I’m so glad I talked about The Five Love Languages last week. (Click here to read the post.) Of course I didn’t look ahead to Dare 18. Ain’t nobody got time for that. But seriously, I generally just take things a week at a time and see how it comes out. And this is how it came out in the “plan”. Cool.
So in case you didn’t click on that little link above, the spark notes version of my personal love language information is: me, give through acts of service, receive through quality time, acts of service, and physical touch; husband, give through acts of service, receive through acts of service. (But go click on the link anyways, it’ll be fun. And I’ll wait till you get back….Oh good, you’re back. Onward then.)
Because of these ever so slight differences, I have felt like Kris (the woman from today’s story if you haven’t read it yet in The Respect Dare) over the years. On an intellectual level, I know in my head that my husband loves me. I can go through last week’s dare, and affirm many things that he does for us in a week.
But I don’t always feel loved.
And I will admit, that like Kris, I have not always chosen productive paths in trying to get this habit to change. I’m not really a nagger (or I try hard not to be a nagger). Instead, I’m more of a clammer. I just zip right up and get more and more indignant, more cold as I go about my day. And then, even if he asks, I say nothing is wrong.
Silliness, really. I needed to work on how to use the five love languages.
This really started playing out when my husband started traveling for business. The night before he would leave, he would have this list of stuff to do that never had anything to do with getting ready for his trip – time with the kids, checking fluids in the car, unclogging the shower drain, whatever. And with each item he checked off, my jaw got more and more set. I wanted time. I needed time. His time and undivided attention.
The first few trips I just got mad and cold and shut down. I couldn’t identify the problem.
The next few trips I just resigned myself to not being a priority (my thoughts, definitely not his) and was just sad.
I don’t when it finally occurred to me that he simply CAN’T do it all. When he has trip, he only has so much time before he has to leave. He does have priorities and I am one of them. I just have to be willing to look and see.
I used to be a French teacher. I get the concept of translating from one language to another. So I have the skills. It was a matter of saying “Ok he sends love like this. I know this. I can receive this as love.” Letting that truth absorb and then living it.
Here’s the thing with translation though – if language was as simple as words, translations would never be wrong and there would be no human element. Google translate would replace the need for human translators in government and business all over the world. And that isn’t the case.
Because language is about far more than words. It’s about nuance. It’s about cultural input. It’s about how you say what you’re saying.
So, let’s say I speak French (since I do) and my husband speaks Afrikaans. I chose Afrikaans because after some time in South Africa, if I really pay attention and turn my head a lot to catch everyone’s facial expressions and spend time with people, I can follow a conversation in Afrikaans. I can speak about 5 words of it so I can’t join in the conversation. But I can know the general subject. I can know if the conversation is positive or negative by watching for other cues. I miss all of the cultural references and miss where one word has several definitions. But I get the gist.
So I’m communicating in French and my husband is over there speaking Afrikaans, I can follow it. I can see his intentions. I can nod my head and smile when he does.
But it’s not my heart language and it’s not always the best way to get me truly understand something really important.
Same thing is true with love languages. I can know that what he is saying or doing is good and I can follow along. And I can know his intentions.
But sometimes when it’s really important or I’m having a hard time, I’m craving to hear it in my own language.
So do you want to know what I did?
Lean in close.
This secret may surprise you.
Well, let me back up because is anything ever that simple?
First, once I realized what I was doing in sabotaging his love language was I worked on my translating skills. I repeated to myself over and over the truth that he loves me and is showing that in these ways. Then I found ways to speak his love language more by serving him. And I even found ways to eek in some quality time by shoulder-to-shoulder time with him as he completed tasks.
Then after I did this and showed him through my actions that I was committed to not only hearing him but deciding he had my best of intentions at heart in all that he did, I asked for what I needed.
“Sometimes, when I have a hard day or you are about to leave for a trip, I can know in my head that you love me through what you do to take care of me. But sometimes I get worn out from translating. On days like that, it would help me if you could speak love in my love language.”
And that was it. No more nagging or complaining. No more clamming up and cold shoulder. I figured out how to show respect and submission in the process then asked for what I needed.
This may not work for you. You may need to choose silence for a time. A longer period of showing that you are working on the skill too. Your love languages may not overlap as much as ours do. That’s ok. Anything worth doing well is worth trying and failing at until you get it right.
Because it’s all a journey. It’s all a process. No one – especially me – is getting it right every day. No one is looking around thinking “yeah, I got this”. It’s about growth. And trying. And little bit by little bit finding successes to celebrate along the way.
And if we’re going on a journey, we could all use a little (a lot!) of help with the route.
Proverbs 3:5-6 Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding 6 in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.
What (love) language do you speak fluently and what about your husband? How are you able to navigate these differences? Would you share in the comments?
And in case you are looking for some thoughts on ‘fighting fair’ you can check out this post here.
P.S. Have you checked out our blogging team? Nina, who wrote the book, blogs about marriage, and parenting, and doing life. And Debbie talks about applying respect with our teen, tween, and twenty-something children. Pretty cool, huh?
I’m also on twitter @LeahHeffner and pinterest.com/leahheffner Of course you’ll never miss a post if you subscribe in the side bar and join us on facebook
We are so blessed to get to walk this journey together.
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