Welcome back! This week we're covering the other gender with what women really want and need in relationships. If you missed last week's post on what men really want, be sure to check that one out too! While our needs are somewhat similar, and everyone does need all of these to some extent, our top relationship needs are a bit different between the sexes.

And men, while you may wonder if you should really take the time to read this article, remember that a happy woman who is getting her needs met is one who is happy to meet your needs as well, including that one need that every man thinks about often, even if he may not say it to his partner - the need for more s-e-x.   :-)

So without further ado, let's get right to the juicy details! As I did last week, with each crucial relationship need, I've also posted a tip on how to meet this need for your woman, so you can put it into practice right away and watch your relationship improve.

Relationship Need #1: Caring

This pretty much goes without saying if you're a woman, but we really need to know that our man cares for us! And we don't just need to hear it, we need to feel this on a deep level. Some men have trouble expressing how much they care for their partner, and obviously since this is need #1, this can cause great problems in a relationship. To complicate matters further, each woman has her own definition of what makes her feel that you love and care for her. It's no wonder we sometimes drive you guys crazy!

Caring Tip: It really can make you crazy trying to figure out the ways to best show your woman that you care - especially if this is something that doesn't really come natural to you. For this particular need, I would suggest checking out the book "The 5 Love Languages", by Gary Chapman. It's a short read, and gives you a simple way to determine how your partner likes to be communicated with.  For example: my primary language is physical touch. If yours is something completely different - say, acts of service - it doesn't matter how many nice things you do for me - if you don't touch me often, I'm still not going to feel loved, even though you are doing all these things to show me that you love me.  (Luckily, even though it's not his primary language, my fiance knows it's mine, and he is really great at communicating with me in that way.)  :-) 
It's a great book to help any couple learn to communicate better and make each other happier.

Relationship Need #2: Empathy

Obviously we spend a lot of time talking about health here, and with good reason; it's impossible to live a holistically balanced life without good health. But it's also impossible to live a holistically balanced life without healthy relationships (although this does not necessarily have to mean relationships of the romantic kind). Since I am getting married in 2 weeks (eeek! can hardly believe it's so soon!), relationships and romance are on my mind a lot lately, so I thought I would share with you a few things I've learned along the way, during my long and often frustrating dating journey.

This week's topic is for the ladies - but never fear, gents - we're back next week with the second part of the series - "What Women Really Want" - so if you've been confused about this topic (and who hasn't?) :-)  please check back then to find out the answer to the mystery!

(Firstly, let me apologize up front for not listing the source of these 12 relationship needs - I really cannot remember where I heard this - it was many years ago, and I believe it was some sort of dating teleseminar or video series, but from or by whom, or on what exact topic, I have no idea.) 

Each individual has different things that we need from a relationship, so keep in mind these are generalizations to some extent. We all - both men and women - need to have all of these things in our relationships. However, the primary needs (e.g. MUST have in order to be happy) are a bit different.

I will cover the woman's side next week, but below are the 6 crucial things that men generally need to have in a relationship. That is, these are all absolutely necessary for a man to be happy in a romantic relationship - if any one is lacking, the relationship will suffer.

Along with each item, I will also list an actionable tip for how to meet this need, so you can put it into practice right away with the special man in your life!

It may sound funny, but one simple way to improve your relationship with your spouse (or other romantic partner) is to learn to take a compliment! Seems too simple? Actually it's not. I would say the majority of women I know (and some men) just don't seem to handle this well at all. (Note: This post is not just for women, although women seem particularly susceptible to this malady. If you're a man who has trouble accepting compliments, read on. If you can take a compliment like a champ, but your lady can't, share this post with her!)

I'm not sure if it has to do with our poor body image as a nation, the constant barrage of airbrushed advertising, or simple false modesty, but for some reason we women seem nearly incapable of accepting a compliment. (I used to be one of them, and I'm still working on it, but I've gotten a lot better at it over the past few years - through conscious choice - mind you. It has definitely made a difference - particularly in my romantic relationships!)

First of all, let's review some popular ways NOT to respond to a compliment (I've heard some version of just about all of these within the past 30 days), and then we'll discuss why these responses are so destructive to your romantic relationships:

I heard this tip a number of years ago, listening to a seminar on relationships. I don't remember what the seminar was, or who said it, but I do remember this idea very well, because it stood out to me as something that we all too often let slip by the wayside as we get comfortable in a relationship and start taking each other for granted.

Focusing on the things we love and appreciate about each other, rather than the things we aren't so crazy about, is probably the most important thing you can do to keep your relationship strong and happy.

While the idea is certainly true for both partners, from what I have seen and experienced in my own life, it is particularly something that women succumb to. I don't know why, but it seems to be female nature - maybe it goes all the way back to "the fall" in Genesis, where God says, "you will desire to control your husband."  :-)

Keep in mind I am speaking in generalities here - I'm sure there are men who would like to change things about their partners, but interestingly enough, while men are known as "fixers" when it comes to physical things, women are much likely to want to "fix" things about their mates. Don't get me wrong, there is absolutely nothing wrong with wanting your beloved to be the best that he or she can be. But it's a slippery slope that, if we're not careful, can lead to dissatisfaction, resentment, and eventually even the end of a relationship.