on spouses and getting needs met

One of the ongoing conversations I had with my husband in our final months "together" was a discussion of needs, whether and how they were being met, and what role they should play in his decisions about our future. It probably goes without saying that we brought different opinions to that discussion, and it also goes without saying that we never got on the same page.

I've recommended the Assume Love blog here before, and I couldn't recommend it more highly to anyone who is interested in doing the hard work of creating, or maintaining, a healthy and loving marriage relationship. The author of the blog, Patty Newbold, has helped me continue understanding my own needs and the role that they play in my relationships, marital and otherwise, even after my own marriage ended. In short, she maintains that a person's needs are that person's responsibility to meet, and a spouse could and maybe should do what he or she can to help out, but ultimately it is not that spouse's responsibility; I couldn't agree more.

Something Patty wrote recently about needs and marriages resonated with me. It probably would have struck me any time, but I ended up reading this particular post on a "low" day when I was too busy and depressed to get anything accomplished but still managed to find the time to wallow and cry a little bit. I thought I'd share it with you (emphasis mine).

Getting unmarried does not get your needs met. Your needs are your own, whether you are married or not, and you deal with them or not. Getting unmarried does not make things more fair. It just takes away the source of help that deludes you into thinking you deserve less of a burden than an unmarried parent. Getting unmarried does not make you feel any less unloved or unappreciated. It only accentuates these feelings.

There is some context in the rest of the post that is worth reading, if you're inclined. I would recommend doing so.

Personal growth is hard, especially when it means accepting things about yourself that are maybe not so acceptable. It's easier to abdicate your personal responsibility to get your own needs met and convince yourself that you'll be better off without this person you used to love. But that selfish thought process is nothing but destructive. A marriage can't survive supreme selfishness; mine is one of millions to tell that story.

Ultimately, there's a better way. Patty is one of those beacons who is helping people find it.

What do you think? Should spouses be accountable for meeting the needs of each other? If so, is divorce an appropriate response? 

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