosea catches his wife, Gomer, in an affair, and he responds as expected; in a furious rant! After all, adultery is the most painful thing a person can live through, even more painful than a death in the family. In the third chapter, Hosea is told by God to “Go Find Your Wife!” and when he does find her, she is being sold in the slave market as a prostitute. He has to pay such a great price to get her out of the slave market that Hosea literally loses EVERYTHING.
In this entire book, nowhere does God tell Hosea it is okay for him to leave his prostitute wife “to get his needs met.” In fact, God specifically uses Hosea’s faithfulness to an adulterous wife as an image of how faithful He has been to us even though we have been like wives selling ourselves to others! And the third chapter… not only does God NOT say “Okay now your needs will finally be met, Hosea” but in order to redeem Gomer out of the slave market he has to lose EVERY THING. The adultery is painful; the cost of redeeming her is STEEP!!! But still he does it, and it is a wonderful image of how God has treated us.
What does Hosea teach you about when your spouse won’t meet your needs?
3. Mary — Matthew 1:18-25, 2:1-12, Luke 1:26-38, Luke 1:46-56, Luke 2:1-7, Luke 2:8-20. We are all familiar with Mary, the mother of Jesus. Her story is an amazing one–miraculous really. For His own reasons, God chose HER as the means by which His Son, our Lord, would come onto this planet in human form. But think about Mary for a moment. She was a younger Jewish girl, in an area that was not particularly “well to do”…at a time when Jews were pretty oppressed by the Romans. She was engaged to a nice young man in her town, looking forward to her wedding, and BOOM here comes God saying He’s going to make her pregnant and it will be the Messiah. Okay that’s all well and good, but how is she going to explain that to her fiance? According to Jewish law, he would have every right to throw her out on her ear and she’d NEVER get married because her reputation would be tarnished. But does Mary say “Hey God, what about MY needs? I’ll be an outcast! No one will love me! I’ll end up homeless or who knows what!”
No. Her reply is to magnify the Lord!! Verbatim, she said “Here I am” giving herself fully to the Lord to do as He wills. Then she follows that up with “My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant” WOW. Her needs were not going to be met at all and she gave glory to GOD!!
What does Mary teach you about when your spouse won’t meet your needs?
When you are looking to your spouse to meet your needs, you are looking in the wrong place.
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