I had a conversation today. Actually, I listened while a friend vented about his ex-wife. I had heard what he had to say many times so while listening all I could think was, “some men just don’t get it and never will.”
Brandon was angry; he had “given her everything, a great home, new car, financial security.” Seems she couldn’t be satisfied, according to him she was too “needy.” I asked him to define “needy” for me. She was “always wanting to talk, insisted on a date night, came to me with every problem, she needed attention, attention, attention.”
“I felt like I was drowning,” Brandon said. When she finally realized she was not going to get the emotional connection with him that she needed she left and filed for divorce. He was devastated and angry.
She pushed and he pulled away and his pulling away finally cost him what was most precious to him…his wife.
So, what doesn’t Brandon get?
He has failed to understand that the more he deprived his wife of what she so badly wanted, an emotional connection with him the needier she became. Her neediness was a response to his fear of her sucking him dry emotionally. He viewed her as a bottomless pit of need, not realizing that if he had given her what she wanted, her tank would have been full. Instead of a needy wife, he would have had a happy wife.
In their marriage, Brandon was the distancer, she was the pursuer. The distancer/pursuer is the most negative pattern seen in unsatisfying relationships. A relationship pattern Brandon could have avoided by sharing his feelings with his wife and listening to hers. Giving his wife more time and attention would have dispelled her fears and built trust in him.
Brandon loved his wife and showed love to his wife the way HE thought his wife needed to be loved. He failed to express his love to her the way she needed and as a result, there was no marital harmony. The sad thing, they both had the same fear, he feared he would never be able to satisfy her needs, she feared that also.
In his book, The 5 Languages of Love, Gary Chapman says, “Your emotional love language and the language of your wife may be as different as Chinese from English. No matter how hard you try to express your love in English, if your wife only understands Chinese, you will never understand how to love each other.”
We normally love others in the way we want to be loved. According to Brandon, his wife was very affectionate, always asking if he needed anything, how his day went and showed an interest in how life was treating him. She was giving Brandon what she wanted in return.
For a marriage to work, we have to learn to speak each other’s love language — to step outside our comfort zone and see a spouse’s needs from their perspective. Doing that ends deprivation, neediness, and the fear Brandon had of being “sucked dry” emotionally.