His Needs, Her Needs: Building an Affair-Proof Marriage (Marriage)

Written by Willard F. Harley

Critiqued by Kathy L. McFarland


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Harley, Willard F. His Needs, Her Needs: Building an Affair-Proof Marriage. Grand Rapids, MI: Revell, 1986, 1994, 2001, 2011.


Dr. Willard F. Harley, Jr. is a marriage counsel and licensed clinical psychologist.   He has written His Needs, Her Needs; Love Busters; Five Steps to Romantic Love; and Give and Take (Inside Flap) He took up the challenge to explore how to make a marriage that is happy, and quickly learned that at that time, there was not much helped by professional marriage counselors.  This led to his investigation of the various problems in marriages, seeking solutions that were easily implemented.  Harley's book, His Needs, Her Needs, is focused upon building a marriage that is affair-proof.  His foundational answer is simple for married couples; meet each other's needs and there will be no reason to stray.

Harley's updated version of this popular book has been revised and expanded to include present-day help for married couples to meet each other's needs and build marriages that are affair-proof.  His formula builds upon the concept of love banks that husbands and wives can deposit their marital good deeds and neglect of duties causes a withdrawal of bank credits. These love banks, which contain ten types of deposits, are key to the author's ordering of marital bliss; though all individuals can fill their banks with the specific ten items, the differences between males and females in the importance of each varies greatly.  Wives think the deposits of affection (35-48), conversation (67-86), honesty and openness (101-116), financial support (131-142), and family commitment (157-170) to be the most important.  Husbands find the bonds of sexual fulfillment (49-65), recreational companionship (87-100), physical attractiveness (117-130), domestic support (143-156), and admiration (171-182) to be the most important on their needs list.

Harley stresses that temptation comes to those that must look somewhere else for their needs. Accordingly, it is imperative that husband and wife identify their emotional needs and develop pro-active approaches before a marriage becomes prohibitive to dependence upon each other.


This book is beloved by many couples who share the goals of the author to build adultery-proof marriages. But, the list that describes the typical desires of females and compares it with male needs lacks proper scientific proof with detailed surveys and correct scientific analysis utilizing control groups and enough population participation to be trusted.  All of Harley's lists of female and male needs seems based solely upon his experience as a marriage counselor, through talking with those in his circle of patients, friends, and family, with a healthy dose of Christian ideals that define men and women with separate interests based upon their genders.

There is no doubt that Harley has experienced these type of choices between genders, especially if it is assumed it was in his Christian circle, with middle-class morals and expectations. But, if Harley were given a chance to evaluate modern-day, typical married couples seeking help at desperate times in their marriage, he would find the needs of clients unrepresentative of the problems he describes, except in a small group of Church attenders of common Christian like-kind. Typically, the Christian unchurched or those oppressed, persecuted, rejected, poor, and excluded are so overcome with life difficulties, lack of support from the Christian community, attacks from evil to prevent them from reaching towards God with surety of faith as a couple or individually, sexual promiscuity and exploration, and Internet and computer game addiction that they are unable to survive as a couple without a serious addressing of their crippling sins by Christian leadership, counselors and fellowshipping support. This self-help book approach often works to enhance conversation and make a starting point for middle-class Christians.  Usually, those outside the group  of common church goers do not usually have any of the same concerns as the Christian perfects.

Scientific inquiry has come too far in our modern-day world to help all manner of conditions, illnesses, and directions of life for scholars to ignore its value.  Any counseling approach to marriages must utilize scientific inquiry and base their treatments on controlled findings that conform to proofs if they are going to help the majority of people. There is absolutely no evidence within the book that the author's findings are based upon reliable scientific inquiry. Further, the author fails to address the ravages of pornography and lust that have entered into most Christian and secular bedrooms. Deviant sexual activities and exposure to easily viewed pornography materials on the Internet must surely contribute to sex outside the vows of marriage. Christian women, who should be raised upon a high podium of honor and respect, are reluctant to even discuss the depravity of the events going on in the marriage bed today because they have been told that all things are sacred between two people, and sexual exploration is a good thing that will keep their husbands satisfied and away from adulterous acts. The devil has done his sufficient work in spreading lustful sin throughout the world and into the Christian bedrooms.  Yet, the author finds it helpful to discuss the importance of shared recreation as if that simplified theme can overcome the pornographic lusts within a marriage that demands men perform past their natural limits, take a pill, and look past their withered, broken-down tired wives trying to be more nasty to keep their husbands, even the Christian ones, happy.

Self-focused people buy self-help books, and the authors of these books recognize that this type of audience spends a great deal of money to talk with others, and their spouses, about themselves. If the author were really concerned about preventing adultery, then it seems that it should have been important enough for him to obtain objective evidence through scientific inquiry.  Those counseling broken couples within marriages are seldom concerned with Harley's list which seems really light on the real issues facing modern couples that lead to adultery. His Needs, Her Needs: Building an Affair-Proof Marriage is out of touch with reality, and does not address the serious issues challenging Christian marriages today.


Tozer, A. W. And He Dwelt among Us: Teachings from the Gospel of John. Ventura, California: Regal, 2009.

Kathy L. McFarland is a Becker Bible Studies Teacher and Author of Guided Bible Studies for Hungry Christians. She has received her Bachelor of Science degree in Religious Studies from Liberty University, is on track for the Master of Divinity (Professional Ministries Track) degree from Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary & Graduate School in 2015 and will be seeking a Doctor of Philosophy Degree in Theology and Apologetics beginning in the fall of 2015.  She is the Curriculum Developer for Becker Professional Theology Academy and a teaching  faculty member. Kathy's favorite studies to teach include the connections between Old Testament exegesis, Christian Apologetics, and Bible typology and mysteries.

Last modified: Thursday, 12 March 2015, 11:23 AM