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“His Needs, Her Needs” by Willard Harley Critical Essay


Most couples do not realize the flaws in their relationship until their marriages start falling apart. Harley’s masterpiece, His needs, her needs, highlights the critical factors underlying a successful marriage, which is full of love and understanding.

Before reading the book, most skeptics will wonder why they should read anything on marriage. However, after reading the book, one realizes that marriage is a wonderful institution, as opposed to the complications that people fall into due to failure to understand each other.

Harley guides his readers to learn how to understand each other’s needs before embracing them, which leads to incredible results. This paper provides a critique of the book, His needs, her needs, by supporting its relevance to the marriage life and pastoral work.

Summary of the themes, concepts, and principles

The book presents the theme of unending love, finding hope in marriage, discovering partners’ needs, as well managing through an affair by beating all challenges as an indomitable team. Harley (2011,17), talks of how partners can avoid extra-marital affairs by advising couples to reflect on their lives, find whether they were happy at one time, and if they were, factor out what they had to find out what have lost to become unhappy.

Love faces challenges when couples cannot understand each other, and then it becomes hard to overcome difficulties together. The entire book acknowledges that marriage cannot bring love, affection, and happiness, but the will by both partners to understand each other forms the basis for success in marriage. Many life-opening events arise throughout the book.

The book analyzes several concepts that married people tend to get wrong in the process of building their relationships. Other concepts arise when spouses are unhappy, and thus they are unable to settle their differences. Individuals create disparate concepts in relationships.

For instance, the concept of building love, trust, and honesty can help a relationship to blossom. Most partners do things according to their perceptions and feelings instead of how their spouses want them to be done. Therefore, the concept of misunderstanding arises, which leads to extra marital affairs. Harley (2011, 23) points to a love bank in a relationship where one can withdraw love.

If one cannot understand his/her spouse, then everything is withdrawn and love withers. Outside the marriage, other people know how to deposit love in this empty bank, which results in extra marital affairs. This book uses principles that stand out to build a good marriage.

The principles are basic aspects in a successful marriage. For instance, a married woman expects family commitment from her man, both as husband and as a father (Harley 2011, 157). On the other side, the man will seek sexual fulfilment and physical attractiveness from the woman.

Men’s needs are very different from what women need, and thus the basic principles should be reasoning together, openness, and appreciation. If principles such as affection, intimacy, and financial care are overlooked, then the marriage is compromised.

Critique of the book

Harley’s chef-d’oeuvre book is a simple read, but it is rich of wonderful advice for those in marriage and those seeking marriage insights. I have found the text useful and I really like it. The way the author unbelievably identifies the simple things that couples ignore, thus making their marriages complex.

The book is structured well, covers all topics, gives elaborate examples, and it highlights the means to move forward without losing one’s partner. The book does not just fix problems, but it strategizes on growing happy and loving relationship. After reading this book, I realize that marriage is a sensitive affair and the needs of each partner should be met.

Most couples live in unhappy marriages, which degenerate into fights, quarrels, and seemingly interminable unhappiness. Some of the things that people undergo in marriage, for instance, poor communication, failure to agree on issues, and fighting diminish and kill love gradually. Most couples lose hope in their marriages and resort to divorce or extra marital affairs.

After reading this book, my view on marriage has changed. Life in marriage looks simple and easy to blossom. Harley (2011, 183) inspires those struggling in marriages by outlining how they can move from conflicts to love. He lists some of the things that a man or woman needs in a bid for a marriage to prosper.

The book reminds readers of what is important in marriage, viz. his needs and her needs. Professional counselors and marriage therapists can use this book as a useful guide. This book is a powerful tool for the married people and those hoping to enter the institution at one point in their lives.

The book motivates and refreshes people’s opinions about marriage. The moment couples go through this book and start to understand and care about each other’s needs, the relationship blossoms. Apart from shedding light to married couples, this book provides rich scholarly information for students like me. In addition, the book is resourceful towards research work for my education.

Moreover, it prepares the young generation psychologically as the majority have negative thoughts about marriage. Most people do not read books about marriage especially those experiencing conflicts. Harley’s book is different, as it appreciates that marriage has complexities and the way out depends on how people come up with easy steps to apply in a successful and caring relationship.

Book’s contribution to the pastoral ministries

Harley’s book provides a wide scope of knowledge relating to spiritual discipline in marriage. The book is beneficial to pastoral teachings, since pastors can use it alongside Holy Scriptures as a reference material. Christian teachings about marriage emphasize trust, hope, love for each other, commitment, and forgiveness among others.

Harley applies the same principles in his book. Pastors as well do marital guidance and counselling to couples who find challenges along the way towards establishing a lasting relationship based on love. This book speaks of all good principles taught in the Christian doctrines.

The book seeks to salvage turbulent relationships, restore lost hope, inspire dwindling trust, and recover faded love. Couples have overcome divorce to establish a commitment to care about each other. This aspect compliments the work of the clergymen.

The Christian teachings discourage divorce, separation, and extra-marital affairs. Harley helps couples to avoid or deal with these situations. This book is presented in a simple language and sober teachings, which are suitable for Christian marriage guides for pastors.


The ideas presented in this book are so relevant to the contemporary marriage life. With the emerging trends and complexities in marriage, it is easy for readers to cope and establish happiness. Additionally, the book is resourceful beyond marriage, as it carries gems of knowledge for students and researchers.


Harley, Willard. 2011. His Needs, Her Needs: Building an Affair-Proof Marriage. Grand Rapids: Baker Book House.

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IvyPanda. 2019. "“His Needs, Her Needs” by Willard Harley." December 24, 2019. https://ivypanda.com/essays/his-needs-her-needs-by-willard-harley/.


IvyPanda. (2019) '“His Needs, Her Needs” by Willard Harley'. 24 December.

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