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Nation Spouse Day: Three Books Every Couple Should Read

Buy these three books and go through them with your spouse!

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As we celebrate National Spouse Day, here are three great books that every couple should read. They are The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman, His Needs, Her Needs, by Willard Harley Jr, and Love and Respect by Emmerson Eggerichs.

Excerpted from the book, Better the Second Time, which can be found here.

The Five Love Languages is a book that teaches you the five basics “languages” that you can learn to “speak” to your spouse to meet his or her needs.

Trending on PolitiCrossing.com: Tucker: Because of Joe Biden, it’s that simple

His Needs, Her Needs is a list of the five strongest emotional needs of both men and women in relationships.

Love and Respect is based on the theory that a woman most wants love from her husband and a man most wants respect from his wife.

As I go through my thoughts on each of these books, I think it will give us plenty to think about as it relates to how we can help meet the deepest needs of our spouse. Now, one might think, It isn’t my job to meet my spouse’s needs. He/She should be fulfilled in and of him/herself. This is faulty thinking and the kind that may leave your spouse feeling empty and contribute to the breakdown of your marriage.

The marriage relationship is obviously a unique relationship. It is the closest of all human relationships. There is something mystical and spiritual about it. It is a union. Historical Christian teaching has used the term describing how a couple “becomes one flesh.”

When we commit to another person we are called upon to take seriously how we may meet one another’s needs. No person is an island unto himself. We all have needs and many of those needs cannot be met by ourselves. In marriage we have that special relationship with another person who can bring fulfillment to those needs, like two pieces of the puzzle coming together to complete the whole picture.

As you go through these lists, take time to read and contemplate them. Talk to your spouse about them. In the case of The Five Love Languages, figure out which one or two are your spouse’s and learn to communicate to them using their love language.

Since an amazing marriage is predicated on ever-growing people, learning and applying what they learn, I would encourage you to get one or all of these books and go through them with your spouse.

With that, let’s take a look at the principles of each of these three books.

The Five Love Languages

Chapman’s book says that there are certain things that speak to our spouse. These are the love languages that make our spouse feel loved and cared for. The languages that Chapman writes about are:

Gift-Giving
Quality Time
Words of Affirmation
Acts of Service
Physical Touch

As you read through those can you see how one or two of those might be more important to you than the others? The same is true for your spouse. The importance of this is that when we speak our spouse’s love language is when they feel best. Of course different people have different languages. One issue that arises is that often one spouse will speak the language they like best but it isn’t the language that their spouse enjoys the most. You may love words of affirmation and so you speak words of affirmation to your spouse when in fact they would feel much more love, care, and attention if you would clean out the dishwasher (an act of service).

One of the most powerful dynamics of my and Denise’s relationship is that we share the same top two love languages. That makes it easy for us to speak the other’s language. Both Denise and I have Words of Affirmation and Physical Touch (which includes but is not limited to sexual touch) as our top two. So if you could hear our conversations and read our texts to each other, you would see a lot of affirmation of one another. She and I are regularly articulating something positive we feel about the other person and that keeps us emotionally filled and satisfied. We both gain energy from physical touch. Holding hands, a soft touch of the other’s back, a quick neck rub and the like are simple ways throughout the day to speak the other’s love language and meet their needs.

Chapman talks about keeping your spouse’s emotional tank full. When we speak our spouse’s love language they feel loved and come to a more fulfilling emotional state about themselves, you, and your marriage.

Let’s take a look at each one and see what they mean.

Gift-Giving. Some people just love to get gifts. When you give a gift to them, they get excited. They love the whole process, the surprise, the unwrapping, everything. These don’t have to be big gifts either. They can be small gifts. Whether it is a small, inexpensive item you know they will love and use or something expensive, a real luxury, it doesn’t matter. A gift says that you were thinking of them, you know what they like and you took the time to go and get it for them and deliver it to them.

Quality Time. There is time and there is quality time. Just because you spent the afternoon alone together in the house doesn’t mean that you had quality time. Quality time is time spent together with your spouse in a way that he or she considers it high value. It means giving your spouse your undivided attention. It means talking, listening and really communicating. It could also mean that if your spouse loves riding bikes that you take a few hours and go riding with them. Whether you talk or not during the trip, your spouse will consider it quality time that you went with them. Now my soapbox: Meals should be quality time! Put down your phone, enjoy your food and the company of your spouse! Unless you are rushing to get to the kids game and your dinner consists of fast food eaten while driving, meals are supposed to be quality time and represent an everyday opportunity to have some.

Words of Affirmation. There is an old proverb that says that the “tongue has the power of life and death.” Our words are powerful. So true, especially for those who have words of affirmation as their love language. These words can be expressed in various ways, but they should be expressed regularly. Denise loves a small post-it note on the mirror that says, “I love you,” or “You are beautiful.” Those are words of affirmation. When Denise and I were living halfway across the country from each other when we first started dating, I would try to text her during the day what I loved about her or admired her for. That is key: Try to think about what you love about your spouse and communicate those to your spouse. Guys, “You are beautiful” is great and no woman will ever turn down hearing it, but we need to work harder and expand our words of praise. Things that cover the gamut like “I really appreciate what a hard worker you are,” “You are such an amazing and patient mother,” and “You did such an incredible job organizing that school fundraiser. I’m so proud of you,” will go a long way. Ladies, telling your man “I appreciate how you provide for our family,” “I think you are so funny (or intelligent or whatever),” and “I love how you make me feel when you are making love to me. You’re an incredible lover,” will make your husband feel like he can take on the world!

Acts of Service. Serving others means that you are thinking of ways to help them. How can you serve and help your spouse? Obviously doing chores is an easy answer. Unload the dishwasher, take out the garbage, clean the barbecue or shovel the driveway. But what else? Maybe get up early and make your spouse’s lunch and pack it for him or her. If your spouse normally pays the bills at the end of the month but dreads it, grab them a couple of days early and do your thing with the checkbook. Tell your spouse to sleep in and you will take the kids to school today. Guys, cook your wife a meal. And I don’t mean a romantic meal which will send the message that you are looking for a little action later on. Just get home early and cook a meal so that when she and the kids get home, she doesn’t have that burden on her. When she walks in, hand her a glass of wine, have the TV turned on to HGTV and tell her dinner will be ready in 20 minutes.

Physical Touch. It probably doesn’t need to be said since we’re all adults here, but physical touch is not exclusively sexual touch. In fact, non sexual touch will go a long way toward making sure that when you are engaged in sexual touch, the fires are burning bright. When you wake up in the morning, reach over and rub your spouse’s back before getting out of bed to jump in the shower. Sneak up behind your wife in the kitchen and give her a hug from behind. Give your wife a foot rub while you are watching TV. Run your hands through your husband’s hair while he’s on a phone call. Hold hands while you are walking through the mall. Put your arm around your spouse at the football game. Any time you can share a short, meaning moment of physical touch, it will make your spouse feel loved.

The keys here are:

Know your spouse’s love language
Make the effort to speak your spouse’s love language on a daily basis.

His Needs, Her Needs

His Needs, Her Needs is one of the first marriage/relationship books I ever read and it is a good one. It was published quite some time ago and it can feel a little dated but the principle lessons are very good. First, you have to start with the premise that men and women are different, so if you don’t believe that, you may have a problem with it, but I’ll guess that most of us are on the same page with that concept.

Harley describes the five general and basic needs of each of the sexes as this:

Her Needs:

Affection
Intimate Conversation
Honesty and Openness
Financial Support
Family Commitment

His Needs:

Sexual fulfillment
Recreational Companionship
Physical Attractiveness
Domestic Support
Admiration

Let’s take a deeper look at each.

Hers:

Affection. Men, your wife needs affection. Affection doesn’t mean sex, although that is part of it. She needs your soft touch. She needs you to hug her and hold her. Reach out and hold her hand while you’re driving. Touch her softly. Tickle her a little bit (if she doesn’t mind being tickled). Run your fingers through her hair while you’re watching TV together. Speak lovingly. Listen intently. Tell her you love her.

Intimate Conversation. “How was your day?” isn’t intimate conversation. You have small talk and chit chat and then you have deep, meaningful conversation that connects a husband and wife at a deeper level. Women love to talk about how they feel and what they think. They love to talk about your relationship. Engage her in this and make that deep connection, meeting her need. Men tend to like to keep conversations short and at a 30,000 foot level. Your wife will love it if you will set aside some time to have deeper, more meaningful conversation where your attention is focused on her.

Honesty and Openness. We men, as a general stereotype, are not big talkers. We aren’t very open. We don’t like transparency because it makes us feel vulnerable. But our wives value those things. And frankly, we men need to learn to become more open and honest. One note about honesty. It doesn’t mean that we aren’t honest, but more that we aren’t candidly honest. Not that we lie to our wives but that we omit information and just don’t like to talk about it. Your wife is wired differently and by engaging her in these kind of interactions, you will connect with her in a deeper way because you will be meeting her needs.

Financial Support. This is one of those that some may say is culturally irrelevant from when this book was originally written, but it still holds true in the vast majority of homes. Many women today are very self-sufficient and don’t need a man’s money. For example, Denise has a very high paying career and made more than enough money to provide for her home and children before I met her. She was completely self-sufficient. A woman does, however, want a man to be there for the family financially. If the wife stays home with the kids, she feels secure if her husband is providing well for the needs of the family. When he isn’t, she feels a lack of security and feels in need. Unfortunately, there are too many men who don’t work hard, make poor financial decisions and take away that feeling of financial support from their wives.

Family Commitment. Many men view themselves as a provider and that is important, but all too often, when a woman says she doesn’t feel loved, a husband will say, “What do you mean? I go off every day, working sixty hours a week so I can provide this home, take you on vacation and pay for the kids to go to soccer camp.” That’s not what she’s saying. What she is saying is she wants you to be her husband, not just her provider. She wants you to be the children’s dad, not just the one who pays for their school clothes. She wants you to be there and to be present mentally and emotionally when you are there.

His:

Sexual fulfillment. Of course this is a broad, sweeping generality, but statistically it is relevant that men want sex more often than their wives. This isn’t a right or a wrong but simply a fact of biology for most couples. I’ve worked closely with thousands of men over the years and the number one complaint about wives is that they don’t want to have sex as much as the husband. Ladies, I’d like you to think about something. When your husband committed to you he committed to having sex with only you. When you realize that he is off the market it means that this need can only be met by you. One of the top ways you can meet his needs is to make sure that he is fulfilled in this area.

Recreational Companionship. Most men I have worked with would love to have a spouse who enjoyed doing things together with them. Common interests are powerful in a relationship. Yes, men want alone time with their male friends but they also have a strong desire to have time just “kicking around” or doing an activity together. Working to find some activity that you both enjoy so you can be his recreational companion will be much appreciated by your husband.

Physical Attractiveness. Let’s start with a given that your husband already thinks you are attractive or he most likely wouldn’t have pursued you in the first place. This isn’t about being a bombshell. It is about doing the most with what you have. It means keeping yourself up. It means being fit and living a healthy lifestyle. It means that you don’t spend all day, every day in sweatpants and a t-shirt. Men love pretty things, so make yourself pretty. Do your nails and hair. Smell good. Again, this doesn’t have to be a huge production. Taking a little time each day to put some finishing touches on will be very attractive to your husband.

Domestic Support. This may be the one that causes the most controversy or feels the most out of date in a day and age where many homes are dual income homes. The man and woman both go off to work and it isn’t like the wife is staying at home all day and has the time and responsibility to do all the domestic chores. That being said, it is important to have discussions and come to agreements on responsibilities. One thing to note on this ladies, is that your husband probably wasn’t taught all of the skill sets needed to do some of the things needed around the house. Traditionally, these things were passed on from mother to daughter and many sons weren’t even taught how to do them. Ironing shirts comes to mind. So one thing you can do if splitting chores, is to show him how to do it and encourage him when he does it right.

Admiration. Women, if you only knew how much your husband thrives on your admiration! Actually, he lives for it. Your husband, even if he would never articulate it this way, wants to be that knight in shining armor for you. He wants to be a man who you look at and are impressed by. One of the most powerful things you can do for your husband is to express your admiration for him. Take him in your arms, look him right in the eye and tell him what you admire about him. And if you want to put the admiration factor on steroids, tell other people what you admire about him! When the two of you are out with a group of people, sing his praises to the group. His spirit will soar, I promise you!

Love and Respect

Love and Respect is a very simple concept and it is perhaps the best marriage book, or book on male-female relationships I’ve read in a very long time specifically because it nails the two primary needs a man and a woman in relationships have. The author is a Christian counselor and one day passed over a bible verse that he had read many times over. This time something jumped out to him. The passage said that husbands should love their wives and wives should respect their husbands. The author wondered for the first time why it didn’t just say that husbands and wives should love each other. Why the different instruction for each spouse.

After doing extensive research, he found out that women value being and feeling loved the most while men value being respected the most. What he found out was that men need to love their wives – and show it – and women need to respect their husbands – and show it!

He describes a cycle. The cycle can either be good, or it can be “energizing.” A good cycle has the husband loving his wife. In return, she feels loved and shows her husband the respect he desires. Feeling respected, he shows her his love even more… and the cycle continues.

Then there is the crazy cycle. The husband doesn’t feel respected so he withdraws and doesn’t demonstrate his love for his wife. Feeling unloved, she shows him disrespect…. And the cycle continues.

The author says the key is to recognize when you are on the crazy cycle and to get off that cycle and onto the energizing cycle by making purposeful and unconditional demonstrations of love and respect. Someone has to break the cycle.

So, if a wife treats her husband with disrespect, he is going to feel hurt and will be tempted to withdraw. That will only perpetuate the crazy cycle so he must instead show her unconditional love and love her in spite of how he feels. That will fill her need for love and will move her toward showing him respect, putting them on the good cycle instead of the crazy cycle. And of course the reverse could be demonstrated with the roles reversed. When feeling unloved, the wife would seek to show unconditional respect and bring her husband to the place of showing love again and getting them on the energizing cycle.

You can see from the overview of these three books that the key element is to look at your spouse and see what really makes him or her tick. Whether it is one of his or her love languages, or his or her needs, or simply the love or respect that he or she desires, we as their spouse can meet those needs purposefully, helping our spouse to be fulfilled and giving us the enjoyment of being in a more loving and happy marriage.

I would encourage you to buy these three books and go through them with your spouse. At the very least, buy one of them that seems most interesting and dig through it and then focus on your part of the equation. And if you are on your second marriage, be sure to get Better the Second Time! Click HERE.

We'd love to hear your thoughts about this article. Please take a minute to share them in the comment section by clicking here. Or carry the conversation over on your favorite social network by clicking one of the share buttons below.


Chris is one of the World's Top 50 Speakers, member of the Motivational Speakers Hall of Fame, and one of Inc. Magazine's Top 100 Leadership Speakers. He considers it a privilege to be able to speak to people, help them lead successful lives, become extraordinary leaders and, masterful salespeople. Chris has authored twenty books with three million copies in print in 13 languages and over 450 articles on success, leadership, sales and motivation.



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Faith

Seek Out the Good in Others

If you try, you can find at least one thing admirable in everyone you meet.

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Will Rogers, a political satirist, entertainer, and beloved figure in the first half of the twentieth century allegedly said, “I never met a man I didn’t like.” Many people have interpreted Will Rogers to have meant that he could find something admirable in everyone he met. So, too, can we all.

Something Admirable

Is there a co-worker with whom you have had a nasty relationship? Is there something good about this co-worker that you can draw upon, so that you can actually say something nice to him/her at your next encounter?

Is there a neighbor with whom you have had a continuing squabble? What would it do to your relationship if you sent your neighbor a card or a brief note that said something along the lines of, “I noticed how lovely your garden was the other day and wanted to let you know that I appreciate the work you’ve done in maintaining it.” Too syrupy, or, pardon the expression, too flowery?  Guess again.

Trending on PolitiCrossing.com: Tucker: Because of Joe Biden, it’s that simple

You’re on this planet for finite amount of time. Do you want to go through your life trading hostilities with people, never having the where-with-all to restore some semblance of civility to the relationship?

Finding the Good

Try thinking of and listing five people who you may not have a good relationship with but can acknowledge. Next to each person’s name, write what is good about them. Do they maintain a nice garden? Here are some ideas for you in case you’re drawing a blank. This person…

* Is kind to the receptionist at work.
* Turns assignments in on time, and hence, supports the team.
* Walks softly past your office, so as not to disturb you.
* Greets you in the morning when you arrive.
* Maintains his or her office well.

Away from work, here are some ideas for finding the good in others:
* Keeps the street in front of the yard free of debris.
* Is respectful of others’ needs for quiet.
* Dresses well.
* Has well-behaved children.
* Drives safely in the neighborhood.

If you try, you’ll find something good!

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Faith

Reducing Stress Through Prayer, and More

Taking a few minutes out of a hectic day can spell the difference between frenzy and tranquility

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Prayer has been an effective method for soothing the soul since people first believed in God. For some people, the payoff comes with sitting still, and being quiet. Many feel a direct connection with God which, in itself, is calming. Those who attend a place of worship every Sunday find that praying with others is comforting. Reverence to God, fellowship, and familiar chants and hymns can all aid in reducing stress and bringing inner contentment.

If you haven’t prayed in a while, in addition to the religious aspects, the stress reduction can be magnificent. Even if you never attend a formal prayer service, informal prayer, by your bedside, in a comfortable chair, or somewhere in nature can work as well. Some of the most accomplished and admirable people who have ever walked this earth have been deeply religious and have found great comfort in prayer.

Other Options

In our rush-rush society, your ability to take a few minutes out of a hectic day can spell the difference between frenzy and tranquility. The majority of stress we experience is a result of the daily deluge of information and communication we come in contact with on top of the amount of tasks we need to accomplish. If you have been experiencing severe stress, it might mean the difference between a long life and a shortened one.

Trending on PolitiCrossing.com: Tucker: Because of Joe Biden, it’s that simple

People have long used drugs (prescribed and otherwise!) and medications to achieve certain effects. I’m not knocking all of these substances – some of them probably live up to their mystique; however, there is no need to engage in drugs, considering there are so many other ways to effectively reduce stress.

Amidst the flurry of reports from medical researchers, many people also rely on a glass or two of wine each day to relax. If this is your habit, and it works for you, you’re probably on reasonably safe ground. The latest research, however, paints a less rosy picture about wine’s beneficial effects. I’m concerned, as well, about the long-term effects of having two glasses of wine, 365 days a year, for 10 or 20 years.

Change for Real

It often seems like people around you are enamored by some techniques such as meditation or yoga, but in reality, most people who practice these or other techniques do so only a handful of times. Then, they revert back to what they did previously.

The changes that you implement need to come without too much pain, to be subtle, even natural and easy. Otherwise, you probably won’t stick with them. Lasting and effective change can come from small incremental change. So, keep in mind that not every technique will strike your fancy. Enough of them will fit your lifestyle, and will work for you enough of the time for you to stay with them and to ultimately exercise control in ways that you have always wanted.

Talking to Someone

The mere act of talking to someone about issues confronting you can be stress reducing, and certainly more effective than mentally stewing over things alone. In The Psychological Society, author Martin L. Gross concluded that “the modern industry of psychology in America was no more effective in treating patients than witch doctors in Africa were in treating people who came to them.”

The key was whether or not the patient believed that the doctor had healing powers. Hence, if you believe that a witch doctor can help you, then a witch doctor can be as effective as a psychiatrist. A trusted friend or relative, with whom you can discuss your problems, can be equally effective.

The idea of talking to someone about what is stressing you is not so much that you will find a solution then and there, but that the mere physical act of discussing the stressor moves you closer to resolution, perhaps using one of the techniques discussed in this article.

Using Humor

Throughout the ages, humor has also been a primary tool in helping to reduce stress. Don’t discount the power of humor before trying it. If it’s been a while, or forever, since you’ve engaged in humor to reduce stress, you’re in for a treat. I’m not talking about jokes or side-splitting belly laughs, but rather a gleeful, playful acceptance of the inane and absurd situations that you encounter, and as a business owner you have your share of them.

The ability to laugh at yourself or to laugh at your situation might spell the fundamental difference between those who show resilience in the face of hard times, and those who face nervous breakdowns.

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