Marriage readiness is something that’s often missing in modern dating, but it’s something that singles can deliberately work on.

A key element of marriage readiness is self-awareness. By understanding yourself and your top emotional needs, you’ll be so much better prepared to identify a spouse who can meet your needs (and you, theirs) on an emotional level.

But what are emotional needs, anyway?

Dr. Willard F. Harley, author of the bestselling “His Needs, Her Needs” and creator of Marriage Builders, defines emotional needs as needs that “…when satisfied, leave you with a feeling of happiness and contentment… When unsatisfied, [emotional needs] leave you with a feeling of unhappiness and frustration.”

What are some of the things that are super important for you to feel happy, safe and content? Consider your childhood—did you feel praised as a child? Did your parent’s relationship feel secure? Often our emotional needs as adults are what we perceived we lacked as children.

Try to identify your top five emotional needs by taking out a piece of paper to write them down. Look back at your childhood and at what you feel has been lacking in your previous relationships. Think in terms of “to feel,” “to have,” “to experience” and “to be.” For example, my top emotional needs are:

  • To feel cherished
  • To have conversations
  • To experience partnership
  • To be understood
  • To feel appreciated

Before I understood my needs, dating wasn’t purposeful and based dating mostly on chemical attraction and interests. Because I wasn’t clear about my needs, I went completely down the wrong path and identified not only people who couldn’t meet my needs, but did quite the opposite.

If the foundation of your relationship is attraction, charm or shared interests, you may find yourself enchanted for weeks or even months, but that relationship lacks the foundation necessary to last a lifetime. Dating for marriage requires looking below the surface for both your potential partner and yourself.

Articulating your top emotional needs will help your journey to “Be the One to Find the One” who will be perfect for you!