loving his way

Loving His Way Instead of Mine

loving his wayLoving his way . . .

Love languages tell us we should express our love to our spouse in his/her love language. That isn’t always easy when we speak a different love language.

I grew up in a bi-lingual home – sort of, that is. Before I started school, my Pennsylvania Dutch was as good (or better) than my English. Years before me, there was a young girl in school who spoke no English. My older sister was “assigned” to be with Mandy* to translate for her. She remembers telling Mandy to get her sheah out of her desk when the teacher told them to take out their scissors. In time, Mandy learned to understand more English words, but having a teacher who cared and a classmate who understood and could speak both languages made all the difference her first year of school.

Speaking a husband’s language is foreign to most of us. As women, we are comfortable with – and used to – our language, so different from men. We want to speak our language to them, and they want to speak their language to us. And we’re both saying, “Huh?!”

. . . instead of mine

One evening when our kids were small, I was not feeling well. Dave kindly sent me to bed and told me he’d take care of the kids. I shivered under the covers of our bed, listening to familiar sounds coming from the next room.

The kids asked about me, but Dave kept hushing them. I strained my ears to hear what was happening. I wished he’d bring them in to me so they could see I was okay and I could see they were okay, but he didn’t. Oh, no. He treated me like he would want to be treated when he was sick.

“Your mama is sick. We need to let her rest,” he assured them.

While he did a great job taking care of the kids, playing with them, and getting them ready for bed, I felt uncared for and neglected. That’s because, when I’m sick, I want to be around people – but I don’t want them bothering me. Don’t put me off in a room by myself. Let me be there in the mix, hearing the warm sounds of family without any responsibility for me to engage. Offer me liquids on ice with a lid and a straw, a blanket to throw over my head, and let me stay right there with my family.

On the other hand, when Dave is sick, he is like a dog who crawls under the porch to die or lie in his own vomit (well, not literally). If he comes out, it means he’s back to the land of the living. If not, he’ll die quietly, off by himself. This is so hard for me, because what I really want to do is love all over him because I’m a nurse and a nurturer.

loving his wayLearning the language of loving his way

That day, Dave loved me in his language. I did not get the message, because it did not resonate with me and because it was not my language. I might as well have been Mandy back in first grade, surrounded by an English speaking teacher and classmates when all I knew was Pennsylvania Dutch.

Dave thought I should feel well-loved and cared for. His intent was for me to feel that love, but I didn’t. I did not get the message because it was in a different language.

In our diverse languages, I’ve been guilty of the same. I have checked and re-checked on him, hunkered down under the covers hiding in the dark in our bedroom. Certain he feels alone and unloved, I have kissed his forehead and patted the covers up over his shoulders when all he wants is to be left alone. Certainly, liquids and Tylenol are provided for him as necessary, but other than checking to make sure he’s still breathing :-), I now know to leave him alone so he can “die quietly.”

loving his waySpeaking the same language

In marriage and in any relationship, we do well to learn the language of others. When we understand why something is important to someone we love, we will more readily respond to speak their love language. Each one of us brings into a relationship our past experiences and language. We need to understand these past experiences about each other; we need to explain our language and learn theirs.

Dave and I kept working at this thing of speaking each other’s language. After almost thirty-seven years of marriage, most days I think we have finally arrived. It has not been without strain and talking things through, but it has been worth the time to communicate and learn a language that once sounded like gibberish to our untrained ears.

In our marriage and relationships, we need to understand the things that bring thrills and the things that bring chills to each other. If your spouse doesn’t do treasure hunts, find another way to present a gift to him. If you love treasure hunts, a sure way for your spouse to say I love you is to send you on a treasure hunt to find your special gift. You might even want to share this blog post with him to show him you’re not weird, even if you’re wired differently.

Marriage is like going to Language School. The only way to become fluent in a language is to practice, practice, practice. The best way to learn a language is to live with people of that culture. That’s what we’re doing in marriage. We learn to love in the language of the other. The more we persist and practice, the more fluent we become. In time, we won’t have to stop and figure out how to say I love you. We will already know.

Pinterest Loving HIs Way

A book on the subject of loving his way

The book The Five Love Languages -The Secret to Love that Lasts by Gary Chapman is an excellent resource. If you click on this link to purchase the book, it won’t cost you any more, and it will help add revenue to keep this site running.

Photo attribution: Pixabay.com. The photos of bubbles and the hearts are by Gerd Altmann, also under Pixabay.

*Although I don’t think Mandy will care, I changed her name.

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