There are two essential feelings necessary for a marriage to thrive or even survive. Notice that I said "feelings," not emotions. I think that word better describes what I am trying to communicate: someone can feel a certain way. While it ties into an emotional response, it is still different.
I note these feelings for you as a way of considering how you are feeling, and to consider how your spouse may be feeling. At this point, I am suggesting these feelings, but am not going to be giving a great deal of answers. You can find more about restoring these feelings in your marriage by looking at my material on how to save your marriage.
So the two feelings are
- Feeling wanted.
- Feeling accepted.
"Feeling wanted" would be in opposition to feeling either a) needed or b) unwanted. And "feeling accepted" is in opposition to feeling rejected or unaccepted.
Let's take these in order. First is the feeling of being wanted. With this idea, I am referring to feeling wanted on a number of levels: "Am I wanted sexually?" "Does the person want to be with me?" "Does the person want to know me?" "Does the person want me to do better?" These are just a few of the “wants.” You can add your own.
The opposite of feeling wanted is feeling unwanted or feeling needed. Both of these feelings can destroy a relationship. If a person feels unwanted, then that person begins to feel undesirable, unlovable, even unworthy. This is especially true if it comes from someone loved. Feeling unwanted causes one to question physical attractiveness, or mental capacity, or even one's spiritual basis -- all from a single feeling.
But just as destructive is the feeling of being needed. You see, someone can need me without wanting me. Or the feeling of being needed can lead to fears of losing one’s self to the other person. When someone needs another person, it pulls that person toward meeting that person’s needs, regardless of what the needed person might want.
Let me clarify what I am not saying: couples do depend upon each other. That is the nature of marriage. The more you weave your life together, the more you functionally rely on each other, and really need each other. But that is different than the feeling of being needed, which is really about the neediness of a spouse.
So, I have two questions on this one:
- Do you feel wanted by your spouse?
- Does your spouse feel wanted by you?
The next feeling is the feeling of being accepted. This is one of the most basic emotional needs that we all have: to be accepted and loved. While I believe that unconditional love is a goal, not a reality, this is sort of what I am referring to: "Does my spouse accept me for who I am?"