The Alternative to a “Needs-Based Marriage”

“It’s not wrong to desire appropriate things like respect or affection from our spouses. But it is very tempting to justify demands by thinking of them as needs and then to punish one another if those needs are not satisfied. A needs-based marriage does not testify to God’s glory; it is focused on personal demands competing for supremacy. Two people, preoccupied with manipulating each other to meet needs, can drive their marriage down the path of ‘irreconcilable differences.’ This is cultural language that simply acknowledges that a marriage can no longer carry the weight of demands understood as needs. Perhaps though, the saddest part of driving down the road of unmet needs is where we end up. The road of unmet needs leads to nowhere. It is a forlorn, one-lane stretch of me. All it leads to is more of me. It’s worse than a dead end—it’s a circle that never ends.

But sinners who say “I do” have a different road to travel. It is the road of astonishing, undeserved grace—a grace so remarkable that it shows us the problem and then delivers the solution. Have you ever been on a scenic drive so beautiful that it was hard to keep your head from spinning from one vista to the next? The road of undeserved grace is like that. It is distractingly beautiful, because all of our true needs are met in breathtaking array in Christ. But it is a road of constant surprises, because we drive it with full awareness of our sin in light of the cross.”

-Dave Harvey When Sinners Say I Do – Discovering the Power of the Gospel for Marriage