My husband went to bed before me last night, and I stayed up, enjoying the silence and space. Just as I was settling into a project, he called me into the room, asking for some affection. And no, I’m not just talking about cuddles.
Honestly, I wasn’t in the mood. I was more excited by the opportunity for alone time I left waiting in the living room. Plus, it was way past my clock out time for shenanigans. It would’ve been easy to laugh off his suggestion, and simply kiss him good night. But something came over me, and I even managed to say, “I was hoping you’d call me in here for this.”
It was a total lie, but one easily justified by my desire to tell him I love him. You see, I utter those three little words like 79 times a day, and although I feel them intensely, sometimes they sound like an automated response. As I committed to a new groove in the bedroom, I felt pleased with myself. Not only was I being an awesome wife, I was clearly learning a new language, and communicating in the way my husband understands best.
Below are five other ways I’ve learned to say I Love You:
1.) I cook for him. And no, that doesn’t mean I simply prepare food. I make things that are special to him, like collard greens, with the ham hock and all. They’re time consuming and stinky, but all he smells are memories of his grandparents’ farm. He loves their taste and nutrition, but mostly the sight of his Yankee wife preparing something so foreign to her. It’s love, and he knows it.
2.) I value the things he cares about, like fishing and surfing. If he gets a chance to do these things I fully support it because I like the vibe a happy husband brings to our home. He’s a solid family guy, so if he strikes out once in a while to pursue his passions, I hand out hall passes like I do lollipops on an airplane.
3.) I let him have his moods. Sometimes I’ll have such a happy or peaceful day, and then he’ll come home grumpy and irritable. For years I’ve done an assortment of things in response to this, like get weird and distant, until ultimately taking on his mood myself. (Misery loves company, right? Here ya go!) But my true specialty is taking it personally. I’d react as if his mood is directed at me, because if I didn’t do anything wrong, he should be happy, right? Lately, I’ve been carrying on with my high-vibe self and allowing him to come around on his own. The other day he came home from work quiet, and sat in a hammock chair. I didn’t suffocate him, pry, or head to the other extreme. I was sweet in my greeting, then continued playing soccer and having fun with the kids. When he warmed up, I was right there with him. Imagine that.
4.) I listen to him, which isn’t as easy as it sounds. For one thing, my way of talking involves interruption, which I once thought of as a normal way of showing engagement. He’d be like, “I walked into the lounge at the hospital and there were three bars on the table…” And I’d interject like, “Bars? Candy bars? What kind?” And he’d be like, “Um, how about you just let me finish?” Our children also interrupt us. We’ll be out on a walk and he’ll be sharing something with me, and one of our kids will be like, “Mama, moon. Moon. Moon. Mama, moon.” And I’ll just say something like, “Yes, I see the moon.” My intention is just to acknowledge so he’ll stop, but it leaves Josh like, “C’mon, really?” Now I hold up a finger or tell them to wait, because that’s just like saying “I love you.”
5.) I don’t make our relationship match anyone else’s expectations. The comfy bubble we personally live in resides in the larger (not-so-comfy) one of society, and there, it’s tempting to get caught up in appearances and expectations. It’s important however, to know what works for us, and do it even if I suspect someone might make a judgment about our relationship based on it. For example, a few weeks ago I had a baby shower to go to, a co-ed one. We were on vacation at the time, and due to the weather, Josh didn’t get to take the boat as often as he wanted. He was committed to going with me and didn’t grumble once, but truthfully, I didn’t mind going to the shower alone. In fact, I wanted to do things that he wouldn’t enjoy, like go early to help set up. I suggested that he soak up the last day of his vaycay on the water with his friends, even though a part of me feared people would think things like, “Oh, there she is, alone again.” But honestly, what other people think doesn’t matter, because they might see glimpses of our relationship, but they’re not inside it. What works for us might not be what everyone else sees fit, but that’s why we’re in a relationship with each other and not everyone else.
As the years go by, I’m fine tuning this deeply personal and exclusive love language of ours. Even though words are powerful, actions can be louder.
- I Remember When My Sister Was Born… - November 7, 2017
- When Love Isn’t All Lighthearted Fun - November 4, 2017
- Why I Avoid Rewards and Punishments, and What I Do Instead - October 22, 2017
- The Unconditional Love of Children - October 8, 2017
- Why We Ignore Our Kids On Family Walks - September 13, 2017
- The Day I Swam Out to Save My Son - September 3, 2017
- My First Week Back to Work - August 27, 2017
- How Marriage Made Me More Myself - August 20, 2017
- Let Me Explain Why I’m Running Barefoot in My Nightgown - August 14, 2017
- Maybe My Greatest Job is Parenting Myself - August 6, 2017