Christiandude's Reviews > His Needs, Her Needs: Building an Affair-Proof Marriage

His Needs, Her Needs by Willard F. Harley Jr.
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Apr 23, 11

Read in January, 2011 — I own a copy

Although the author purports to be Christian, I have a hard time taking that seriously given the content of the book.

To be fair, I believe the needs tests for spouses included in the book are of value.

Harley takes a very shallow, worldly approach to marriage. In my opinion, he does not show any evidence of writing from a Christian perspective. He seems to almost condone adultery, if the innocent spouse wasn't meeting the "needs" of the guilty party. Similarly, he appears to place blame which should be for the guilty spouse on the shoulders of the innocent party.

Regarding my observation of the shallow view held by the author, he condones men being demanding on their wives regarding their physical appearances. Similarly, he condones women demanding their husbands be astute providers of wealth.

Harley seems to lack a basic Biblical understanding of marriage as a covenant between the spouses and God.

I did give this book a fair shake, initially giving the author the benefit of the doubt, however, my suspicions were confirmed when I viewed one of his websites, wherein he unjustly chastened a person who was the innocent party in a divorce due to adultery. While we are in the New Covenant, the Old sometimes sheds light on understanding. Neither the Old nor New place any blame on an innocent party in adultery. In the Old if you were guilty, you had your arse stoned, there was no namby pamby exemption for not having your selfish needs met.

In conclusion, this book goes beyond bad and is just plain dangerous. The Bible itself is more a wealth of information on a good marriage.

I would not recommend this book except as paper to start the grill!
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Comments (showing 1-13 of 13) (13 new)

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message 1: by Lori (new) - rated it 1 star

Lori Kellogg I agree with you 100%


Josh Katsanis While I agree with much of what you wrote, and I firmly believe (and the Bible supports) that there is NO excuse for committing adulterer, the author is communicating to a world of people who do not accept the bible as the Word of God.
Additionally, as the innocent mate, I was glad to have explained to me how I may have contributed to my wife's affair and make damn sure I don't make the same mistake when I marry again.


message 3: by Lori (new) - rated it 1 star

Lori Kellogg Hi Josh,

I'm very sorry for what you went through in your marriage, or are going through. As I went through it myself about 5 years ago, I know how it feels to be the innocent party in an adulterous marriage.

And I also agree that self-reflection is valuable. It took me a lot of therapy and time to see some of the mistakes I made that contributed to my failed marriage. I do not intend to repeat my mistakes in my current marriage or in any other relationship, for that matter.

But NONE of the mistakes had anything to do with whether I was meeting his NEEDS or not! If I had not been meeting his needs, AND he wanted to stay married to me...he would have communicated his unmet needs to me and I would have done everything I could to meet them. I was committed to our marriage, to him, to our children, and to the lives and future we were making together. I would not have risked any of that for anything or anyone in the world.

That is why I think that His Needs, Her Needs is a very dangerous teaching. It gives cheaters an out and places blame on the innocent. Believe me, cheaters don't need someone out there, especially someone who CLAIMS to teach Christian values or biblical teachings, to validate their rationalizations that the reason they cheat is because their spouse didn't meet their needs!

Cheaters ALWAYS blame their spouses...otherwise they wouldn't cheat! They MUST rationalize their actions by focusing on the faults and flaws and the unglamorous reality of daily life with another human being. The difference between cheaters and noncheaters is NOT whether or not the spouse meets the other person's needs but about whether or not YOU BOTH stay committed to the fidelity of the relationship "for better or worse, for richer or poorer, in good times and in bad for as long as you both shall live."


Carrie Allen I agree! I can't believe that this guy is a Christian either! It just didn't add up for me that a Christian man would have written this book.


message 5: by Kurt (new)

Kurt Luther We are using this book in our marriage small group and I tend to agree. My first marriage ended in an affair (not mine) and I find out very hurtful as the victim to be blamed. Oddly enough my second wife loves the book.


Gene Christians cheat and get divorced everyday, the principle of need fulfillment is the same in any religion.


Jeremiah Marsh I think you missed the point of what he is trying to teach. He is not trying to make an ethical argument for having an affair. Rather, he is acknowledging that, unfortunately, affairs happen quite often and could happen to anyone. Therefore, he is attempting give readers tools to guard their marriage from attitudes, such as resentment, that can lead people to have an affair.

It is similar to preventing a break in at your house. If a burglar broke into your house, yes the burglar is the one who is ethically in the wrong, but that doesn't mean you couldn't have taken steps to prevent a burglary in the first place (such as night lights, alarm system, etc.).

It is very easy to read this book and get defensive if you have been cheated on in a relationship, because it will most likely point out a lot of truths you dont want to look at. But it can also be empowering if you are open to what he is trying to teach you. My ex wife cheated on me in Medical School. At the time i could not understand how that could have happened. I was at the hospital 80 hours a week to provide a good future to my family. On top of that, we had a small child at home that she should have been focused on. What i didn't realize, despite her bringing it up, was that she was very lonely with me never being around. Obviously that foes not in any way justify having an affair, but it does demonstrate our human nature as sinners.

If you are already married, it is difficult to change the person you are with, but you can change yourself (and by doing so, possibly save your marriage). You cannot change the fact that you are married to a sinner (and that you are one yourself). If some of the greatest people in the Bible, such as King David, made great mistakes in their life than we probably shouldn't fall into the trap trap of thinking that our spouse is too perfect to ever fail us....nor should we be so proud to say that we will never fail them. Hiding from the realities of a fallen world makes it no less fallen.

I am very appreciative of what this book is trying to teach. And i do think it is consistent with a Christian view point, especially the book of Proverbs. If a nation will parish for lack of knowledge, than maybe a marriage can too.


message 8: by Amanda (new) - added it

Amanda Buckles I'm just starting out reading this, and I'm actually hoping it isn't too Christian-y. If it starts getting too biblical or religious, then I'll stop reading it.


Carrie Allen Amanda wrote: "I'm just starting out reading this, and I'm actually hoping it isn't too Christian-y. If it starts getting too biblical or religious, then I'll stop reading it."
Amanda, I'm curious about where you got the book. I was given a copy by my pastor when I get engaged, as a form of premarital preparation/counseling. I assumed it was written with that target audience in mind, but perhaps I'm totally wrong. I hope you enjoy the book.


message 10: by Oliver (new)

Oliver Christiandude- appreciate your comments and starting this chain. Saves me from reading garbage


message 11: by Janet (last edited Sep 17, 2014 08:45PM) (new)

Janet Larson My husband and I just started reading this book and we just finished the 2nd chapter. Christiandude couldn't said it better with his review!! I was incredulous at the blatant selfishness portrayed in the fictitious husband and supported by the author! I also caught the inflections of blaming the spouse who was cheated upon because of how she didn't keep up her appearance and went to further her education. What? and the "love banks" and "love units"? Only thing is, my husband sees nothing wrong with the book!go figure!


Justin Tapp "Harley seems to lack a basic Biblical understanding of marriage as a covenant between the spouses and God" sums it up.


message 13: by Jessica (new) - added it

Jessica Wow, glad I stumbled upon this review. I've read the intro and preface and my reaction was the same. It's like something a secular marriage counselor would give. No biblical justification for his remedy for an "affair proof marriage". Sadly, a group of couples at our church will be starting this book tonight. I haven't read further yet, but I was hoping that he would eventually give scripture to support his position. Judging by your review, it appears he doesn't. If anything, maybe I can bring to light the inconsistencies during our group study time at church and direct us back to scripture.


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