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His Needs, Her Needs

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Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary

Book Critique: His Needs, Her Needs: Building An Affair-Proof Marriage by Willard F. Harley, Jr.

A Paper
Submitted to Dr. Brown
In Partial Fulfillment
Of the Requirements for the Course
Preventing Ministry Failure
LEAD 625

Adrian Mack
27 January 2014



EVALUATION 4 Summary In His Needs, Her Needs, Willard F. Harley, Jr. is not solely talking about affairs, but is elaborating on the underlying themes of communication and selflessness. In the first chapter, Harley explains that when a person explains their relationship problems to someone external to the relationship, it can easily lead to an affair because a bond forms with this new person and he or she understands the needs that one yearns for in their life, time and again able to meet the needs if an affair begins (Harley 20). During his tenure counseling couples, Dr. Harley has recognized that men and women each have unique preferences in regards to their needs, and often differing perspectives on how the relationship would be “perfect.” Harley conceptualizes this with his analogy of a bank. Hence, communication, both talking and listening about problems and needs, is not the only necessary means to improve a relationship, but one must be willing to make the relationship work by considering not only themselves, but their significant other. For Harley, it is not about whether or not one is “skilled” at fulfilling their significant other’s needs or solving problems that arise, it is simply about attempting and learning to think and act differently as much as possible (Harley 23). Likewise, one should not become so selfless that he or she entirely neglects his or her own needs and problems. The next several chapters highlight the most common preferences, such as affection or sexual fulfillment, which men and women on average choose in therapy sessions with Dr. Harley. Because there is frequently a communication barrier and because different people have different preferences on what they like or dislike, a disconnect can occur in a relationship because people usually do not know how to communicate their feelings for reasons such as hurting their spouses feelings, or because one only considers their own needs; and to take it further, some know their significant other’s preference and try to fulfill it, but have a misconception of what is really preferred (Harley 39). Harley professes in the last few chapters that conflict is inevitable in a relationship and that conflict per se is not a negative thing, like criticism can be in a relationship (Harley 174). But communication and a selfless nature ensure that couples can work through their problems, including affairs, if this does happen.
Harley prefaces the reader by explaining that his observations during marriage therapy sessions are not averages for all couples, since each couple (and individual) is unique. Yet, Harley still based his chapters on the “important needs” for women and the “important needs” for men, which appeared to be generalizations. While his research may yield that these are in fact typical preferences for each gender group, it would have been informative and unique to have included a preference for each gender group that was not stereotypical. For example, Harley’s male preferences included: sexual fulfillment, recreational companionship, and physical attractiveness, among other stereotypical preferences for male participants. Non-stereotypical inclusions would mean that the book would reach all types of individuals and couples who are looking to literature, such as Harley’s, for help with improving one’s marriage. Since these stereotypes are addressed, it could cause one to attempt to improve in those areas, without realizing that these specific areas may not be the ones that one’s significant other sees are top priority. I realize that there is only so much that one can address in a book, but by at least showing different perspectives and not just stereotypes, would be more objective and educational for the reader. Within each chapter, the universal themes stand true, aside from the respective preference. This is beneficial because it teaches that one must be honest about their feelings and needs, but also must be willing to work to satisfy their other’s needs, without neglecting oneself. The questions at the end of each chapter are nice because the reader is able to think more deeply about the content in regards to their own relationship. It can help unveil any issues that one has not thought about in their own marriage, and from there a breakthrough can hopefully emerge if one acts on these insights by conversing with one’s significant other. The only other reservation that I had stems from the books title. While the title does catch the reader’s eye and can be a marketing ploy, it comes with the inquiry whether Willard F. Harley, Jr. honestly thinks that one can affair-proof their marriage? Harley argues that the longevity of his marriage is proof that one is able to have a long and loving marriage. But even if one spouse is attempting to do everything right, it does not mean that an affair still cannot happen for various reasons. This also is the fact in one of the last chapters on how to rebuild a marriage after an affair. Harley mentions how one of the steps is for the spouse to make sure they are meeting needs that were not initially met before the affair. But again, this does not account for the fact that a spouse could have selflessly and with a communicative spirit tried to be the best spouse he or she could be to their significant other. Overall, the book is worth reading because it definitely causes the reader to consider the topics discussed in regards to his or her own life. This book will cause a great conversation to occur between a husband and wife and could assist in sustaining the dialogue that is often necessary to make sure that a couple is on the same page in their marriage.
This work contributes to the course topic for several reasons, first because pastors are invested in the care of those they serve and an emotional connection can start that can lead to affairs, or an emotional connection with another could start and can drain the pastor because others expect so much from the pastor and hence, the negative outcome of emotional connections is not solely an affair. This work also shows how when a pastor is not conscious of their marriage and significant other, then affairs can begin when the significant other reaches out to someone else to meet needs. This holds true for the pastor who never makes time for personal matters, such as personal health, family, or vacation. A greater implication for the Christian faith is that relationships in general are important and that God wanted creation to be relational, as is mirrored with the giving-receiving essence of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Relationships, of all types, have to be maintained to be healthy. This is how Christians evangelize to those who have not yet found Christ, as well as with other Christians. Similar to the nature of this book, each relationship we have with friends, family, and spouses is one in which we have to communicate, be selfless, and willing to work together in order for the relationship to develop.

Works Cited
Harley, Willard F. Jr. His Needs, Her Needs: Building An Affair-Proof Marriage. Grand Rapids: Revell, 2011.…...

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