Lesson 4 of 7  - optimize your relationships

Marital Satisfaction Inventory

Are all your needs filled?

By Peter K. Gerlach, MSW

Member NSRC Experts Council


The Web address of this article is https://sfhelp.org/relate/mates/needs.htm

Updated 02-06-2015

      Clicking underlined links here will open a new window. Other links will open  an informational popup, so please turn off your browser's popup blocker or allow popups from this nonprofit Web site. If your playback device doesn't support Javascript, the popups may not display. Follow underlined links after finishing this article to avoid getting lost..

      This brief YouTube video provides background for this worksheet. The video mentions eight self-improvement lessons in this site. I've reduced that to seven.

      This is one of a series of articles in self-improvement Lesson 4 - optimize your relationships. This subseries focuses on improving primary relationships.

      This worksheet provides a way for mates to assess how well their array of relationship needs are being met - i.e. how satisfied they are. 

      This article assumes you're familiar with...

  • the intro to this Web site and the premises underlying it

  • self-improvement Lessons 1 thru 4 Parts 1 & 2

  • this perspective on primary relationships: and this...

  • perspective on surface and primary needs;


      Needs are psychological, physical and spiritual discomforts. Human relationships range from satisfying to stressful, depending on how well each partner's needs are met. Mates have a unique mix of needs because their relationship is (usually) primary. Psychological and legal divorce occurs because one or both mates' needs are not filled well enough - partly because they don't know how to problem-solve as teammates.   

      In my experience as a veteran therapist, most couples aren't aware of their relationship needs unless they're dissatisfied. If mates grew up in a low-nurturance  family, they may be used to their needs going unmet.

      If mates feel dissatisfied with their relationship, that's usually a sign that one or both inherited psychological wounds and ignorance from their ancestors. Few troubled mates realize this or know what to do about it - e.g. study, discuss, and apply these lessons.

      Seen all at once, the scope of typical partnership (marital) needs is daunting - specially if mates aren't working at consciously filling them together. Two requisites for this "work" are awareness and knowledge. This worksheet and Web site exists to provide the latter.

      If you want to evaluate your primary-relationship satisfaction here, take stock: On a scale of `1 to 10, how satisfied are you with your relationship recently? __ ?


      Check to see if your true Self  is guiding you. If a false self is in charge, it may skew your answers to this worksheet.

      Choose an undistracted time and place to use this worksheet. Print it, and give yourself at least 30" to reflect on the items. If you think of other relevant needs to those below, add them.

      For each need, rank-order how satisfied you are currently: "1" = very unsatisfied, and "5" - "very satisfied." Notice how you feel about each need, and about them all.


  • star or hilight needs you feel are specially important.. Notice any AHA's you may have a you do this, and note any you want to discuss with your partner or someone else.

  • print another copy, and use it to estimate how your partner would rank her or his current need-satisfaction with you. Then show this to him or her and discuss it. Ask your mate to do this too - and remember your needs the next time you hit any relationship "speed bumps."

  • fill out and discuss this worksheet every anniversary to evaluate the health of your relationship.

  • use this worksheet to identify which unmet needs promoted your breaking up with a former mate. This may help you understand and grieve your losses, and find forgiveness.

  • Many of these  needs apply to any relationship. Edit and use this worksheet to evaluate your relationship satisfaction with a relative, friend, coworker, teacher, older child, etc.

 Partnership-needs Inventory  

       "In our relationship, I need to steadily feel...

1)  genuinely and consistently loved by you

1 2 3 4 5

2)  special - i.e. preferred by you among all your other relationships and priorities except your own wholistic health and integrity.

1 2 3 4 5

3)  needed _ emotionally and _ physically by you, but not over-needed (codependence);

1 2 3 4 5

4)  respected and appreciated by you as a unique adult person, a fe/male, a mate, a sexual partner, a home co-manager, a co-parent, and a citizen/neighbor. And I need to feel...

1 2 3 4 5

5)  liked and enjoyed by you often enough, and...

1 2 3 4 5

6)  heard empathically (vs. agreed with), by you frequently; and I need to feel that ..

1 2 3 4 5

7)  I can trust _ you with my deepest current dreams, fears, shames, doubts, and joys; and that _ you'll tell  me the truth, no matter what; and...

1 2 3 4 5

8) companioned by you, in an interesting, stimulating variety of social and other experiences; and I need to feel...

1 2 3 4 5

9) understood empathically and accepted by you, with all my limitations, needs, wounds, fears, hopes, and dreams; and I need to feel...

1 2 3 4 5

10) steadily encouraged by you to free my true Self and discover and pursue my life purpose; and...

1 2 3 4 5

11) supported by you when I'm exhausted, discouraged, scared, or overwhelmed, and I need to feel...

1 2 3 4 5

12) separate enough from you, so I can have my own friends, activities, and goals and keep my own identity as an individual; and I need to feel...

1 2 3 4 5

13) confident that _ you'll want to fill these needs no matter what we encounter, and that _ you'll want to problem-solve our difficulties as a true partner; and...

1 2 3 4 5

14) that I'll be able to tell you honestly if my needs aren't met well enough, and then we can problem-solve together as teammates; And I need...

1 2 3 4 5

15) you to sacrifice some of your own needs and preferences without resentment when our needs or values don't match; and I (may) need...

1 2 3 4 5

16) to share the joys, sacrifices, and sorrows of conceiving and/or raising kids together.

1 2 3 4 5



1 2 3 4 5



1 2 3 4 5

       Can you think of other needs typical committed mates try to fill in their relationship? How many partners do you think could name the needs they seek to fill with each other? If you can't name and assert your current needs, how can you problem-solve?

      Now take stock again: on a scale of `1 to 10, how satisfied are you with your relationship __ ? How does your answer compare with the one you gave before viewing this inventory?

      Pause and reflect - jot a few descriptive words to summarize what you're thinking and feeling now.




      The joy and excitement of discovering and wooing "the perfect mate" inevitably deepens into a calmer, richer form of love, or it degrades into increasing dissatisfaction and frustration. Change is certain, because each mate's knowledge, tolerances, priorities, and bodies shift, and their social and physical environments constantly evolve. This implies that...

  • each mate must ceaselessly adapt to inner and outer changes. If they can't, the relationship erodes;

  • their relationship needs are dynamic, and require steady attention over time; and...

  • the magical combination of courtship discoveries and delights will never return.

Does this match your experience?  

      Do you mates have an effective way of identifying and satisfying your relationship needs? If not, are you working toward that together? Can you accept that each of you is needy without feeling weak, inferior, guilty, dysfunctional, or dependent?

      Did your parents talk together about their needs when you were little? Did they intentionally help each other fill them? What were you partners each taught about being "needy"?


      Needs are discomforts. The quality of any relationship depends on how well each partner fills a set of needs in the other partner. This Lesson-4 worksheet provides a way for mates to assess how well their relationship needs are being met. 

        If you're interested in forging a successful remarriage with or without prior kids, read this.

       Pause, breathe, and reflect - why did you read this article? Did you get what you needed? If not, what do you need? Who's answering these questions - your true Self, or ''someone else''?

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