A week or so ago, I was feeling a bit overwhelmed with my own housekeeping duties. Truth be told, I think I was just feeling the pressure of always doing for everyone else.
My house is not filthy or unkept. I was just the one that was tired of constantly making it clean and kept.
When I came home from Memphis (I left for Memphis two days after my post when I declared my frazzledness with a filthy house), my family welcomed me home with a clean house.
I didn't care how the task was completed. I was just thrilled that the entire house was cleaned, and I didn't have to lift a finger.
You see, my love language is clearly 'acts of service'. I am not a lazy person. Quite the opposite, actually. It is virtually impossible for me to be lazy. But, if you want to show me love, in the truest sense of the word, vacuum my floors. Clean my hardwoods. Replace my construction-grade master bathroom lights. I don't need poems, diamonds or hand-holding. I just want... need... you to do crap for me, even if you think it is ridiculous or a waste of time.
Okay, so what is all of this "love language" business?
With more than 30 years of experience as a marriage counselor, Dr. Gary Chapman, noticed a pattern: everyone he had ever counseled had a “love language,” a primary way of expressing and interpreting love. He also discovered that, for whatever reason, people are usually drawn to those who speak a different love language than their own.
According to Dr. Chapman, of the countless ways we can show love to one another, five key categories, or five love languages, proved to be universal and comprehensive—everyone has a love language, and we all identify primarily with one of the five love languages: words of affirmation, quality time, receiving gifts, acts of service, and physical touch. To learn more about each of the 5 love languages, click here.
I had read Dr. Chapman's book, The 5 Love Languages, many years ago and it was about 7 years into our marriage. Matt read it at the same time. We have been married for just over 15 years, and the concept of knowing and showing your spouse love through his/her love language was critical in getting our marriage back on course at that 7-year itch mark.
I already told you that my love language is 'acts of service'. I think I can attribute that to my childhood and upbringing. Again, don't confuse this with being lazy or being a spoiled brat growing up... but my Dad was a 'do-er'... he did everything. He rarely hired someone to do something around the house, and even if he did, he was there, helping, learning, and contributing. If something needed fixed in the house, there was no delay in getting it taken care of. My Dad and Mom were true servants in my eyes. Hell no, my Dad didn't cook and clean or head to the grocery store unless it was a beer run, but he got things done. My Mom did all of the necessities, of course, as mothers do. From a child's perspective, between my Mom and Dad's efforts, we were very well taken care of... and so was our home.
Matt, on the other hand, doesn't care what you DO for him... he cares about what you SAY... or what you don't. His love language is 'words of affirmation'.
Funny... because I am the one that needs to show him love through that language, huh? Um yeah, and we know how I am with holding my tongue or showing love through my words. My tongue is my biggest fault. Yet, I am married to someone who needs it to be my best trait.
For both of us, regardless of how much we love one another, it is very difficult. I believe, for Matt, it is much easier. For me, it is so, so, so hard.
I didn't grow up in a home where we showed love with words. Pfft. Like ever. It would have been great, but personally, I didn't need them to know I was loved. That is not to say that my three siblings didn't need those words of affirmation... it is likely at least one of them did and that is why they are so jacked today (hahaha... just kidding... we are one of the most 'normal' families I know... hahaha).
But, Matt... He grew up with words, and words, and more words of affirmation. Over the top words of affirmation. Still, to this day, his Mom and Dad shower him and his brothers with words of affirmation. But often times, STILL, the concept is so foreign to me.
In my mind, I think... "Why would I tell you this or that or how great you are... when... not to be rude or anything... but you ain't all you think you are?" or "I love you, and you are all sorts of awesome, but... but... so are lots of others..."
I am truly not a bitch. That is just the way I think.
Yet... yet!... I have learned to genuinely praise Matt when he does something as simple as filling up the gas tank in the van... or without fail, having a delish hot cup of coffee waiting for me as I rise in the morning... or for emptying the dishwasher... or folding the laundry. They aren't things I should have to praise him for (except for the coffee gig... since he doesn't drink coffee), but I know that recognizing those acts of love through words are important to him. So I say them. And, because I love him, I mean them. And let's not forget, because he loves me, he does the acts of service in the first place.
All of this to say, figure out your love language... and the love language of your spouse or your significant other... AND your children. Read the book. Figure out a productive way to communicate that love language to your spouse or significant other... and how to show your love through THEIR love language(s), not yours.
THAT is key.