Someone in your life probably told you when you were very young that you should always be able to stand on your own two feet. Most likely, more than one person who loved you has reminded you of the importance of emotional independence. It is good advice that should be taken very seriously. However, is it possible that women have taken this advice too far?
Women need to feel needed. They want to believe they fill a special place in their husband’s lives that no one else can. They want to be missed when they are gone and celebrated when they return. But somehow women forget that husbands experience many of the same needs. Although expressed differently and certainly fulfilled differently, these needs do exist in your husbands, as well.
How then, do women accomplish these two seemingly contradictory needs. Is it possible to ensure that your husband knows you need him and knows you rely on him without jeopardizing your need to be prepared for an independent future that you hope will never come? It is possible. Once you define the difference between emotional independence and practical independence, it becomes clear that your needs and your husband’s needs do not contradict at all.
Practical independence is a necessity of life for anyone with a healthy amount of concern for stability and security. It must exist to avoid chaos in the unfortunate event of not only divorce but death as well. Practical independence is the ability to maintain a suitable lifestyle for you and those who depend on you if your spouse is no longer with you. Education, career options, investments and savings all play a role in creating the ability to maintain practical independence. These are important issues that all women should address and utilize to their benefit.
However, emotional independence has nothing to do with the practicalities of life. An emotional need is a willingness and ability to allow yourself to be vulnerable with another person. Both husbands and wives are guilty of confusing vulnerability with weakness. In actuality, only individuals of real courage and strength can allow themselves to be genuinely vulnerable.
An emotional need is a necessity in any long-term relationship. This is especially true of the marital relationship. Marriage, without need, will result in a very superficial relationship at best. Need instills in us the desire to trudge forward in circumstances that desire alone would not. To desire, love, respect and enjoy your husband will not carry you through the tough times. Need will.
Consider this concept of “need” in terms of finances. Your most genuine needs include nothing more than food, clothing, and shelter. Regardless of how scarce money may be, you still need these things. However, the material things we desire and love will be given up if they create too much of a burden in our lives. Regardless of how important it may be for you to shop, eat at your favorite restaurant or relax during your weekly pedicure, you will sacrifice these things if they become too burdensome. As this example illustrates, needs are not negotiable. Our instincts require that we hold on to that which we need regardless of what hardships they create. Need gives us the strength to keep going when we would otherwise give up.
All marriages have difficulties. Whether or not yours survives those difficulties depends significantly on how vulnerable you and your husband are willing to be with one another. Decide to need each other. Invest in one another emotionally. Allow yourselves to be vulnerable. If you do these things, you will likely find that you will work harder than you ever thought possible to ensure your marriage withstands all the challenges life has in store.