Listing, Ranking, and Using Your List

Today I’m talking about marriage again. In the first post in this series, I spoke about the benefits of making a list of one another’s needs. The second one talked about troubles that could be avoided by making the list. This blog will be about using your list.


What you and your spouse are going to do is make a list of your most important felt needs. Both of you will get value from going through this exercise.

Why Make the List?

Why will this prove valuable?

What's the importance of using your list?
What’s the importance of using your list?

No one wants to have hard conversations. You probably won’t come up with anything that will be really difficult when you do this list although you might. You don’t want to feel selfish when talking about what you need all the time.

So you’re going to go through the exercise of making a list of your ten most important felt needs and ranking those.

In talking about making a list of your needs and ranking them in order of importance to you, you don’t want to appear selfish. That may be a reason why you would never bring some of these things up on your own.

So the process of going through and working with this list will help you to have some conversations that you might not have otherwise.

Getting Started

I’m going to make it easy for you because I’m going to give you a pre-made list. This is a list that has been compiled from information from marriage counselors, pastors, and health professionals.

What I’m going to do is give you a list of categories that they came up with when they did their research. As you look at the categories, you may feel like something that’s not on the list ought to be. Tell your spouse that you think that category ought to be on the list and both of you add that to the bottom of your personal lists. Your mate may feel that something else is missing. Go ahead and add that to your list too.

You’ll end up with a list of 10, 11 or 12 needs that you’re going to rank.

Now when it comes to ranking, there are two ways to do it. I’m going to talk to you first about the one that is the most effective, but more time-consuming. Then I’ll give you another way to do it, which is less time-consuming, but probably not quite as effective, but will still be very good.

The Pre-Made List

_____ Conversation

_____ Affection/Romance

_____ Admiration/Respect

_____ Recreational/Companionship

_____ Attractiveness of Spouse

_____ Financial Support

_____ Sexual Fulfillment

_____ Domestic Support

_____ Family Commitment

_____ Honesty and Openness

First Way to Rank Your List

For the first one, you’re going to compare your ranking of every need that’s on the list with every other need that’s on the list.

The first way you can rank your list.
The first way you can rank your list.

So you’ll take a piece of paper and on the left-hand side at the top of the paper, write one, comma one, and then you’re going to come down in a column. You write one comma two, then on down one comma three, one and four, one and five one and six, one and seven, one and eight, one and nine, and one and 10.

So there you’ll have the first item on the list, compared with the second item on the list, and then you have the first item on the list compared with the third item on the list. Then you have the first item on the list compared with every other item that is on the list.

When it comes to using that, you will look at number one and number two on the list. Which one of those is most important to you? You’re going to have to rank them in order so pick one, then compare one and three; which is more important to you? Circle the one that is more important.

Then you will come down to one and four and decide if one is more important, or four is. Whichever one it is, circle it.

Once you have compared the first need listed with all the other needs, then you’re going to go through the same thing with the second need listed. However, on this column, you will jump over right beside where it says one and three.

The reason for that is you’ve already compared one and two and you don’t need to compare two and two. So you’ll jump down there and beside one and three, now you will have two and three and then move on down the column. You will have 2,4 2,5 2,6 until you get down to two and 10.

More time-consuming, but more accurate results.
More time-consuming, but more accurate results.

Then go through the process again. Compare each couple. There will be a couple of needs that are listed. Pick one and circle it, then go with item number three compared with all the rest of the items.

You will start with three and four.

So on your row there on the top on the left, you will just have one and two. And then you’ll have two and three and so forth coming down that left column on the next column at the very top. You won’t have anything there for one or two. But you will start with two and three coming down. So coming across you have one and three, two and three, and so forth.

Okay, so now you’re coming down so there are fewer items to put in your column because you’ve already compared them previously.

So we come down to comparing three and four. Below that is three and five, three and six, and so forth till you get down to three and 10.

Next, you will come across and you will start with the four and five until you get down to four and 10 and so forth.

You will finally end up with just nine and 10.

Once you have reached the end, you count how many times you circled an item The one that is circled most will be the most important need for you. It will be your number one ranking.

The one that got the next highest number of circles will be your second rank. You can do the third one which would be the third most items that are circled and so forth until you come down ranking from one to 10 with one being the most important because you will have circled that item the most times.

That is one way to rank it and it’s the most effective way to do it because you are making a decision on every comparison.

The Second Way to Rank Your List

Now here’s a quicker way to do it. It is a really good way to do it. It may not be quite as effective but it will probably serve your purpose.

When I do marriage seminars I use this method just because it is easier.

A simple list.
A simple list.

For this one, you’ll take the list and look from one to 10. Whatever one is most important to you, put number one out to the right of it.

Then look through your list again. If you could only choose one item, what would it be? Out to the right of that you put number two.

Just go down through the list doing the same thing until you have your list of needs in the most important order. The needs that are most important to you will be listed from one to 10

When you’re done ranking this way, you will have to look up and down on the right side to find what the number one most important need is and so forth because your numbers will be mixed up there on the side.

If you want to make it really easy, then you can rewrite them in the most important order.

Trade Lists

Having done that, we’ve come to the important part of this. Double-check to make sure that it represents your ranking and, without commenting on it, trade it with your spouse’s list.

Look at the list first without comment. Give it a minute or two until you’ve looked over the whole list. Then you can discuss the list.

Using Your List

Are there any surprises?
Would you have thought that your husband would have ranked something much higher than what he did?
Would you have thought that your wife would have rank something much higher than what she did on the list?
Are there any surprises there?
Are there any immediate ideas?

There could be some real revelations.

One of you may say, “Well, honey, I hadn’t realized that that was so important to you. I know we haven’t spent much time on that. I’m willing for us to spend more time in that area.”

Likewise, your spouse may say the same.

The two of you may decide to come up with some projects or some priorities in your mind. Because what is important is what your husband or wife thinks. It’s not what’s important as to how you think it would be. It is what they feel.

With an understanding of that, you can then meet your husband’s or wife’s needs more easily than you would have been able to otherwise.

I truly hope this is helpful to you. There will be another post in a day or two.

Two books on marriage.
Two books on marriage.

In the meantime, I have two books on marriage currently available on Amazon. The first is “21 Ways the Principle of Leaving Will Benefit Your Marriage” and the second one is “From Mountains to Molehills“.

In addition, the previous post in this thread, along with the future ones, can all be found right here.

Thank you for reading. I wish you the best in your life and your marriage

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