Last night was week 2 of our Enriching Marriage class. I'm going to go ahead and recommend that every couple take this class, whether you are engaged to be married or celebrating your 30th anniversary. It's so great. You'll see.
This week we talked a lot about our love languages. I have a new appreciation for the concept of love languages. Each of us needs to receive love in our own language for it to truly resonate with us. If you are an "acts of service" girl, your husband can hug and kiss you all day long and it doesn't speak to you the way it would if he were to make dinner and clean the kitchen to show his love. We figured out that the way I feel loved is through quality time and acts of service much more than through physical touch or words of affirmation. Brad, on the other hand, couldn't care less about receiving gifts but feels love through words of affirmation, acts of service and physical touch. I think it's important to know what love language our kids speak too. One kid might treasure notes of appreciation while another might need more hugs and one on one time.
The big message last night was that once you figure out what language your partner speaks, you have to STRETCH yourself to accommodate them... to show them love the way they will best receive it. One woman needs words of affirmation but her husband is very quiet and doesn't talk much. It was suggested that he write her love letters and little notes of appreciation. Maybe after doing that a while, he can start to verbalize some of the things he has now gotten used to writing. Thus, he STRETCHES himself to speak her language of love.
Because Brad needs words of affirmation, I have to STRETCH to not focus on failures (or things he has forgotten to do) and instead focus on building him up and appreciating the things he has done. "Gratitude makes what we have, enough." (Isn't that a great quote?!) Leaving out the judgement, harsh tones and demands will allow for my recognition of what Brad's intentions are and where his heart is. Recognition and gratitude also inspire people to give/ do more. "I appreciate you taking the trash out this morning" is positive reinforcement that is likely to lead to a repeat performance. (And is more fun than nagging!)
I also had a little light bulb moment about receiving/ giving gifts. When I was growing up, my Dad would send me flowers for Valentines Day and my birthday. He is also BIG on sending cards for every occasion and always put a lot of thought into our Christmas presents. I hadn't really thought about it but I really did appreciate those things. Keri Maughan told us to just spell it out for our partners instead of expecting them to read our minds or get a clue from our past disappointments regarding gifts. Brad and I had a very honest conversation about gift giving. He likes big ticket items. Bottom line. I cant get him the frugal version of something he wants... because that's not what he wants! He'd rather me save up several holidays and get him something good one time than to give him mediocre things every holiday. Noted. I went ahead and made him a list of the occasions that I expect to receive a gift and I told him that small is fine as long as there are surprise WOWERS mixed in! It's about the time and effort spent on giving the gift that matters. So now he knows (and you can remind him): birthing babies, Valentine's Day, my birthday, our anniversary, Mother's Day, and Christmas all need a little nod. He can blame my Dad for being so thoughtful!
So... there you have it. Do you know your love language? Does the love language you speak match the love language your spouse hears, and vise versa?