Thursday, November 29, 2012

Day Eleven – That’s Legit!

{Photo taken by Julie Heuing}
On our wedding day, my husband and I set out a book for our guests to write their most useful marriage advice.  Besides being absolutely hilarious to read, there were a few good tips to take away.

One particular comment has stuck with me so far.  It was an anonymous scribble in barely distinguishable font.

It reads, “Being tired, hungry, and dirty cause 90% of the fights, so eat, sleep, and take a shower before making a big decision.”

I can attest that this statement is undoubtedly true.  Can you relate?

I think this advice is great because it speaks about meeting your legitimate needs.

Legitimate needs can be divided into four categories: physical, emotional, intellectual, and spiritual.  Matthew Kelly speaks about these legitimate needs in his book, “The Seven Levels of Intimacy”.[1]  He makes the point, if our legitimate physical needs are not met, we suffer.  But, if our other legitimate needs (emotional, intellectual, and spiritual) are not met, we do not directly see the consequences, however, they are just as “real and devastating”.  The key to a wonderful life is being aware of your needs.  Kelly writes,

“Even people in highly functioning intimate relationships need solitude.  And very often we need silence and solitude to uncover our legitimate needs in each of the four areas.  More likely than not, you will not discover your deeper needs in the midst of your busy, noisy life; real reflection is required.  Silence and solitude are the perfect conditions for such reflection.”

This quote makes me think about the unfortunate nature of the modern Holiday season.  People are ten times busier, more stressed, and financially burdened.  During the Holidays, we neglect our needs in honor of the spirit of Christmas.  Now, I am not naïve enough to think that everyday will be perfect.  But not meeting your legitimate needs should be the exception, not the norm.  And you should never feel guilty for taking care of yourself.  It might seem impossible to get some quiet time especially during Christmas.  But what if I told you it would juristically improve your quality of life?  Would you do it, or just keep putting it off?

Why do you think people ignore their needs?  It seems like a no-brainer to take care of yourself.  But it’s often the first thing to go when things get busy and overwhelming.  I think of the comedian, Brian Regan, and his observation about getting glasses.  He talks about how people put off going to the eye doctor for months and months.  He jokes, “Why isn’t instantly improving vision at the top of your to-do list?”  I don’t know, Brian, I just don’t know.  It is a funny line because it’s true.  We all sacrifice our needs and justify doing so.  Why isn’t having a better quality of life at the top of your list?

One reason we don’t take care of ourselves is because our legitimate needs get mixed up with our illegitimate wants.  Kelly writes, “…our wants can seem much more exciting and alluring.”  He also writes, “The reality is you simply never can get enough of what you don’t really need.  But we chase our illegitimate wants with reckless abandon nonetheless.”

What we see on TV, the internet, and in magazines, is that Christmas is exploding with illegitimate wants, things we can’t get enough of.  Do you want stuff to be the heart and soul of your Christmas experience?

What are the most important things on the top of your Christmas to-do list?  Make some time during this Holiday season to rediscover your needs in silence and solitude.

[1] Matthew Kelly The Seven Levels of Intimacy, The Art of Loving and the Joy of Being Loved (New York: Beacon Publishing, 2005), 216-223.


  1. mary, i love reading your blog! i wish i had something insightful to say - i dont - but i am grateful for your honesty...and friendship...and healing. xoxox. ana (hess) ebaugh

    1. Yay! Ana! So nice to hear from you! I am glad you like the blog. It's fun. Hope you are doing well, dear friend.