In doing research for my sermon this week I came across this really good article from Psychology Today. It has a lot of great stuff in it about marriage and divorce. One concept that was totally new to me was the Pyramid of Marital Needs. I have never heard of this and it was one of those "why didn't I think of this?" moments that I thought I would share.
Kindness, providing for each others basic needs (shelter, food, etc)
freedom from fear of abuse
Love = Mutual affection, connection wanting the best for the other,
common interests, fun together
Esteem = personal self esteem in yourself and esteem from & for the spouse, mutual respect, common goals in life, working together
Actualization = supporting each other in reaching one's full potential, creativity, spirituality, discovery.
Unfortunately, there are way to many couples who don't even share the two foundational pieces of the pyramid - Safety and Love. Safety, particularly freedom from abuse, is critical to moving up the pyramid. You can't work on any other problem in marriage unless you have safety including mutual trust and honesty. Love is also foundational, it is that feeling inside but also just sharing common interests and wanting the best for the other person. When you honestly don't care what happens to the person then you should not be married to them.
Esteem and Actualization are growth areas that first require you to work on yourself before you can work on them as a couple. You have to have self esteem before you can have esteem for your partner or for a co-worker. I have seen many people ruin a relationship because they didn't have the self-esteem to stand side-by-side with their partner. They wanted to be on top, or better than their partner and so when their partner got accolades then they were jealous, defensive and often brought their partner down. You have to love yourself before you can love anyone else!
Actualization is one of the hardest areas and I think that it is the place where you see a couple go from and "ok" marriage to a truly "happy" marriage. Actualization is reaching forward in life, trying new things, exploring new places, and having the freedom to make mistakes without fear of being ridiculed. When a husband supports his wife in taking a new class, trying a new activity or going to a new place on her own without being insecure, then she can become the best "her" God made her to be. And likewise with husbands. Everyone needs to be able to pursue new things, and couples need to try new things together. When we don't do this, the marriage may be ok but boring and not as fun. Its critical to be able to fail and know your spouse is there for you, and to give each other the freedom to grow without growing apart.
What area of the pyramid is solid in your marriage?
Which area needs work?