Marriage Enrichment Instrument

Vickie and I have put together an instrument based on Willard Harley’s books and web pages (marriagebuilders.com) for marriage enrichment. We offer it to you here for use in your own marriage. You might also find it useful as a way to encourage others to strengthen their marriages, if you think they might be willing to spend a bit of time working through these issues together.

Stay in the Battle!

Steve Hall

Marriage Mentoring Outline

(Developing a Plan of Action)

(Based on Concepts in His Needs Her Needs and Love Busters and at www.marriagebuilders.com by Willard Harley)


Introduction
Willard Harley has developed a marriage building concept based on the insight that while men and women often have the same basic emotional needs, they tend to rank them very differently. What may make a wife feel loved does not necessarily make her husband feel loved, and vice versa. Using Harley’s materials as a starting point, we have constructed this guideline for helping husbands and wives compose a list of behavior changes that would make each spouse feel more loved by the other.

Often marriages get into trouble because a husband is doing things that he believes should communicate love to his wife. And she is doing things that she believes should communicate love for him. But neither may be doing the things that truly make the other feel loved. Each spouse must communicate to the other, very honestly but graciously, exactly what makes him/her feel loved and how well he/she feel his/her spouse is doing at meeting those needs.

Process
The husband gets “put on the spot” first. (He’s supposed to be the stronger!) Therefore, his wife gets to express herself first. (The husband will have opportunity to go through the same process later.)

Ask the wife each of the following questions, making notes of her responses, asking clarifying questions as necessary. At the end, reverse the roles and ask the husband the same questions.

Stress that honesty is critical. Resist the temptation to say what you think you should say and try to say what you honestly think and feel. Just say it graciously.

Mentors must make sure that each spouse speaks in a gracious tone of voice and is allowed  to communicate his/her feelings thoroughly.

For each emotional need ask two questions:

(1) How well does he/she meet this need? (a) No problem here; (b) There could be some improvement here; (c) Big problems here;

(2) How important is this to you? (a) Not important; (b) Slightly important; (c) Very important

If answer to 1st question is either b or c, ask “Could you give any specific reasons why you chose b or c?” Note-taker should read back notes to insure that it is written correctly.

Finally, after completing this page, pick one or two of the most important to you for your spouse to zero in on. The plan of action will be for each spouse to make improvement in these areas before next meeting.

Repeat the entire process with the husband.

Mentors and couple keep copies. Construct a ranked list with specific behaviors for both husband and wife to work on changing. Acknowledge the difficulty of changing ingrained bad habits. Pray for grace and strength for each to spouse to make genuine progress in communicating love in a way that blesses his/her spouse. Evaluate progress at next appointment.

Emotional Needs


Affection (communicating love by hugs, cuddling, kissing, holding hands, being courteous, notes, calls, etc.)

How well does he/she meet this need?  (1) No problem here; (2) There could be some improvement here; (3) Big problems here;

How important is this to you? (1) Not important; (2) Slightly important; (3) Very important


Sexual fulfillment (includes satisfaction with  frequency of intercourse as well as the quality of sexual intimacy)

How well does he/she meet this need?  (1) No problem here; (2) There could be some improvement here; (3) Big problems here;

How important is this to you? (1) Not important; (2) Slightly important; (3) Very important


Conversation (includes amount of conversation as well as quality of conversation; talking about the events of the day, feelings and plans, making you feel comfortable and not under attack, showing interest in what you want to talk about, listening and asking appropriate questions, undivided attention, avoiding ridicule and sarcasm, not feeling pressured to agree with spouse, communication of forgiveness for past sins as opposed to “guilt trip” attempts)

How well does he/she meet this need?  (1) No problem here; (2) There could be some improvement here; (3) Big problems here;

How important is this to you? (1) Not important; (2) Slightly important; (3) Very important


Recreational Companionship (Doing “fun” things together; going places and doing things together instead of separately; Have you identified the types of recreational activity that you both enjoy? Is he/she willing to give up activities you do separately in order to find things you enjoy doing together?)


How well does he/she meet this need?  (1) No problem here; (2) There could be some improvement here; (3) Big problems here;

How important is this to you? (1) Not important; (2) Slightly important; (3) Very important



Honesty and Openness (revealing true feelings, events of the past, of the day, schedule, plans, avoiding giving false impressions, avoiding “little white lies,” truthfully answering questions, spouse willing to give up “privacy,” accountable to you at all times to your satisfaction)

How well does he/she meet this need?  (1) No problem here; (2) There could be some improvement here; (3) Big problems here;

How important is this to you? (1) Not important; (2) Slightly important; (3) Very important



Physical Attractiveness (keeping physically fit, proper diet and exercise, wearing hair and clothing & makeup (wife only!) that makes you feel attracted, personal hygiene, weight control, are you really happy or are you just saying you are happy because it seems the “right thing to say”?)

How well does he/she meet this need?  (1) No problem here; (2) There could be some improvement here; (3) Big problems here;

How important is this to you? (1) Not important; (2) Slightly important; (3) Very important



Financial Support (willing to work, bring in an income, contribute to paying bills and maintaining standard of living, thrifty, not a spendthrift, tries to stick to a budget, willing to live within income, controls indebtedness)

How well does he/she meet this need?  (1) No problem here; (2) There could be some improvement here; (3) Big problems here;

How important is this to you? (1) Not important; (2) Slightly important; (3) Very important



Domestic Support (helps with household chores, tasks shared equitably, makes home a refuge from stress)

How well does he/she meet this need?  (1) No problem here; (2) There could be some improvement here; (3) Big problems here;

How important is this to you? (1) Not important; (2) Slightly important; (3) Very important



Family Commmitment (spends enough time with children for Christian growth, education, reading, taking them out, appropriate discipline)

How well does he/she meet this need?  (1) No problem here; (2) There could be some improvement here; (3) Big problems here;

How important is this to you? (1) Not important; (2) Slightly important; (3) Very important



Admiration (frequently acknowledges your strong points, expresses respect and appreciation)

How well does he/she meet this need?  (1) No problem here; (2) There could be some improvement here; (3) Big problems here;

How important is this to you? (1) Not important; (2) Slightly important; (3) Very important


Love Busters

Biggest problem: We don’t feel the hurt we cause others, we only feel the hurt they cause us. Therefore we tend to think what we do to hurt them is “no big deal” and that what they do to hurt us is a big deal. We have to take each other at our word.

For each of these answer: Does my spouse need to make changes here? (1) No problem here; (2) sometimes this is a problem; (3) Big time problem here. If the answer is 2 or 3 try to give specific examples.

Selfish Demands (“I don’t care what you want or how you feel, do it!” controlling; manipulative; first stage of verbal abuse; –alternative: thoughtful requests and discussion)

(1) No problem here; (2) sometimes this is a problem; (3) Big time problem here.


Disrespectful Judgments (tries to make you feel stupid, lazy, selfish; tries to straighten you out, lectures instead of discusses, isn’t willing to listen to your point of view, ridicules, therefore is being arrogant, rude,


(1) No problem here; (2) sometimes this is a problem; (3) Big time problem here.


Angry Outbursts (volume of voice increases, “I’ll make you regret that!”; He/she decides reasoning won’t work with you, so must be “taught a lesson”; makes you feel unsafe and insecure; seems to want to hurt you emotionally if not physically

(1) No problem here; (2) sometimes this is a problem; (3) Big time problem here.


Annoying Habits (irritating habits; may seem trivial but since they are repeated they make big withdrawals over time; humming, finger drumming, knee bouncing, teeth sucking, the way he/she eats, the way he/she talks)


(1) No problem here; (2) sometimes this is a problem; (3) Big time problem here.


Independent Behavior (doing what he/she wants to do when he/she wants to do it without consideration of how you  feel; making plans that leave you out; plans may be big (e.g. a trip) or small (to watch a tv program) but are done without your enthusiastic agreement; is not willing to negotiate)


(1) No problem here; (2) sometimes this is a problem; (3) Big time problem here.


Dishonesty (habit of telling little white lies to cover up “problems”; builds walls between the two of you with “secrets”; thinks the immediate pain of telling the truth is worse than the long range destruction of dishonesty)


(1) No problem here; (2) sometimes this is a problem; (3) Big time problem here.

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