Many years ago I read a book by Walter Trobisch on marriage, and I think the title was something like I Loved a Girl. I remember very well a quote of his. It went something like this: “There is not a man on earth who can satisfy the heart of a woman.” I reflected on that quite a bit, and I am pretty sure it is true, true, true. A mere man who is made of flesh and blood simply does not have the capacity to satisfy the heart of a woman. It is impossible. A woman’s heart is created by God, and it is a mysterious thing (a real piece of work). So it makes sense that only He, the Creator God, can really fill, satisfy, complete, and meet the needs of a woman’s heart. This is important for women in all stations of life to chew on.The unmarried woman must realize that even though a husband is a tremendous gift from God, she cannot expect a husband to meet her deepest needs (whatever they are). Only God can do that, and He does it whether she is married or not.
The engaged woman has to get a good hold on this idea before she is married, otherwise she is setting herself up to be bitterly disappointed as she makes unrealistic demands on her new husband.
And obviously the married woman must grip this important truth, or else she will find herself being critical and self-absorbed. Only God Himself can fill the needs that He created in a woman’s heart.
I don’t think women themselves can understand their own needs for affection, affirmation, security, and love. So how on earth can women expect a fallen man to satisfy those needs that she herself can’t figure out? What a relief to get this straight.
This does not mean that a woman does not need a man. Oh no. Far from it. But she cannot look for a man to do what only the omnipotent One can do. A husband can do many things. But he cannot know all his wife’s needs, he cannot be there every time she needs him, he cannot say the “right” things, do the “right” things, all at the “right” time, and be the perfect supplier of all her wants and desires. A husband is not the Holy Spirit. He cannot save. He cannot justify.
Women are famous for complaining that, “My husband just isn’t meeting all my needs.” Welcome to the universe! Of course your husband isn’t doing that. I don’t think he is supposed to. The problem comes from 1) thinking that he can in the first place 2) assuming that a limited creature can do what only the omnipotent God can do, and 3) being so very focused on your needs at all instead of on your calling as your husband’s helper.
Here’s a novel idea to consider: How in the world am I as a wife going to meet all my husband’s needs? How many women really grapple with that one? When we let go of how well we are being loved, and focus on our beloved, we are set free from many things that distract and disappoint us.
16 thoughts on “Unmet Needs”
A friend recommended Trobisch to me earlier this year, so I went on-line and found a very affordable copy of his complete works.
I’ve been amazed while reading his works, including “I Loved A Girl,” to find that a missionary’s advice on dating, marriage, & relationships to Africans in the 1960s could have any relevance to my 21st century life here in the U.S.
His writing is accessible, Biblical, and relevant, and a very good springboard for your advice in this post!
“This does not mean that a woman does not need a man. Oh no. Far from it.”
Thank you for saying this. As a single woman, whenever I express any hint of this need, I almost invariably encounter the immediate assumption that I am expressing it inordinately.
A word to the wise: Please be a little quicker to show some sympathy for your single friends’ legitimate desire to be married and their real sorrow over singleness, and be a little slower to add insult to injury by rebuking them for a presumed sin. Of course if you do perceive that sin, rebuke away, but don’t jump to conclusions without listening first.
Good thoughts, Mrs. Wilson. Let me recommend another excellent book on marriage and family life written awhile back: “Bed and Board” by Robert Farrar Capon. This book, written in 1965, contains reflections and nuggets of wisdom on weddings, marriages/roles, food, and children. The author is a retired Episcopal priest and has written over 30 books. He was also once a food columnist for the New York Times.
An excerpt from “Bed and Board”:
â€œThe common notion of equality is based on the image of the march. In a parade, really unequal beings are dressed alike, given guns of identical length, trained to hold them at the same angle, and ordered to keep step with a fixed beat. But it is not the parade that is true to life; it is the dance. There you have real equals assigned unequal roles in order that each may achieve his individual perfection in the whole. Nothing is less personal than a parade; nothing more so than a dance. It is the choice image of fulfillment through function, and it comes very close to the heart of the Trinity. Marriage is a hierarchical game played by co-equal persons. Keep that paradox and you move in the freedom of the Dance; alter it, and you grow weary with marching.â€
I think this quote helps illustrates the point you were making–if a dance partner is concentrating too much on the clumsy moves of her partner, she will have a difficult time performing her own part well. And she wonâ€™t enjoy the dance nearly as much.
Reading Caponâ€™s book, by the way, is like munching on a box of assorted chocolates. You bite into one and say, â€œMmm, thatâ€™s a good one,â€ and another and say, â€œWonderful!â€ and so on. Occasionally youâ€™ll get one that makes you wrinkle your nose a little. Still, â€œBed and Boardâ€ is a delightful read best savored slowly. Unfortunately, the book is out of print, but some used copies are available at Amazon.
Thank you, Mrs. Wilson, for this post! A much-needed reminder and lesson to me. I so often fall into that mopey pit of feeling sorry for myself and mumbling about how no one appreciates me or the work I do, especially my husband. I really need to look to the example of Christ, how He “came not to be served but to serve”. Thanks again for the encouraging word!
Angie, thanks for the book plug. My husband and I both enjoyed Capon’s “Supper of the Lamb” and Doug has gone on to read more of Capon’s books. We will look for this one.
I write a monthly newsletter for our ladies’ group at church, and one regular section in it is called “Christian Womanhood.” Would you mind if I copied this post and used it for that, with your name and the url to this post?
Barbara, by all means feel free. Thank you for checking.
Nancy, do you think this is what God is referring to in Genesis 3 when He says to Eve, “Your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you”? Is this verse about our constant, almost pathological desire for more, more, more of these male creatures we married? Maybe since the Fall, when our fellowship with God became hindered, we women tend to seek fulfillment in our men, and our men seek it in their work? Just thinking out loud… What does everyone else think?
Brandi, thanks for all your good comments. Every calling has its temptations, married or unmarried, doctors or nurses, men or women. That’s the way it is. The Genesis passage you refer to, I believe is referring to woman’s desire to have mastery over her husband. But a subset of this is what you describe. Yep, it’s all a result of the fall. A woman’s relationship with her husband is obviously affected by sin.
Hi dear this is great.. just wanted to share
This is exactly what most young women need to hear.
And for Valerie, (if I may) I would say that when those listening accuse or jump on your desire remember two things:
1.) it is a godly desire to long to be a fruitful vine
2.) God has a very distinct purpose during the time that you are not bound to a husband also: and in that His purpose for you stands, take great joy, for “what is man that Thou art mindful of him?”
Mrs. Wilson if permissible, I would like to bless other young ladies by linking to this post also.
Please feel free!
Thanks, Elizabeth, for your kind encouragement. We are very much in agreement…except for the implication by “other” that I am also a “young lady.” Turnin’ 40 next month, AAMOF, so I’ve been practicing referring to myself as middle aged. 😉
Thank you, Mrs. Wilson.
You’re welcome, Valerie. 😉 and Happy Birthday!
I’m preparing to lead a seminar on Biblical Femininity and came back to this post. I’m looking for something to put submission in context, that “your husband is not a replacement for your first love” and “husbands make lousy idols” leading into the notion that submission does not mean we follow them into sin. This is perfect food for thought and just what I needed. Thank you!