Summary: Part 1 in 2-part mini-series, Dave and Christy Flowers examine needs three and four on Willard Harley’s list of the top needs for men and women, and shows that meeting needs for our spouses is simply a concrete way of practicing the Biblical call to submi
Ways to Submit (for women AND men), prt. 1
Joint Lecture w/ Christy Flowers, M.A.
Wildwind Community Church
March 21, 2010
About six years ago Christy and I did a joint sermon based on the book His Needs, Her Needs, by Willard Harley. We got a lot of positive feedback on it and quite a few people asked if we could do it again. We had talked about doing it this past February, but with the need to bring financial and building information to you, we just weren’t able to fit it in. So we’re going to do this today and next week. Then, on Easter Sunday, we’re actually going to begin a brand-new series from the Gospel of John, and I hope you will be inviting your friends to that service. We don’t want to have your friends coming on Easter and END a series on that day – far better to kick off a new one on that day, so that is the plan.
Back to Willard Harley. Harley wrote a book in 1986 called His Needs, Her Needs. You might think, “1986? That was almost 25 years ago.” And of course you’d be right. But ten years later, in May of 1996, His Needs, Her Needs entered its forty-second printing. I can’t even imagine what it’s up to now. So if you’ll allow me to don my marriage counselor hat for a moment, I want to just lend a little cred to this book, especially here 25 years after it was written. It was based on the clinical experience of Dr. Willard Harley and the observations come from about thirty-thousand hours of work with couples. If Harley were to write His Needs, Her Needs today, I think the needs would probably be pretty much the same. Then again, I don’t think it matters all that much, because far more important than what the particular needs are that are listed is whether or not you as a spouse are attentive to your spouse’s needs and willing to place them at the top of your priority list. If that is your attitude, then whether it is this book, or Love and Respect, or Prepare/Enrich, or the work of John Gray or John Gottman or Gary Smalley, chances are good that you will be able to use marriage-building principles to make your marriage better. In the final analysis, it is attentiveness and openness that matters most.
I like His Needs, Her Needs not only because I think the list of needs is almost timeless, but because it is presented as a list. It is easy to teach to other people and pretty easy to remember. I also like how it presents a woman’s top needs and a man’s top needs. Of course this isn’t to imply that women don’t have the needs on the men’s list, or that every man or woman will have every need on their list, or that men won’t sometimes find that the needs on the women’s list seem to fit them more or that women may not sometimes find that the needs on the men’s list fit them better. Admittedly, these are generalities, but there’s no way we can ever talk about more than one couple at a time if we don’t generalize. Still, overall, I think the lists are pretty solid.
Next, I want to tell you something important about how to use the information Christy and I will be giving you today and next week. You should be able to listen to these messages and put a few of the principles into action and see a difference in your marriage fairly quickly. If you cannot even imagine trying any of these things until your spouse pulls it together and meets your needs first, or if you have no desire to meet your spouse’s needs, or if trying to talk about these things produces angry arguments, your marriage needs more help than what we can give here and I hope you will see me about a referral for counseling. Seriously, every marriage no matter how good should be able to get better with application of these principles, and if yours cannot – for any of the reasons I’ve listed – it’s because you simply need more in-depth help than we can give in this format.
It’s safe to say men and women are different. Usually they are radically different. I was telling Christy yesterday that in my opinion there are two critical things that should be required in our schools. One is principles of financial responsibility and money management and the other is a class on how the sexes can better understand one another. Truly. Boys and girls are just put into school with each other and left to find out on their own how deep the divide can be between them. This of course is a source of constant heartache beginning even in grade school. And then, of course, after we have crashed and burned in one relationship after another in jr. high and high school, we then go into the work world and have to work with the other sex and are just as confused there as we were in school. Then we find that getting married doesn’t even cure the confusion – if anything it deepens it. We just really struggle sometimes to understand each other. I think it’s a shame that in this critical area of life we are left to completely fend for ourselves. It’s no wonder people are so resistant to getting counseling. You can go all the way to the Ph.D level in our educational system and never learn a single thing about how to relate to the opposite sex. This would be no big deal, of course, if that had no effect on your life, but of course ignorance in this area causes a lot of pain and suffering. At least we could send the signal at an early age that the other sex is different and that we must be intentional if we are to hope to understand them at all.