The following two worksheets are essential to applying what you have learned. It is vitally important to complete them and follow up by reviewing the material with your wife. If couples are to succeed in building a healthy marriage, they must learn to meet each other’s companionship needs. Please read the instructions below; worksheets follow.
- Worksheet #1 - Husband, do you feel affirmed by your wife?
This worksheet will helphusbands identify specific,God-given companionship needs, and provide guidance for wives. By private and prayerful assessment, a man can reveal his perspective about each area of the relationship, and show his wife how to better meet his needs. Completing this worksheet can lead to new or renewed understanding of why a husband may not be enjoying intimacy and/or companionship with his wife. Often, when a man is not affirmed in some area, his flesh and/or the enemy brings confusion and he seeks consolation elsewhere. Many men, due to this problem, are not investing themselves thoroughly in the marital relationship, and inthe family. This may result in failure to provide the wife’s companionship needs, which we will study in the next lesson. This can become a destructive, downward spiral if not met with trust and confidence in the Word and power of God.
[Read the instructions and example at the bottom of Worksheet #1, to learn how toincorporate it with Worksheet #2.]
- Worksheet #2 - Specific, practical, non-judgmental suggestions for your wife.
The purpose of Worksheet #2 is for the husband to prayerfully write out practical, non-judgmental suggestions his wife can follow to improve her affirmation of him in specific areas. It is importantnot to overwhelma wife initially by working on every area that is not perfect. Instead, give 1 or 2 suggestions for each area where she is graded with 4 or less. Some men may have difficulty completing this worksheet.We exhort you not to abandon the activity, but ask God to influence your suggestions. Be specific, not general. Make the suggestions practical so implementation is possible, and non-judgmental, so not to discourage your wife. Seek additional help from a church leader, an assigned marriage mentor, or your pastor, if necessary.
Men, after you complete the two worksheets and you are ready to discuss this with your wife,make sure she has a note pad to write out, in her own words, responses to your specific, practical, non-judgmental suggestions.
- Find a private place and good time for the two of you to discuss 1 to 2 suggestions from Worksheet #2 for each category from Worksheet #1 where the rating was 4 or lower. Remember, you are to communicate about these areas in ways that glorify Christ. Seek help from a church leader, marriage mentor or your pastor if things become difficult, but do not abandon this exercise.
- We suggest that couples begin this discussion in prayer, asking God for grace and gentleness in communication, a receptive heart-attitude for wives, and protection for both from the enemy and his attempts to discourage obedience.
- Resist any temptation to be defensive or angry. Wives, repeat to your husband what you hear him saying before doing any writing. Be specific in your responsesto his suggestions for increasing your ability to affirm him.
- God blesses obedience.
- Your faithfulness in completing all of the homework is the beginning of a truly wonderful relationship with your spouse in Christ.
- Our transformation takes place only as we abide in Him.This means our daily devotions and our obedience to His Word, including confession and repentance of our mistakes, are critical to this process.
- To see Jesus work miracles, the disciples had to follow Him.
Also remember to practice loving communication, and biblical forgiveness and reconciliation, the tools God uses to break up the hardened soil of our hearts so His Word and grace can have the impact He desires. God can give us the victory if we will come to Him, hear Him, and do what He says.
Examples for Worksheet #2
Here are some examples of non-judgmental, specific suggestions for meeting companionship needs in these areas.
Husband rated wife with a 2 for “accepting your leadership.”
- How can we work together in helping you accept my leadership when addressing spiritual matters with the children? Will you commit to letting me address the issues with kids before you say something and then when we are alone we can discuss the situation so I can hear your input and any suggestions for how I handled it.
Wife received a 1 for “praying together with children”.
- Would you pray with the children and me each day in the morning, or before we go to bed? I would like us to work together as a team in encouraging our children how important prayer is.
Husband gave her a 2 for “Discussing finances”.
- I know that discussing finances is not an easy subject for us, how can we communicate about that? Maybe we can plan a time to get away for a few hours, where we will not be interrupted. That way we can pray and discuss it more thoroughly. And commit to have an expense budget written out by the end of the month.
Wife received a 1 for “always speaks honorably to you.”
- I know that I have not been the best example as we have been learning. I really need your affirmation; it will really help me in working on the needed changes. Can we agree that when we say or do something that is un-affirming or hurtful, if the other person brings it to our attention, we will be open to hear and learn from each other what we can say or do differently? Also, can we set some time aside to discuss how we communicate to each other and start practicing asking forgiveness where we offended each other? Lets work together to bring changes.
Physical and/or Sexual
Wife received a 2 for “regular sexual relations.”
- I would like us to come to some agreement as to how often we would have sexual relations each week. I really need your support and affirmation in this area.
Wife received a 2 for “able to share openly your desires for physical fulfillment”.
- Can we please talk openly about each other’s sexual needs and fulfillment? Maybe we can set some time aside on the weekend to discuss this. (We are going to cover this thoroughly in future lessons, complete with tools and questions to help facilitate this process.)
Wife marked 1 for “Cuddling and hugging”.
- I would like it if we could just sit together,cuddle, hold hands when we are walking and show more outward affection to each other.
Wife received a 2 for “Kissing”.
- It would also be nice if you could kiss me when I come home or when you are leaving whenever possible. This really helps me feel affirmed.
Wife received a 2 for “Willing to trust your decision in discipline of the children”.
- Could you please follow my leadership in the disciplining of the children? I need your support and affirmation when disciplining the children, and it would be very reassuring to the kids and me if you did this.
Husband gave a 1 for “supports rules that have been set by you.”
- Could you please support and follow the rules that have been set by us? If you do not agree with a rule after we have discussed it, lets talk it through. When you support me in this, you are affirming my leadership and it helps me to be a better father.
Husband felt wife deserved a 2 for “always speaks honorably about you in front of the children”.
- Sometimes you speak negatively about or toward me in front of the kids. Do you think we can go into our bedroom and discuss those things that I seem to be doing wrong, and not in front of the children?
Working Together on Companionship Needs
Remember this important fact:
Men and women perceive situations differently, and also respond differently to the same words or actions. This means that a husband and wife will approach mutual problems from a different perspective, and opportunities will arise requiring them to cooperate and compromise.
God created human beings, male and female, and placed unique companionship needs within each. Unique can mean special, or wonderful, but it also means different. A man does not instinctively know or understand the needs of a woman, and vice versa. To have a fulfilling marriage, each spouse needs to be willing to learn how to meet the unique needs of the other.
Since all marriages involve people, and all people are selfish, there is a 100 percent chance that frustrations and disappointments will surface in the relationship. This leads to coping patterns such as anger, insults, bitterness, defensiveness, pouting, stuffing, stewing, and, you get the picture. These become habits that must be broken and replaced with appropriate attitudes and actions.
Getting back to the discussion of perspective, and problems that may arise; this is an opportunity for every man and woman to use the trials of life to both grow personally and to learn how to meet the needs of another. To succeed, we must use God’s Word as a resource, and be committed to listening and communicating properly.
James 1:2-4 says, “My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.”
God says to count it all joy when you experience trials. Why? Because responding in the right spirit will lead to patience, which leads to a state of being that God calls “lacking nothing”. God works in us, but the time it takes to learn depends upon our cooperation. Growth comes when you put your faith in Him by learning His will, following it, and having a deep desire to become holy as He is holy.
So the Bible says that God is allowing our faith to be tested by trials. It also tells us that God is our Father, if we are in Christ, and that He never condemns us but that he disciplines us for our good. We must view difficulties as God-ordained opportunities to seek instruction, grow in the image of Christ, learn more about our spouse’s needs, and become the husband or wife that God intends. The word discipline simply means to train.
Hebrews 12:9-11 says, “Furthermore, we have had human fathers who corrected us, and we paid them respect. Shall we not much more readily be in subjection to the Father of spirits and live? For they indeed for a few days chastened us as seemed best to them, but He for our profit, that we may be partakers of His holiness Now no chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but painful; nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.”
Have you ever been angry with your spouse? Ever wished that your marriage were better, different? Ever blamed your spouse as the primary offender? When you accept the truth that you need to change, and that you need to apply yourself to meeting your spouse’s needs, a surprising thing will happen. Your marriage will improve and so will your spouse’s attitude. This is not about who does more, but about who does right. And God will bless obedience. God is always at work, but remember, without our cooperation the growth that God desires won’t happen.
Philippians 1:6 says, “Being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ.”
This verse includes us becoming the husband or wife God desires us to be.
So, we have discussed the term “companionship needs”, and learned that these are gender specific. For example: one of man’s basic needs is affirmation, and a woman’s is to be nurtured and cherished. We also have stated that awareness of these needs comes through study and communication. If a need is violated, and an offense taken, there is a proper way to bring it into discussion. A husband and wife sincerely desiring to stop bad behavior patterns must agree to use a process something like this:
Acknowledge the offense:
Husband: If your wife says or does something that is un-affirming to you, your response is to say, “that was un-affirming”, in a kind way.
Wife: If your husband says or does something in a non-cherishing or non-nurturing way toward you, your response is to say, “that hurts”, in a kind way.
Apply the response:
Confirm: When your spouse says either “that was un-affirming” or “that hurt”, your response needs to be “I am sorry”, or “help me understand what I did”, stated kindly.
Cooperate: Try and understand your spouse’s perspective. Learning how to better meet their needs requires listening, NOT arguing, accusing, or debating.
Clarify the need: In a loving way, explain to your spouse what they said or did, and offer positive suggestions or alternatives. Remember, this is an opportunity for both partners to learn and change.
A husband makes a negative comment about his wife’s cooking to the children, or a friend, in her presence. His wife takes the earliest opportunity to say to him, in private, “that remark really hurt”. Clarify the need; might include asking him not to joke about her cooking to anyone, and then finding out if there is something different she might do if her cooking can be improve. Note to husband: if something is bothering you, approach it privately and sincerely. Cherish your wife and you will discover she really wants to please you.
A wife sarcastically disagrees with her husband’s perspective on a political issue in front of friends. Latter when no one else is present, he tells her that what she did was not affirming to him. Clarify the need; might include the honest truth that her opinion was argumentative and as such embarrassed him in public. He could offer an alternative as, “If you have a different opinion on a subject, I am willing to discuss it with you privately, but when you disagree or challenge me in front of others, it is un-affirming to me.
Everyone is different; plug in the issues that push your buttons, and come up with your own suggestions. And remember; this is not an opportunity to bring up past things your spouse has done to upset you. In Philippians 2:3, it says that we not to act out of selfish ambition or conceit, but we are to consider others as more important than ourselves; this means your primary concern is learning your spouse’s needs and how to meet them.
“Preference” and “Truth” are Different
Preference means; what one prefers before or above another. It is neither right nor wrong, but personal preference. Can personal preferences be wrong? Yes! If ones personal preference is contrary to the Word and will of God, it is sin and wrong!
Examples of simple preference include, but are not limited to, cuisine, cars, homes, decorating, pets, clothing, music, entertainment, vacation destinations, and lots more. What about the up and down drama of the toilet seat? Preference. Preference requires compromise, which is the difference between preference and truth. Where truth is concerned, there is cooperation, but no compromise. Compromise means to settle differences by mutual concessions. What we know to be God’s Word, or will, is truth, and no concessions apply, only obedience.
Truth is what the Word of God says to do or not do, what is right and wrong behavior.
Deuteronomy 4:2 says, “You shall not add to the word which I command you, nor take from it, that you may keep the commandments of the LORD your God which I command you.”
Preferences that may violate God’s truth can include entertainment (movies, TV, music), selfish sexual desires, manner of dress, friendships, child rearing methods, church attendance, and more. For example, a wife or husband may choose a friend that is inappropriate, or is dragging them into sinful activities; one partner may desire sexually explicit films; or a man may desire sex weekly and his wife denies him and sticks to her once a month preference; a mother may insist on taking the lead in child discipline and not receive her husbands input. When a conflict or situations arises like these, a married couple needs to look into God’s Word and or seek godly counsel to resolve it.
Two Wrongs Never make a Right
We have talked of working together, cooperating, and being mutually kind and considerate, but what if you find that all or most of the effort is coming from you? So be it. Is it right for you to enter into sin and disobedience because the situation seems unfair? God forbid. If we put conditions on our obedience to God, can we expect Him to intercede, help and bless us? The motive behind blessing your spouse and learning how to meet their companionship needs is your love for Jesus and desire to glorify and please Him. As Christians, our source of power, comfort, significance, security, joy, peace and hope comes from God, as we walk in obedience.
We all have failed each other, and will fail again, sometimes by choice and sometimes in ignorance. This is precisely why forgiveness is essential; every person is called by God to practice forgiveness, both by giving it and asking for it.
1 Corinthians 13:4-7 says, “Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.”
When an opportunity arises, follow these 5 simple steps:
- Self-examination: When you feel pain that you believe was caused by your spouse, take a moment and examine your own heart. Ask yourself: is this truly a failure to meet my companionship need, or do I just want my own way? (Use our information on companionship needs for men and women as your self-examination guide.)
- Identification: be able to communicate exactly what was said or done by your spouse that was un-loving, un-affirming, or not cherishing or nurturing.
- Communication: pick a good time to lovingly bring the offense to your spouse’s attention, then conclude by telling them “I do not feel affirmed when you…” (men), or “I do not feel cherished when you…” (women). Be completely open at this point, for communication and clarification, not denial or debate.
- Clarification: propose a clear action plan so that your spouse knows what hurts you, and what they can do differently to meet your companionship need in this particular area, or situation.
- Forgivess: Showing grace and forgiveness toward one another in these learning opportunities is so important. It is our sin nature and the devil’s desire that we focus on the other person’s sin, not our own, and justify an agitated, harsh or sinful response to them when they blow it. Remember, two sins never make anything right.