“He even acts normal.”
When we use the word normal about someone we usually mean that an individual has conformed to societal standards, but from a theological view there really is no such thing as “normal” for mankind. Since the beginning of time man has always failed to meet the standard of normalcy established by God in the Garden of Eden because of his sin, and yes I believe there was literally a Garden of Eden. So theologically mankind is abnormal compared to the standard set by God, and is constantly shifting upon a continuum of abnormality. One only appears to be normal when he/she conforms to the standards established by the majority of people in a society. In other words we are all abnormal to some degree, and we only appear normal to those around us when our behaviors are consistently established within the mainstream.
The reason I write this is because it helps us as individuals to honestly deal with the true nature that exist within each of us. We are a fallen people who often look to others in hopes that they will provide us with a sense of meaning and fulfillment in life. As human beings we usually seek out, unconsciously mind you, individuals we believe who will fill a void within our very being. This brings me back to last week’s blog, “Turning Unhealthy Marriages Healthy and Four Neurotic Views of Love,” in which I shared with you a simple definition of a neurotic need.
These are needs we all have based upon a flawed nature and associated with events from childhood and adolescents. These are also factors which play a vital role in shaping us into the people we are today. Again a neurotic need is a “self-defeating pattern of coping with life.” We repeat these patterns throughout our lives because we believe they work for us. The reality is these are coping mechanisms which usually hurt us more than they do to help us.
Most of us never really put a name to these needs but we know they exist within us, and everyone has at least one neurotic need. When we start to develop an awareness of these needs we are one step closer to identifying our true need in life. The true need of every human being is redemption through the sacrificial and atoning blood of Christ Jesus, and no one other than Christ can ever meet this requirement.
This brings me back to a point I made last week. As spouses we complement each other as gifts from God while acknowledging it is Christ Who completes us. So in order for us to develop and maintain healthy relationships we are to accept our weaknesses and the part they play in the choices we make when seeking a mate.
Examine the ten statements below and see if you can identify your neurotic need and that of your spouse or significant other. Once you’ve done this ask yourself some very pointed questions:
“Am I being honest with myself and who I really am in Christ?”
“Am I fully relying upon Christ to meet the needs in my life spiritually and emotionally, or am I placing a burden upon my spouse that they can never meet?”
“Are other expectations I have of my spouse or significant other realistic?”
“Do I use my neurotic need to manipulate my spouse or others in my life?”
Ten Neurotic Needs
1. A Neurotic Need for Affection and Approval
These individuals try to obtain love by pleasing others and denying their own need for self-esteem. They often allow themselves to be used or “walked on” by others. This person often thinks if he/she displeases someone then there’s a possibility they will lose the love another has for them.
2. A Neurotic Need for a Partner
These individuals want someone take care or protect them. They have developed a sense of learned helplessness, and often become possessive and clinging with extremely strong feelings of jealousy. The bottom line, they have an insatiable need for love and dependency.
3. A Neurotic Need for Personal Admiration
These individuals have narcissistic personalities who need to be the center of attention. They always seem to be on stage playing to an audience and drawing the attention of everyone in the room. Their thinking is, “Not to get attention is the equivalent of not being loved.” A major issue that can arise is that one person’s attention is never enough.
4. A Neurotic Need for Power
These individuals have contempt for weakness and often put others down who appear to be weak. They deny any limitations in themselves and attempt to rule others as dictators. When they’re challenged they often respond with anger and rage. This person also views life as a competition where they must always win in order to be loved.
5. A Neurotic Need to Exploit Others
The attitude of these individuals is “to get someone before they get you.” They tend to manipulate and use people for their own personal gain, and rarely do they feel any sense of guilt when others have been hurt by their actions. These individuals often make promises and commitments with no real intention of keeping them.
6. A Neurotic Need for Prestige
These individuals have a strong desire for social status and recognition. They feel special when others are envious of them, and they normally value higher positions in the community along with material wealth. They also make frequent use of sarcasm and tend to be gossip’s in order to tear others down. Their sense of social superiority is an attempt to cover their personal inferior feelings.
7. A Neurotic Need for Personal Achievement
These individuals believe the more they achieve the more they’re loved, and therefore success in life becomes everything. These people tend to be workaholics and are unable to relax and have fun with family and friends.
8. A Neurotic Need for Moral Perfection
These individuals have a desire to be morally flawless and being loved is associated with being good. This person often seeks praise in order to try and avoid criticism of self, yet they tend to be critical and demanding in terms of the expectations they have of others. Their air of moral superiority is a way of covering their personal inferior feelings.
9. I Neurotic Need for Self-Sufficiency
These individuals desire to be autonomous from everyone and everything. They often attempt to escape potential rejection by remaining uncommitted to people and organizations. They also claim being love isn’t that important, and what lies behind their claims of not caring is a strong sense of loneliness. These people often try to escape conflict in their lives by running away from issues.
10. A Neurotic Need to Restrict One’s Life
These individuals try not to be noticed and are often considered to be shy. These are the chameleons who attempt to blend into the crowd because they are easily embarrassed and anxious when attention is given to them. Talking is seen as a potential threat and is avoided because of possibly saying the wrong thing and being made fun of by others. These are the people who daydream and have a strong fantasy life which is a form of protection.
My intent in sharing this information is not to make you feel bad, but to simply point out that neurotic needs reflect a part of our personality and how we’ve learned to function within relationships. These needs feed our sin nature and are always unhealthy. By recognizing these detrimental tendencies and needs early we are better able overcome the devastating affects they can have in our relationships and marriages when issues arise.
There’s a biblical principles found in First Corinthians Chapter seven in regards to the treatment and needs of our spouses. Now this principle is found within the context of a proper sexual relationship within a marriage, but it also reveals to us a greater spiritual principle. Note the passage in First Corinthians 7:1 – 5:
1Now concerning the matters about which you wrote: “It is good for a man not to have sexual relations with a woman.” 2 But because of the temptation to sexual immorality, each man should have his own wife and each woman her own husband. 3 The husband should give to his wife her conjugal rights, and likewise the wife to her husband. 4 For the wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does. Likewise the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does. 5 Do not deprive one another, except perhaps by agreement for a limited time, that you may devote yourselves to prayer; but then come together again, so that Satan may not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.
Let’s put it simply, “The needs of my spouse are my needs also.” The law of reciprocation is a wonderful thing. The more I seek to give to my wife in order to meet her needs the more she will reciprocate in kind.
Be good to one another in your marriage and you’ll never be sorry for doing so.
Rod West, DBS