Neediness in marriage contributes to MOST of men’s affairs. The things you are doing to help may actually be pushing him away.
Neediness is damaging to relationships at all stages and is a major contributor to failed relationships, whether married or not. A little work on your part can make a BIG difference for the future of your relationship.
What is neediness in marriage?
Essentially, neediness is the behavior which results from a fear of abandonment. None of us ever wants to be abandoned. But, some people are so terrified of abandonment that they will do anything to preserve their relationship.
In some cases, that means putting up with emotional, physical, sexual, and financial abuse. It can also mean being ever vigilant to threats to the relationship. Often it means trying to get your husband to love you more by criticizing and arguing.
How he triggers your neediness
A needy person’s brain is on high alert to any signs of rejection or unfaithfulness. This may be coming home late, not saying “I love you” each day, or being too tired to have sex. Even his going out with a male friend, may be interpreted as his losing interest in the relationship.
Needy people react to such behavior by: 1) trying to stop the behavior from happening again, and 2) seeking reassurance of his devotion.
How seeking reassurance contributes to affairs
Unfortunately, the way needy people go about seeking reassurance is in itself destructive. They will use behaviors such as criticism, complaining, arguing, and interrogating.
This puts their partner on the defensive and creates distance in their relationship. It also teaches their partner to lie to them or conform to them in order to stop the needy behaviors.
Their partner then becomes resentful and feels like the relationship is a lot of work. Such relationships slowly erode. Then, the thing that the needy person feared the most—loss of love and abandonment, is created by her behavior.
Men can be needy, too, and a needy couple can create resentment and emotional distance in each other.
Needy couples have a roller coaster style relationship pattern. They push each other far away, and then join again passionately due to their fear of losing each other. That dies down and then they push each other away again, and so on.
You won’t make him love you more by attacking him
You may not feel loved by your husband or are irritated with his behaviors. No one like that. However, you will not improve his behaviors or get him to love you more by criticizing, complaining, arguing, or interrogating him. Men don’t like that. And, your continually seeking reassurance from him will make it seem like you do not trust him. Men don’t like that either.
Needy behaviors will emotionally distance him from you, make him value you less, and greatly reduce his inhibition to have an affair. Preventing affairs then, requires you to behave in secure and loving ways rather than needy and controlling ways.
You need to behave in ways that make him want to be around you rather than get away from you.
Replace neediness in marriage with boundaries
If you are not pushing him away but simply tolerating his bad behaviors, this is also a sign of neediness and is also destructive. There is a better choice than either being controlling or being passive.
What a secure woman does when her husband is damaging the relationship is to use boundaries. Boundaries protect the relationship by stopping behaviors which in the long run undermine the relationship. Boundaries do not involve complaining or controlling. Nor are they passive.
Needy people are afraid to use boundaries because they fear rejection if they do. Thus, not only do they lose respect, but their husband’s damaging behaviors continue.
Needy people will complain, argue, or distance in order to try to stop their husband’s bad behaviors. This results in emotional distance and does not stop damaging behaviors.
What secure women do
Secure people use boundaries which initially anger their husbands, but also result in conditions that are more conducive to a good relationship.
In addition, secure women will continue to show love and affection to their husbands at all times when the boundary is not needed. Needy women, on the other hand, tend to remain negative most of the time, as long as their husband’s behavior is ongoing.
Since needy women use negativity to stop their husband’s bad behavior, they are unpleasant to be around and their husbands avoid them.
If stretched too far, a relationship, like a rubber band, will snap. That could mean separation, divorce, or an affair. A secure marriage, like secure parenting, requires that we be tough when needed and loving the rest of the time. It is too easy to become negative, but that just creates more distance.
Insecure marriages, like insecure parenting, are either overly tough or overly nice—neither of which is conducive to respect or a strong emotional bond.
There is much more that could be said on overcoming neediness which cannot be covered here. For more help on this subject, I refer you to my book on overcoming neediness. I overcame my neediness and you can, too.
What you can work on to help prevent your husband from having an affair
Two types of damage are doing damaging things and allowing damaging things from our spouse. We need to identify and stop our damaging behaviors (neediness). We also need to use boundaries to stop our spouse’s damaging behavior. Doing better with these doesn’t require therapy. It just requires learning the related skills.
Skills to end neediness in marriage:
- Learn how to become attractive to your husband and stay that way.
- Use techniques for connecting that make him want to be with you.
- Learn how to have good boundaries to get his respect and protect your relationship from his bad behaviors.
Even for relationships that are severely damaged, making changes in these areas can create remarkable improvement.
Would you like to improve your relationship as soon as possible? I have relationship coaching packages for re-connecting, ending affairs, and overcoming neediness.
“I first heard about Dr. Ito when I discovered his book about neediness. After listening to the book and focusing on myself, I hired Dr. Ito to help me with my difficult marriage a year later. I’ve always been in therapy and my husband and I have done marriage therapy in the past, but coaching with Dr. Ito is so much better. Instead of just talking about my feelings, he helps make a plan to move forward. He helps guide you for your specific situation and tells you what to do. He helps you solve the issues, not just re-hash them. I learned more about myself and how I interact with my husband in 4 coaching sessions than in years of therapy. If you need help, enlist his services. You won’t regret it.”– Lora, California