A long time ago, on the island of Oahu in the Hawaiian Islands, an unusual custom was observed. For a daughter’s hand in marriage cows were paid by a prospective husband to her family. The regular rate was three cows for a wife. If the girl was very special, four cows would be given, and there was an unconfirmed story that a young lady a very long time ago had gone for the amazing sum of five cows.
Now the story goes that there was one father who had two daughters. The younger one was very pretty, the older one was what our society would call a “reject” or a “loser.” Her father had determined that he only expected to receive two cows for his older daughter, and if the suitor was a good bargainer, he was willing to let her go for only one cow. The truth is Old Dad was willing to rid himself of the burden of having to feed her all her life for no cows at all.
When Johnny Lingo, the richest man on the island, came to his home, there was no doubt that he had come to see the younger daughter. Everyone was stunned when he called on the older daughter. Old Dad was overjoyed. Since Johnny was a wealthy man and known to be generous, Old Dad expected him to pay at least the standard sum of three cows or even four cows. You can imagine his utter shock when Johnny came to claim his bride and brought ten cows with him! Old Dad almost had a heart attack! He quickly called the tribal chief to perform the ceremony, before Johnny could change his mind.
Then it was the custom for honeymoons to last one year. However, with a ten-cow bride, you do not take a three-cow honeymoon. So two years later, the couple was welcomed back with great excitement. The groom was instantly recognized by a lookout, but the bride had changed dramatically and he did not recognize her at first. Instead of a shy and homely girl, she was now a beautiful and confident young lady; her charm was so great, that some thought that Johnny had gotten a bargain by paying “only “ten cows.
Now you may think this is just a fairy tale, but think of it this way: “Give your mate something to live up to, not down to, and you will have a better mate, which is the key to a better marriage.”
You can have a successful marriage by . . .Meeting Your Mate’s Needs
When you get married, you give up the solitary life. You pledge yourself to another person for the rest of your life. That means that you accept responsibility for the welfare of that person. Marriage is not just about having your needs met; it is also about meeting the needs of your spouse.
In fact, meeting the needs of your mate is the essence of love. When you truly love someone with the kind of love required in the Bible, your primary concern is for that person’s well-being. When you love your husband or wife with Christian love, you want more than anything for his or her needs to be met.
What needs does your mate have?
Obviously, your mate has physical needs. You both need food, clothes, and shelter. In the New Testament, the husband is given special responsibility for providing for the physical needs of the family.
1 Timothy 5:8 (ESV) But if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.
He must take that responsibility seriously. He cannot be lazy, deliberately avoiding work or failing to hold onto a job. Sometimes he may have to postpone the fulfillment of his own dreams for the welfare of the family. The wife is given the responsibility of ruling the house.
1 Timothy 5:14 (ESV) So I would have younger widows marry, bear children, manage their households, and give the adversary no occasion for slander.
Titus 2:5 (ESV) …to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled.
Each should help the other take care of herself or himself physically. Among the physical needs which must be met in marriage are sexual needs. Both partners in the marriage must accept the responsibility to satisfy each other’s sexual needs.
1 Corinthians 7:1-40 (ESV)
1 Now concerning the matters about which you wrote: “It is good for a man not to have sexual relations with a woman.”
2 But because of the temptation to sexual immorality, each man should have his own wife and each woman her own husband.
3 The husband should give to his wife her conjugal rights, and likewise the wife to her husband.
4 For the wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does. Likewise the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does.
5 Do not deprive one another, except perhaps by agreement for a limited time, that you may devote yourselves to prayer; but then come together again, so that Satan may not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.
In addition, each marriage partner has social needs that the other can help to meet. Everyone needs companionship and friendship—to be part of a social network of fellow human beings who will help and encourage them.
Of course, the husband and the wife should be one another’s best friends and closest companions. God created woman so man would not be alone. However, one’s friendship with a spouse may not satisfy every social need.3 A woman may feel the need for a circle of female friends; a man may want to be with other men now and then—to go fishing or hunting or to enjoy athletic activities or discussions with others who share his interests. The husband and the wife should recognize each other’s needs and should not feel rejected when a mate wants to spend time
The fact that God provided the church as a place of togetherness for Christians of both sexes suggests that He did not intend for people’s social needs to be fully satisfied by the marriage relationship with others who have comparable roles in life. Spouses should allow/encourage one another to meet those needs. Of course, no group of friends should ever come between a man and his wife. Always, a mate should have precedence in one’s affections and allocation of time.
EMOTIONAL OR PSYCHOLOGICAL NEEDS
Furthermore, a husband and a wife should be concerned about meeting one another’s emotional and psychological needs.
Needs Which Men and Women Share
A man and a woman have similar emotional or psychological requirements, but their needs may not be satisfied in the same way. Both need to feel loved, appreciated, and valued. Both need to view themselves as competent and useful, to believe that they are making a valuable contribution to society and to the family. All people want to fulfill their potential by accomplishing something worthwhile and to know that their lives have meaning. Both men and women want to be valued members of a group—a family, a church, a work group, a civic or political organization, a club, or an ethnic or national group—that will help to provide them with a social identity. To a lesser or greater degree, everyone wants the approval of peers and a sense of security regarding the future.
However, because men and women differ, each partner in the marriage needs to be sensitive to the other’s feelings. Try to picture yourself in your spouse’s situation. Ask, “How would my mate feel about this?”
For example, men usually get their sense of self-worth from their work; if a man’s work goes badly, or if he loses his job, he is likely to become discouraged and to think of himself as useless. (Then it may be unpleasant to live with him.) At such a time, his wife needs to be understanding and encouraging.
On the other hand, a woman may feel the results of an “empty nest“ when all the children are grown. Her husband ought to recognize her needs and try to meet them. The husband must let his wife know that she is appreciated and help her to see the importance of what she is now doing.
The husband especially must be sensitive to his wife’s needs. Men are notoriously unaware of how their wives are feeling. Males are inclined to think only about facts and look with disdain on their wives’ focus on feelings. What men need to understand is that feelings are facts! Whatever the other facts may be, it is a fact that the wife feels a certain way.
Her feelings may be more important for her happiness and for the good of the marriage than what he regards as facts. The Christian husband, no matter how difficult he may find the task, must learn to respond to his wife’s emotions. To the extent possible, the husband ought to do whatever he can to make his wife happy, and the wife should likewise help her husband to be happy.
Specific Needs of Men and Women
The husband and the wife each have additional needs which the other can meet. While he was president of Oklahoma Christian College, James Baird discussed marriage at a speaking engagement in Sydney, Australia. One point he made was that studies have shown that women, more than anything, want to be loved; men above all want to be respected. He went on to say that the Bible provides for the satisfaction of those major needs. What does it require that men give to their wives? Love! Ephesians 5:25 says, “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her.” What does it require that women give to their husbands? Submission, or respect! (See Ephesians 5:22–24.) In other words, he said, if a husband and a wife treat one another in the way the Bible requires, they will be meeting one another’s most important needs.
A woman’s need for love. A man should love his wife with an unselfish love that seeks always to show his love for her.
A man’s need for respect. A woman ought to respect her husband. A man wants to feel loved too—but, more than anything else, he needs to know that he is a real man, worthy of respect and honor. The wife can meet this need, for one thing, by allowing him to be a man—by not demanding that he give up all “manly” behavior patterns just because he is married. In addition, the wife can respect her husband by indicating her willingness to accept his leadership in the home. Just as a man will reap benefits from satisfying his wife’s need for love, a woman will find that her husband will respond generously if she treats him with love and respect.
In addition, both men and women have spiritual needs which they can help one another meet. More than anything else, of course, they need to be saved, to be forgiven of their sins, and to go to heaven. On their way to heaven, they must be active members of the church. In the church they can find a sense of belonging and identity and a feeling that they are involved in something worthwhile.
A husband and a wife should try to build up one another spiritually. If one or the other is not a Christian, the fondest hope of the Christian husband or wife is for that mate to be converted. To such an end the Christian will work and pray. If both the husband and the wife are Christians, then each will encourage the other to “stand firm” in the Lord’s army. Each will patiently, lovingly, and forgivingly help the other to develop Christian virtues. Each will encourage the other to use his or her talents for the Lord.
She may encourage him to preach or teach, or to use his talents—whether bookkeeping or dentistry or gardening or carpentry—in God’s service. She can assist him in cultivating the qualifications of a deacon or an elder. He may help her to become more hospitable, encouraging her to have people into their home. He may urge her to teach a Bible class, to mentor young women, or to use her talents—whether they relate to homemaking abilities, work-related skills, or educational attainments—in the kingdom of God.
If husband and wife succeed in meeting each other’s spiritual needs, then they will be rewarded—not only with a full and happy life here, but also with a home in heaven hereafter. They can both look forward to being welcomed to the greatest family reunion of all: the reunion of the saints of all the ages with one another and with the heavenly Father.
Joined as One
In the Christian bond of wedlock, a man and a woman are joined together not by a registrar or by a minister, but by God Almighty Himself. Marriage is not, for the Christian, a mere legal contract, terminable at any time by mutual consent of the parties concerned, or by the infidelity of one of them. It is a spiritual experience in which two souls are made one by the Creator of them both. That is why the church has always taken such a strong stand against divorce. Man must not put asunder what God has joined together.
Yes! God makes a man and a woman one in wedlock, but that does not absolve them from the duty of maintaining the matrimonial union.
How is this to be done?
- See “eye to eye.” Perhaps that seems to overstate what should be done, but the couple that does not try to see matters alike never will!
- Talk “heart to heart.”
- Walk “hand in hand.” Do not merely tolerate one another’s existence and go your respective ways.
- Kneel “side by side.” “The family that prays together stays together.”
In a home that is built on a spiritual foundation, love is the ultimate principle that will determine the behavior of the husband and the wife. Love will be evident as both husband and wife unselfishly do all they can to meet one another’s needs. Needs in every area should be met: physical, social, emotional or psychological, and spiritual. If each partner is making the greatest possible effort to meet the other’s needs, the home will be happy. Its inhabitants will find satisfaction and fulfillment, and the marriage will last!