What can you do if you are married to a man who does not satisfy your emotional needs?

I am sure when you got married you and your husband were pretty happy about things.

Let’s look back at that time.

That buzz right after the magical wedding ceremony was dancing through you mind.  If you were to try to gauge where you stood with regard to your emotional needs being met, your response would likely be very positive at that time.  That is usually the case with young brides.

wonderful wedding memories when needs were met

Your emotional well-being, immediately following the wedding,  probably seemed like it was floating in a sea of splendor.  Your hopes were high and you could hardly find a lot wrong with the amazing guy you planned to spend your lifetime with.

So now dial the clock forward by a few years.  Where should you be now, emotionally?

Even a well-adjusted and happy couple certainly won’t be floating in the clouds any longer. They would have their share of marital ups and downs.  But if I was to ask them how they are doing, I would expect there would be very little to gripe about in regard to emotional or intimacy needs not being met.

This is the way a relationship or a marriage usually plays out.  Both parties should be devoted to the other, frequently offering gestures of love and kindness.

But this is not always the picture in some marriages.


Too often, wives are spending far too much time worrying and wondering if they have made a terrible mistake marrying a guy who seems incapable of understanding what they need or even trying to learn how to please them.

So what is one to do if your husband is doing a horrible job of meeting your emotional needs in the relationship?

If your man is treating you badly, ignoring the important things that mean a lot to you, consider reading the rest of this post and the one below I just wrote….

What are you do to if your husband ignores your complaints about him falling way short of satisfying?

Where do you turn if your husband just doesn’t seem to get the fact that meeting your emotional intimacy needs is not an optional matter, but critical to making a marriage work?

These are all reasonable questions.

Meeting emotional needs of my lady

Let’s  take a dip into some of my readers questions.  It is valuable to know what others are experiencing and explore what they have to say about their own situation.  Not because misery loves company, but sometimes you can see the way to your own solution.

“What if its your boyfriend who doesn’t meet your needs“, one of my clients asked me?  “We are not engaged or anything like that, but I am tired of him just taking me for granted. He doesn’t even want to talk about it.  He says I am too demanding, but I think I am just asking for what any other girl would want out their man.

Chris, I feel trapped with nowhere to go.  I thought I found somebody I could live with my whole life.  No true.  It’s like my husband went back to being the slob that I was afraid he might become.  Part of me knew he was just putting on his best face to get regular sex.  Looking back now, I realize we really just back pedaled into the marriage.  I have been in denial for a long time but now I am sure he really had no interest in being a committed husband, sensitive to supporting me and offering to be there for me.

Another client told me, “He has no clue.  The man I married essentially has little finesse.  He can be coarse and belligerent when things don’t go his way.  If I ask for something, it is ignored or I am made to feel guilty for even thinking in a certain way. This is no gentleness.  No sweet expressions of love.  My husband does not know the meaning a selfless act.  I see now that I need so much more than he is capable of giving me.  If one was to come up with a list of the 5 basic needs of a woman, he would be batting zero.   Not getting my emotional needs met is fast becoming the least of my problems.”

“Chris, my partner does not satisfy me sexually.  Everything else is OK, but I really think this part of our marriage is on a standstill and I don’t know what to do to get past his hangups. I hate to say it.  I hope this doesn’t sound petty, but we are really struggling with physical intimacy. I knew this could be a problem, but that is long story.  I though he was coming around.  I misread how big an issue this would become.   He is uncomfortable with a lot of expressions of affection.  He is really nervous and unsure of himself and the problem gets compounded because he not the kind of guy that likes to do the things I love.  Simply snuggling with me or showing affection comes unnatural to him.  He get’s antsy and insecure. I don’t know where to begin.  Should I tell him I am not getting my core physical needs met?  He is sensitive and I am afraid too much frankness could set him back.”

As you can see, everyone has their own unique situation.  But often, when you strip back all the words and look at the problems, there are some remarkable commonalities shared by all the women.

So where does one turn if you feel the marriage is  being held back because of your husband’s inability to connect with you on some very basic levels?

Let’s first make sure we are all on the same page as to what some of the key emotional and physical needs are for women.  Then we will talk about some tactics you can employ to help your husband see how he can step up.

What Are the 12 Important Needs Every Women Wants Fulfilled?

women's needs cannot be forgotten

I have learned it is best to reach out to get the best picture of women’s wants and desires.

So that is what I did.  I sampled some of the women I have worked with and asked them to give me examples of emotional needs they believe are important  in a relationship.

Here is what I came up with. It is far from a complete list, but these things I believe matter a great deal.  Also bear in mind, this list of emotional needs apply to most, if not all men as well.

  1. Women look to be accepted by their husband for who they are.  They want some assurance that no matter how they feel, what they wear, or how they look on any given day, they can count on their husband to love and embrace them.
  2. Another important emotional need every wife is looking for is security.  I am not talking about financial security, though that certainly is an important matter. What I am referring to security as it relates to safety.  It is a basic need we all have.  According to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, things like food, shelter, and safety are human’s top three needs.  They need to be satisfied first.  Having a place that provides protection and a husband who makes you feel safe is meaningful.
  3. A woman entering into a serious relationship or marriage wants a commitment from her husband (or boyfriend) that this bond and connection between them is not something that is loosely agreed to.   Every wife I have come to know needs to feel confident that her man will be there for her, lifting up her spirits when she feels down.  That he won’t run when the relationship runs into a rough patch. Every wife wants to feel that she can count on her husband to be completely devoted to making the marriage successful and help make her dreams and aspirations for the marriage come true.
  4. Being able to form a bond with your husband such that both of you are best of friends and you both enjoy talking and being around each other was also mentioned frequently as an important emotional expectation.  A wife wants to be able lean on her husband for advice, such she would get from a trusted friend. Being a lover and a friend are two different expectations, both very important in their own right.
  5. A wife wants to be loved and see it, hear it, and feel it in every fiber of her being. Unspoken love sounds fine in the mind or some romance novel, but love that is enduring is the kind of love that is active in form and demonstrated by act on a daily basis.  And a woman in love is not simply looking for a way to give and receive that love physically (sexual intimacy), but she want that love to be demonstrated to her in the form of emotional intimacy through acts of kindness, appreciation, and praise.
  6. One of the most critical emotions share by husband and wife is giving and receiving trust.  In successful marriages, the exchange of trust is a two-way street.  A wife needs to be able to trust in her husband about most everything, but particularly in the big matters affecting the relationship.  Having an open marriage such that you are able to talk to your husband about anything without fear of him acting badly or mistreating you is an important relationship building block.
  7. A woman want to feel seen and noticed.  She want to feel she has value and matters to you.  She wants to feel that you can be depended on to be there for her emotionally when she feels anxious or insecure or vulnerable.
  8.  The wife has a need to share one of her most valuable gifts….the gift of nurturing.  She wants to be able to take care of you and make you feel better as it will make her feel better, more fulfilled.  A woman needs her husband to let her in.  She wants him to open up and be vulnerable in front of her because she understands how powerful it is to give yourself up to another person.
  9. Women want their husband to feel sexually aroused and attracted.  While they may not seek out that attention in any visible way, they harbor a deep need to be “desired” by their husband on many levels (sexually, emotionally, intellectually).  If they feel they can turn on their husband and please him, it makes them feel more aroused and sexually satisfied.
  10.  Women need their privacy.  While they value having an open marriage in every respect, they also need to have time for themselves, by themselves.  This can come in many forms.  The wife may simply need down time after a particularly difficult day at work.  Or she may simply value having a certain degree of privacy when it comes to certain personal habits.  Even after we are married, we still retain a need to be alone at times.  It can help us recharge our batteries. Men have the man cave.  Women also have their places they need to go to think about things or enjoy the quiet of  beautiful evening or to go venture off somewhere just for the fun of it, maybe sharing it with you later as a surprise.
  11. If the husband is determined to exercise all of the personal power in the marriage, then it will fail.  Women (as do men) need their freedom to be able to make important decisions that may impact the relationship.  If the guy tries to take that away…take away her autonomy to be who she really is and what she really wants, then the wife becomes a prisoner in the marriage.  As a wife, you have no need to be controlled or ordered around by your husband.
  12. Another important need for every married woman is being able to explore the things that make her personally satisfied.  Women are happy and appreciative when they know their husband supports their individual personal goals.  They want their husband’s backing when they take on that hard challenge whether it be going back to get a master degree, losing those extra 10 pounds, embracing her lifelong desire to start-up her own quilt business, or whatever it might be.  A woman who wishes to grow to become the best version of herself feels even more complete when her husband stands behind her supporting and cheering her along the way.

What Should You Do When Your Needs Aren’t Being Met in Your Relationship

a good guy who can't see wife's desires

I always remind my women clients that no matter what is happening in the marriage, you always will have choices available to you.

No matter how awful you feel about the state of your relationship, there are things that you can do that will eventually make a difference.

I never promise a woman that my advice will save her marriage.

Nor do I pretend to have any power over a husband who may be doing an awful job of satisfying his wife’s most important of needs.

But I am convinced there are solutions one can implement to help with most situations.  Even if that path leads to breaking away from the man who has been ignoring your needs and pushing you away.

Let’s hope your marriage situation never comes to that.  But in cases that are extreme, one should not rule out taking a transformative step to improve one’s life.

So let’s look at some things that you can do when your husband is coming up way short in making you feel complete.

  1. If you are  just waiting and looking to see some evidence that your partner is willing to change his ways, you are approaching the matter in the wrong manner.  If your man has been largely ignoring what you need to feel whole and complete, and you have not sat down to have a serious discussion about it, the time to start is now.  Some women are reluctant to point out any shortcomings in their husband’s behavior. They don’t want to come off as being critical or unappreciative.  But you might be surprised of your husband’s reaction if you take him by the hand, sit him down on the couch or bed and just let your heart and mind flow in a calm, but directed way.  If your husband is a good catch, he will appreciate you telling him what you need more of.  He simply may not realize how he is landing short of the mark in meeting some of your needs.
  2. When you talk to your husband about your needs, break it in to pieces so that he can process it and act on modifying his behavior.  Don’t bombard him with a long list of things he is not doing right.  Too much, too soon can confuse and discourage him.  Point out to him the behavior you would like to see more of.  Limit it to just a couple of things at a time.  When you have your initial discussion with your husband about the emotional needs you feel are most important to quench, remain calm and make prolonged eye contact to reinforce its importance to you.  Don’t play it down or act like it is an optional kind of thing you would like him to do more of (or less of).  Your husband needs to understand these feelings you are expressing are coming from a deep place.
  3.  After you talk earnestly with your husband about your own unmet emotional  needs, ask him about his own needs that may not be met. Tell him it is important to you that he is satisfied, just as it is important to you to have certain relationship needs met.   Steering the conversation in such a way creates a win-win scenario which increases the chances of each of you doing a better job of recognizing what how to better satisfy each other.
  4. This suggestion may be a little outside of the box.  Let’s say as a wife you have been unable to get your husband to see that he is simply falling way short of meeting what you need on an emotional, physical, or spiritual basis.    You have tried to convey to him what these needs are and how he can step up his behaviors to make you feel loved and appreciated.  But what if things are not getting better? Your husband becomes colder and more distant.  What if you feel completely at lost as to what to do next and where you can turn to get some relief?
  5. While this is not a long-term solution, it is time for you to do something just for YOU.  And it’s something you do in private. If you are looking for near term emotional relief, then I highly recommend you cry it out in private.  It won’t change your husband behaviors, but a good cry is exceptionally therapeutic and can do wonders for your emotional well-being in the short-term.  Just letting it all out can rid the body of unwanted toxins that are built up, not to mention help you rid yourself of that awful feeling of helplessness.  Crying neutralizes stress and helps with the release of oxytocin which can have a calming effect on you. It can also give you a much-needed break from the series of disappointments you may be experiencing as a result of your husband’s inability to change the way he is behaving.  There is tremendous emotional/physical benefit associated with crying.  Certain neurotransmitters are released that help you better cope with the trouble spots you encounter in your relationship.  Again, let me emphasize that crying is not a solution to the problem of a husband’s insensitivity to your needs.  But it can help you get through a rough period of vulnerability.
  6.  Be reasonable about what can get accomplished. While your expectations should not be ignored, bear in mind that trying to get your husband’s behavior to be more  generous, accepting and flexible to your viewpoint won’t happen overnight.  Think in terms of little steps, making progress over time.
  7.  Creating and building goodwill can go a long ways in settling different notions as to how a marriage should work.  If you can make your husband feel valued and loved, he will be more motivated to  be more amenable to focusing on what makes you content.
  8. If your partner is unable to address your critical emotional needs and consistently shows little concern or motivation, then it is entirely possible your husband will never come around to actively working through the problems of the relationship.  He may be completely adverse to changing his ways for any number of reasons. He may display contempt for the idea of changing his behavior.  So there may come a time that in order to get your message across, a significant intervention is needed.  This is usually a last resort approach that you would adopt only after trying multiple ways to get through to him.

stepping away from husband

I am reminded of the definition of insanity which is,”doing the same thing over and over again, expecting different results“.  Sometimes the marriage is so broken by the husband’s failure to recognize his own shortcomings, you need to step away.  You might need to leave or ask him to leave for a temporary period of time.  With this approach, you are essentially drawing a red line, telling your husband that you do not want to be part of something that is so dysfunctional.  Making such a move can be tough on you emotionally in other ways, but it can also be very uplifting and free you from the burden of feeling you are trapped in a loveless marriage.  What unfolds later in the marriage is a function of many things that may happen (or not happen).  And that is something we can talk about more in another post.  But the premise behind this suggestion is that if you are very unhappy and feeling like you are spinning your wheels, unable to get through to your husband, save yourself first from future hardship (and your children if so involved).  Continuing to co-exist in a dysfunction marriage  can be damaging to you in so many ways.  So shift the paradigm.   Salvaging the marriage cannot be accomplished unless you can take care of your own sanity and emotional well-being.

How likely is your marriage to succeed?

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4 responses to “My Husband Does Not Satisfy My Emotional Needs

  1. So what is one to do when your lover’s emotional needs are through the roof? Is there way too much drama in your relationship?

    1. Take a good look at the post I wrote and some of the other articles that relate to this subject. I know it’s hard, but there are some measures you can take depedning on where the two of you are in your relationship.

  2. I don’t earn enough to live on my own so I’m stuck living with a husband who is aware of his emotional shortcomings yet does nothing to heal and grow.

    I was done years ago giving emotionally to the relationship only to learn there was ZERO emotional give in return.

    I am miserable. There are displays of affection and no attention unless he wants sex. This hurts me deeply.

    I know he has a past of damage and that has informed his present responses, but it has been YEARS that I’ve brought this up and he has done NOTHING to improve or grow – I would rather live in poverty than continue the rest of my in an affection-less, marriage.