In the spirit of Valentines Day and in the recent multiple recommendations I have made to people to read the 5 Love Languages by Gary Chapman. http://www.5lovelanguages.com/I have decided to write this month about the book and the effects it has had on my relationship. It’s about to get a bit personal and I’m not gonna lie, I’m a little vulnerable about publishing this. If even one person reading this gets something out of it, it will make it all worth it. I’ve found that reading and writing is an outlet for me in healing and growing so let the vulnerability flow.
About a year ago almost to the date my husband Doug and I were in a very weird place. I know that every marriage goes through hard times and I believe this past year was our hardest time to date. We had been married 10 years. We found ourselves just kind of going through the motions. We were in the mundane everyday routine. Working, raising kids, paying bills, chores and trying to keep each other happy. It was exhausting. Truth be told it wasn’t all bad but it definitely was not the relationship either of us always dreamed of or envisioned for ourselves. We believed we were doing everything we could to show each other love but we were both kind of left unfulfilled and to be honest a little resentful. We weren’t getting along. We would argue, our walls would go up and we would both get super defensive. We would listen to each other but we were not hearing each other. We were coming home so disconnected from each other that we would just do the dinner thing, then go do our own things for the night. For a little back story Doug suffers from depression and anxiety. (Yes I got his permission to write this and he is my editor.) I had no idea why he couldn’t just let go of some of the things he would obsess about. Although I have witnessed people in my life suffering from mental illness I never really could wrap my mind around it. Doug was on medication which he had started about 2 year prior and I was confused why he was still so anxious. We like a lot of couples decided to try counseling. We figured out through counseling that Doug’s drinking while on medication was quite counter productive to even taking medication. This is when he stopped drinking alcohol and it’s been close to a year since he has had a drink. The therapist recommended The 5 Love Languages. Now I don’t want to give all the credit to this book cause we had a lot of stuff to work through, but this book I truly believe was the start of our new amazing relationship.
So basically to summarize the book. We all receive love differently. The 5 love languages go as follows.
1. Words of Affirmation
2. Quality Time
3. Gifts Received
4. Acts of Service
5. Physical Touch
The book goes into detail about each love language. We all benefit from all the love languages but each person has 1 or 2 main love languages. You may know what yours is right of the bat or there is a quiz to take to help you figure it out. The theory behind this is that if you are not showing your partner love in the way they receive it they may be feeling neglected, unappreciated, unwanted or even unloved. It also suggests that if you are acting in a way toward your spouse that is opposite from the way they receive love, it can be very detrimental. For example if your partners love language is words of affirmation and you are constantly criticizing them, not saying thank you, not telling them how much you appreciate and love them, this can be extremely destructive to your relationship. Although every person would like to get words of affirmation, not getting it wouldn’t be as devastating if it’s not your love language.
Back to how this book pertains to our relationship. After reading this book we both thought it made so much sense. We were definitely speaking 2 different languages but had no idea it was like this. We could figure out Doug’s love language was physical touch. That was easy! Wink wink!! But I had to take the quiz to figure out mine. Mine ended up being quality time and a secondary of acts of service. So what clicked after we figured out our love languages was a game changer. Ah hah moment! I was showing Doug love with my love language and he was showing me love with his love language. I would think what the hell? I make all these plans for him and I to go to fun events together and dates. I make this mans lunch and dinner everyday. I make sure the coffee is ready in the morning. I do his laundry, handle everything with planning for the kids and he is complaining of feeling unwanted. Wellllll! What I didn’t understand at the time was although we would get intimate on a fairly regular basis it was the lack of attention such as the hug and kiss as he’d walk through the door, the brushing him off when I was making dinner if he came up behind me for a hug, the sitting across the living room instead of snuggling next to him on the couch, the rejection he felt when I told him it was too late or I’m too tired. His love tank was not very full. He felt unwanted. The same idea applied to me. He couldn’t understand why he would show me so much affection, always wanting me in a physical way, showing PDA and I was still aggravated with the relationship. The truth is when I would plan an outing to go to a concert or dinner or anything that would allow us to spend quality time together, although he would do it he would never show the amount of enthusiasm I would. Same with when I would clean the house all day and go to work to come home to toys everywhere, dinner still not picked up, kids not ready for bed. Or when he would start a project and 6 months later it was still only half done. This would make me feel so unappreciated and like the things I wanted didn’t matter.
Neither one of us intended to make the other feel this way but you can’t fix what you don’t know. I have so much gratitude for this book. On a daily basis we are using what we have learned from The 5 Love Languages to strengthen our marriage. I now will take the few extra seconds it takes to walk away from what I’m doing to give him a hug and a kiss when he walks through the door. I will never again act annoyed when he try’s to show me affection in public and because my love language is being met I want to be intimate more often then I used to. For me I have notice that Doug is starting to come up with activities that we can do together instead of me always making the plans. He has started helping me more around the house and with the kids. Projects are getting done around the house and I am feeling the most love I have ever felt.
I am not sitting here proclaiming to have a perfect marriage, not even close. No marriage is perfect nor would I want it to be, but that’s for a whole other blog. What I can say is that Doug and I have found a new respect for one another. We understand what each other needs and when we aren’t getting it we make sure to express that. We are so much more in tune with each other and take the time to put ourselves in each other’s shoes. We check in with each other to make sure the “love tank” is full and if it’s not we do our best to fill it. It’s become kind of a joke as I like to use it when I really want him to help me with something, like the other day when I wanted a bunch of pictures hung! To me it really is just about respect for each other. We have made a conscious decision to put ourselves and our marriage 1st. Yes, even above the kids, because without our marriage being in a good place what kind of example is that showing them? I want my kids to look back and when they think of their parents they think of pure unconditional love. I want them to have healthy relationships and strive to find that person that him and I have found in each other. Lead by example. I hope you guys read this book cause it really can help with any relationship, not just significant others. Kids, friends, family members. We all have a love language and we are all beautiful souls.