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Episode 1: How Meeting Emotional Needs Creates Love

Announcer: [00:00:00] Today on Hopeful Tomorrows.

Derek Irvin: [00:00:05] Often times our needs come from a place of a wound from our childhood.

Missy Irvin: [00:00:11] Yeah, that’s true when you’re being raised if your parents never listen to you then you’re gonna have a need to feel important to your spouse because you didn’t get that as a kid.

Announcer: [00:00:23] The Hopeful Tomorrows podcast is hosted by Derrick and Missy Irvin. Each episode they share key insights for marital success and how to have thoughtful, beneficial communication in your relationship. On this episode of the Hopeful Tomorrows podcast we explore the connection between meeting each others needs and the feelings of love we experience in marriage.

Missy Irvin: [00:00:42] Today we’re gonna talk about love and how to keep love alive. It’s easy to fall in love. Like if you watch The Bachelor, they’re falling in love by episode two, so that’s not the issue. Falling in love is easy. It’s being able to cultivate that love and make it last for a lifetime.

Derek Irvin: [00:01:00] Yeah, that is so true. And the big idea that we’re grabbing ahold of is the idea of emotional needs and the connection between when we understand what these emotional needs are and we do things to meet those needs that it creates feelings of love in our spouse. And so, in the show notes you’ll find a link for a self assessment where you can go through and figure out what your top emotional needs are and also what your spouse’s top emotional needs are. And that can be really helpful and practical in facilitate just a great conversation.

But what we’re talking about with things like emotional needs is we’re talking about things like financial security, domestic support, sexual fulfillment, quality time, physical touch, things like that.

Missy Irvin: [00:01:48] Yeah, and we have a need for all of these to be met. I mean we all want those, but some of those needs are gonna rise to the top. So you’re gonna have like a top three. That’s what we say. Get three because it makes it easier for your spouse to remember and find out what those are and find out what your spouse’s needs are. And after you find out what they are, figure out how to meet those needs because it’s not just enough to know what they are, we need to know how to specifically meet those needs.

Derek Irvin: [00:02:17] Yeah, no, that’s a great point. You know, it’s kinda like let’s say that I just learned what my wife’s most important emotional need was and it’s physical touch. So I’m like, okay, I’m gonna get this right, physical touch, physical touch. I need to give her physical touch. So we go to the grocery store and as we’re walking down the aisle I’m trying to put my arm around her and give her hugs. I’m giving her her physical touch. And she’s like, “Will you get off of me.” Well, oh, my goodness. I am completely confused because you just told me you had this need for physical touch and here I am trying to meet it and now you don’t want it.


I mean what do I do with that?

Missy Irvin: [00:02:56] Yeah, so the me- mean might be that I want that physical touch, but I want it at home, not in public. So that’s why it’s so important to know how to meet those needs.

Derek Irvin: [00:03:06] Yeah, no. That’s such a, I think, an important point to make and it can really trip couples up quite often.

You know the other thing that comes to mind with our needs is that there’s no guilt or shame in having those needs.

Missy Irvin: [00:03:22] Right. Yeah. I hear that. Like especially mom’s say that- that if they have a need for freedom and autonomy and they need some alone time they feel guilty for that, like they should be with their kids 24/7. And that’s a real legitimate need. They do need that time away. So God made us with those needs and there’s nothing to feel guilty about.

Derek Irvin: [00:03:44] Yeah, if you think about just within our culture and the way that we think about this, I mean one of the things you’ll hear people say is, “Oh, she’s so needy.” And it’s very negative kind of phrase. And then certainly guys, for example, are socialized in such a way that we’re supposed to be independent, we’re supposed to be this stoic guy who doesn’t need anything or anybody. And so really just getting comfortable with the very idea that I have these needs, that these needs are real, these needs are legitimate, it can take a little bit of getting used to.

Missy Irvin: [00:04:20] Yeah, so for example I’ll just talk about our needs. So one of my needs is freedom and autonomy and I’m an introvert, so I need that alone time. And I am such a better mom and a better wife, better at everything when I can get that alone time. And also domestic support. Like I need his help doing chores. That- that speaks a lot of love to me.

Derek Irvin: [00:04:44] Yeah. And, again, God created us to have these needs and I think that’s so important. Sometimes people will get in this mindset, uh, it’s just me and God. You know, me and Jesus, we got it covered. But they forget that really that’s not Biblical. You see God created Adam and before sin entered the world, well, he said it’s not good for man to be alone and he created Eve. And part of that relationship, that marriage relationship was all about learning to meet each other’s needs. And when we do that and really become students of our spouse, we’re gonna have a happy and healthy marriage.

So we been talking about emotional needs and how when we meet those emotional needs, it creates feelings of love in our relationship. And when we wanna stay in love and build a lifelong marriage it’s crucial that we know how to do this. But where do those needs come from in the first place?

Missy Irvin: [00:05:43] Yeah, well, they can come from a lot of different places like our personality. If you’re an introvert, you probably need more alone time. Or our past hurts or our life experiences and our gender.

Derek Irvin: [00:05:56] Yeah. That’s another good one. You know, we tend to think of the gender stereotypes where, let’s be honest, it’s men want sex and women wanna talk about everything, right.


You know, but the reality is- is we all have all of these needs and they really aren’t gender specific. In our relationship I’m the one who wants to talk about everything. You know, but you have a job where you talk all day.

Missy Irvin: [00:06:22] Yes, and at the end of the day I’m all out of words and so that’s not really a need of mine, but it is a need of his. And so it’s important for me to know that about him.

And the other thing that’s tricky is our needs will change over time.


So when our kids are young we might have a need for more, uh, time together, more quality time and more conversation together. And when we’re retired we might spend so much time together that we might need time away from each other-


… or recreational companionship. So they do change over time and that’s normal.

Derek Irvin: [00:06:59] Yeah, it is. About the time that you think you got it figured out-


… the target moves.

And the other thing that I think is so tricky is just the simple fact that typically our needs are different from each other.

Missy Irvin: [00:07:12] Yes. Wouldn’t it be so nice if our needs were the same. And i- Life would just be so much easier-

Derek Irvin: [00:07:18] Yeah.

Missy Irvin: [00:07:18] … if we had the same needs.

Derek Irvin: [00:07:19] Yeah, we may not get a lot done, but-

Missy Irvin: [00:07:22] Well, why? ‘Cause we would be in bed all day or because we’d being in chores all day?

Derek Irvin: [00:07:26] Well, I’ll give you three guesses of where my mind went with that one.

Missy Irvin: [00:07:28] Well, I guess I know that answer.

Derek Irvin: [00:07:30] Yeah.

Missy Irvin: [00:07:30] [laughs] Yeah, so they are different. And knowing the difference an- is important because if I’m trying to meet his need, but I do something that is nice, but it’s meeting my need, then it’s not gonna hit the mark.

Derek Irvin: [00:07:45] Yeah, that is so true. You know, if you were to clean out my car, I would notice it, but it wouldn’t hit the mark.

Missy Irvin: [00:07:52] Mm-hmm [affirmative].

Derek Irvin: [00:07:52] You know, if I have a need for recreational companionship and I plan a date and for that date I take you out and, to a pro football game and we tailgate before. I mean I’ve done a tremendous job of meeting my most important emotional needs, but it is not even touched your most important emotional needs.

Missy Irvin: [00:08:12] That’s right. Yeah, I would like for you to clean out my car if that’s an option. [laughs]

Derek Irvin: [00:08:16] I believe it. I believe it.

Missy Irvin: [00:08:17] And that’s the other thing is we don’t have to understand each other’s needs. Like you, for the life of you, will never understand why you doing the dishes is sexy. And-

Derek Irvin: [00:08:29] Yeah, I won’t. I-


… don’t understand it. I won’t understand it. I’ve come to accept it because it’s true. But, if I can be honest, it’s not fair.


It’s not fair at all because if you wanna show love to me all you gotta do is sit on the couch with me with your arm around me.

Missy Irvin: [00:08:49] Just have to cuddle up with you.

Derek Irvin: [00:08:50] Exactly. If I wanna show love to you, I’ve gotta be on my hands and knees scrubbing something or cleaning something.

Missy Irvin: [00:08:58] That’s true. And I tell him, “You don’t have to understand it, you just have to do it.”

Derek Irvin: [00:09:02] Yeah, it’s very true.

But, you know, I’ll tell you, when we learn to meet each other’s needs, things really start to change in the dynamic of the relationship and… So irregardless of the fact that they’re different or we don’t understand then, when we meet them, it communicates love to our spouse in a really profound way.

As we’ve been exploring our emotional needs and the reality that when we meet those needs it creates feelings of love, you know, the reverse is also true. When we fail to meet those needs, it can really be hurtful. And, especially when we are in open conflict in our relationship, the reality is often times we don’t want to meet each other’s needs.

Missy Irvin: [00:09:47] Yeah, it’s really hard to meet each other’s needs when you’re mad at each other. Like when I’m mad at you, I don’t wanna meet your needs.

Derek Irvin: [00:09:53] Mm-hmm [affirmative].

Missy Irvin: [00:09:54] But then you get in this cycle where nobody is meeting each other’s needs and you’re both unhappy and dissatisfied in the relationship. And I’ll have couples in my office ask me, “Well, who should start?” And I say, “Well, whoever wants the relationship to get better.”

Derek Irvin: [00:10:09] Hm. That’s a good answer because you can get kind of in a score keeping mentality.

Missy Irvin: [00:10:14] Yeah. Like I’ll meet your needs when you meet my needs.

Derek Irvin: [00:10:17] Yeah, and I did all this, but you’ve not done anything for me. And so that becomes really problematic.

And so we have this situation where we don’t meet needs and we intentionally withhold them, but there’s another thing that can happen sometimes and that is when we fail to meet needs even though we’ve been told, even though our spouse has shared with us in a really good way that this is important to me and this is my need. And when we fail to meet the needs in that scenario, man, that also is really tough.

Missy Irvin: [00:10:48] Oh, man, it’s so hurtful when you’ve said, “I’ve told you my needs over and over and over again and they’re still not meeting those.” And the only conclusion you can come to is, well, they just must not care.

Derek Irvin: [00:11:02] Hm.

Missy Irvin: [00:11:02] They know what they are. They’re not meeting them. They just must not care.

Derek Irvin: [00:11:06] Yeah, it’s almost like it would be better if I hadn’t told ’em. You know, at least before I told them, I could tell myself, well, they just don’t know. But once I put it out there that this is what it is and this is what it would mean to me if you were to meet those, and they aren’t met, well, that- that just is really hurtful. And we personalize it. You know, we take… It’s not just that the needs not being met, it’s that you don’t care about me.

Missy Irvin: [00:11:31] Mm-hmm [affirmative], yeah. And these needs also apply to our kids. Our kids have needs. We should know what they are and be meeting those needs. Like our daughter has a need for, um, co- just being with us. She likes the quality time. So, when we’re running errands she wants to go. Especially when she was younger she always wanted to go with us and always wanted to play games with us. Well, if we always told her no… And you’re gonna tell ’em no sometimes, that’s not what I’m talking about. I’m talking about consistently turning them down, saying, no, I don’t have time, then they are gonna feel like they’re not loved-

Derek Irvin: [00:12:07] Hm.

Missy Irvin: [00:12:07] … like they’re not worth your time.

Derek Irvin: [00:12:10] Yeah. Yeah. They aren’t gonna tell themselves, wow, Mom and Dad’s priorities are outta whack.

Missy Irvin: [00:12:16] Mm-hmm [affirmative], they’re-

Derek Irvin: [00:12:16] We p- we personalize it. We do that exact same thing in our relationship.

You know, and that reminds me of another thing that frequently happens in this whole arena is that often times our needs come from a place of a wound often times from our childhood.

Missy Irvin: [00:12:33] Yeah, that’s true, from past hurts or… And when you’re being raised if your parents never listened to you, they didn’t hear your opinion, they always told you to be quiet, then you’re gonna have need to feel important to your spouse because you didn’t get that as a kid and so you really need that from your spouse.

Derek Irvin: [00:12:53] Yeah. Another example that comes to mind is you have a situation where let’s say that a child was abandoned, either physically or emotionally, well, they’re gonna grow up and enter into relationships more than likely with a need for acceptance. And when that need is not met, when they feel rejected, for example, well, that’s gonna touch them at a very deep place inside of them.

Missy Irvin: [00:13:21] Mm-hmm [affirmative].

Derek Irvin: [00:13:21] It’s going to be almost like this emotional bruise that can get hit very easily in the relationship.

Missy Irvin: [00:13:28] Mm-hmm [affirmative]. Absolutely. And we can actually help our spouse heal. God made the marriage relationship to help us to heal each other from those emotional wounds. So when we know they have those and those needs come from those hurt places and we’re meeting those needs, it can be so healing.

Derek Irvin: [00:13:47] Yes, it can.

You know, the big idea here is that our needs are real. God created us with needs and when they’re not being met sometimes we have to make a choice to step outside of ourselves and meet those needs in our spouse and when we do so it can change the whole dynamic of the relationship and get you to the place that you need and want to be in your marriage.

Announcer: [00:14:15] Thank you for listening this episode of the Hopeful Tomorrows podcast hosted by Derrick Irvin, a board certified pastoral counselor, and Missy Irvin, a licensed marriage and family therapist. Derrick and Missy are a married couple committed to providing healing for those struggling in their relationships. For more information on Hopeful Tomorrows and to register for a weekend retreat, please visit our website at

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