Meeting Emotional Needs Outside of Marriage

Question: Should women seek to meet some of their emotional needs outside of marriage?

Answer: That is precisely what I'm saying, particularly with regard to an emotionally vulnerable woman who is married to a stoic, unromantic man. If she looks to him as the provider of all adult conversation and the satisfier of every emotional need, their marriage can quickly run aground. He has no clue about how to deal with her "soul hunger" or how to make her happy. When she begins to realize that he will never be what she wants of him, discontent begins to brew in the relationship. I have seen thousands of marriages flounder right at that point.

What can be done, then? A woman with a normal range of emotional needs cannot simply ignore them. Something deep within her screams for fulfillment. One answer is for women in this situation to supplement what their husbands can give by cultivating meaningful female relationships. Having lady friends with whom they can talk heart-to-heart, study the Scriptures, laugh and cry, and raise their children can be vital to mental health.

That is precisely how women dealt with social needs in centuries past. Many men worked sixty or seventy hours per week and had little time or energy for what might be called romantic activities. But a well-integrated society of women filled the void. They worked together, had babies together, cooked and canned together, and went to church together. And somehow, it was enough.

Why does feminine society not exist in the same way today? Because many women are employed (the neighborhoods are empty) and because the world has become so mobile. The extended family has disintegrated, and the culture has moved on. Thus, female companionship is often difficult to find, and many younger women, especially those with two or more preschoolers, abandon the search for friendship. It is simply too much trouble.

To the young wives who are reading these words, I urge you not to fall into this pattern. Invest some time in your female friends--even though you are all busy. Resist the temptation to pull into the walls of your home and wish for someone to talk to. Stay involved as a family in a church that meets your needs and preaches the Word. Remember that you are surrounded by many other women with similar feelings. Find them. Care for them. Give to them. And in the process, your own self-esteem will rise. Then when you are content, your marriage will also flourish. It sounds simplistic, but that's the way we are made. We are designed to love God as social creatures who don't do well in isolation. Don't let that isolation happen to you.

The The Complete Marriage and Family Home Reference Guide

By Dr. James Dobson

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