I can love him like that

When Tim and I were married, we received a book as a wedding gift.  "The Five Love Languages" by Gary Chapman.  We both read it, but not until about 8 months or so later.  We should have read it immediately.  We should have read it during our engagement!  I think the contents are that important and influential.  As a parent, I've read the same book written to learn your childrens' love languages. 

We'll celebrate our 16th anniversary this summer and we still refer back to the lessons we learned from that book.  We just had the opportunity to spend 14 hours in a car together, albeit not all of that time was uninterrupted conversation time.  We had 4 kids with us and you can't very well be in "tax season" and think that a block of time can go by without conducting business over the phone.  Still, we had a good amount of time to catch up before the true busyness of this time of year starts.  It was good.  We usually have a "big conversation" at some point near this time of year, but often it happens toward the end of the season.  We address the things that have built up due to lack of communication and as a result of a crazy-busy schedule.  Despite the fact that I just said the real busyness hasn't really begun, the last couple of weeks have been a bit upside down due to some travel for Tim leaving me to be the single parent during an unusually busy family calendar. 

The bottom line of our conversation is usually the same.  (I do most of the talking, Tim graciously listens, I cry and vent a little, he continues to graciously listen, he apologizes, we discuss a few options for "problem-solving", we decide again that we're so glad we're in this together, with each other, and then we resume life with all that STUFF brushed out of the way for a while again.)  The "stuff" is usually the same.  I feel like I am a single mom of eight children instead of seven with a steady paycheck coming in to pay the bills and an occasional second driver in residence.  When our schedules barely cross paths, it gets tough to communicate effectively, and ultimately I begin to resent many things including living 20 miles from everything! 

Over the years, we've learned to identify when the communication breakdown is occurring so we can address it a little faster.  We've also learned that part of our challenge during this time is keeping each others love tanks full.  If you've not read the book, this will sound odd.  Basically, if we're not providing communication and expression of our love in a manner that the other immediately perceives it as such, then it is not very effective, and especially during busy times of the year. 

Of course we don't have the same primary love language!  Go figure!!  There are five:  Physical touch, Quality time, Words of Affirmation, Acts of Service, and Gifts.  My love language is acts of service.  His are words of affirmation and physical touch.  (Physical touch doesn't necessarily mean s.e.x!) Tim's physical touch desire is more along the lines of a long hug, rubbing his arm or neck, holding his hand, sitting close, etc.  (Not that he would pass on the other!) :)   Shouldn't be too hard, but I find myself making excuses of why I can't simply greet my husband at the door when he arrives home with a kiss and a hug and warm words of interest of his day or appreciation.  It would take less than 30 seconds, yet, often what he gets is me being too busy in the middle of making dinner and tending to whiny children to break away and offer those few seconds!  Ridiculous, I know! 

Given my love language, and even though I am smart enough to process that just because Tim isn't speaking it doesn't mean he doesn't love me, when he is merely coming home, eating and sleeping, my love tank becomes pretty empty.  I shouldn't even say "merely", because I certainly would rather that he be here at all than deployed overseas for months or years!  Satan often does a pretty good job of sneaking pity parties in!

This was the content of some of our conversation on our recent trip.  I have my idea of what I would really LIKE to do for my husband...it is pretty much in line with the guidelines from the 1950s on how to be a good wife.  We both decided that while Tim would enjoy the extra attention, it would initially be a little weird.  I know that I've commented about this before and said that I wanted to do it.  Well, I haven't yet obviously!  Maybe a strong consideration for this Lenten season coming up!  It's funny (not really) how the reciprocity of filling each other's love tanks works out!  :)  Much of what I do as a mom and a wife is out of love, but when I do something that I really enjoy doing, for example, cooking, I don't view it as much that I'm doing it as an expression of love, even though it truly is.  Now I need to remember that I want my family to feel the same love when I clean up spills and wash clothes and clean toilets--the things that I like to do least.

Jakob was needing a new book to read last night, so I gave him the love languages book for kids and briefly explained the concept of love languages and tried to relate some of it to the differences between himself and his brothers.  He was intrigued enough to take the book.  We'll see what becomes of it.  My desire to express my love to fill Tim's love tank is even greater when I factor in that my children will be learning much from it.  I tend to forget that! 

When we were dating and first married, Tim would offer to drop me off at the door, open the car door for me, pull my chair out at the table, etc.  All those chivalrous things.  I would have NONE of it, because it made me feel like I apparently couldn't do those things for myself.  I was after all quite capable!  I would take the time to pick out the perfect cards for people and send them and write thank you notes and make gifts for all occasions and decorate for each little holiday.  Tim felt like that was silly and a waste of time.  Over the years, he stopped offering to be chivalrous and I stopped taking the time to do special little things for different occasions.  We both decided this weekend that for the benefit of our children, we should resume and allow those things.  We want our boys to know how to treat girls and our girls to learn to accept those gestures.  We want to make occasions special with details and take joy in their delight. 

Funny how we're still learning!  My grandparents just celebrated their 64th anniversary yesterday.  They're still learning too, but they've certainly done a great job for 64 plus years!  I look forward to the same!  I CAN LOVE HIM LIKE THAT!