Marriage is supposed to be hard work, so I have an assignment for you. Learn your husband’s love language.
“You are so handsome.” I batted my lashes at my hubby from across the kitchen table. He kept his eyes fixed on a magazine and stuck out his tongue. “I adore you,” I crooned again. “Do you know what a great dad you are?”
“Uh-huh.” He looked up. “Hey, do you know late the dry cleaner is open?”
“The dry cleaner?” My face drooped. “Didn’t you hear what I said? I’m pouring my heart out to you here, and you’re talking about the dry cleaner.”
“What, I need to pick up my shirts. Would you hand me those chips, please?”
Heaven help us.
My love language? Words of affirmation. Tell me I’m special, compliment my hair or my parenting or my casserole. Reassure me with words that say you love me, then I will feel loved.
The hubby man, on the other hand, is not a gushy words guy. I could tell him a hundred times a day what a brilliant, strong and sexy specimen of divine workmanship he is (no lie), but it wouldn’t register nearly as much as taking out the garbage. Because my husband values acts of service more than words of affirmation.
Compliments don’t come naturally to him. He’s learning they’re important to me, though (because I not-so-gently remind him often), and every once in a while he surprises me. Like last Saturday.
“What are you doing, Beautiful?”
I turned around to see who he was talking to. There were only two people in the kitchen—my husband and the frumpy lady in a faded apron who was poking toothpicks into a batch of muffins. My husband looked straight at me and smiled, so clearly he was referring to the muffin frump. I smiled back.
“I’m checking to see if these muffins are done. Do you want one?”
“Sure. I love your muffins.” He patted my tush and walked away. Inside, my heart squealed. He called me beautiful! Yay!
Fast forward half a day. I tackled a typical Saturday to-do list—laundry, e-mails, baking. But when I went downstairs to the basement to throw in a load of wash, I spotted the mess of hand-me-down clothing bins scattered across my husband’s workshop in the back of the room. These were my responsibility; a project I’d been putting off because it wasn’t urgent and, quite frankly, the disorganized clothes didn’t bother me. After all, I don’t need to step over the haphazard piles to reach the hammer and duct tape. That’s my husband’s problem.
Or is it mine?
Earlier that morning, my sweet hubby stretched beyond his comfort zone to speak my love language. I realized at that moment that I needed to sacrifice my own agenda to speak back—in the language he knew best. So I put aside the laundry, heaved a deep sigh, and hauled those clothing bins to the living room for some serious de-cluttering. Three hours later, my husband had a clear path to his workbench. And I had a better understanding of how to love him.
Think of it this way. Imagine if I gave my husband a Kitchen Aid mixer for his birthday instead of new hunting boots. Because of course I would swoon to see a shiny Kitchen Aid sitting on the counter. Eeek! It’s what I’ve always wanted! But it’s not what my husband wants. He drools over hunting boots. So it’d be pretty ridiculous to give him my heart’s desire for his birthday, right? How would I feel if he gave me hunting boots for mine? Yuck.
Of course we know we love each other. But I feel loved best when my husband shows it in the way that speaks to my heart. And so does he. Isn’t God funny? Often he pairs two people with opposite love languages—in order to teach us how to love unconditionally.
“We love because he first loved us,” (1 John 4:19).
“Honey, I organized the bins. I knew it was important to you and I’m sorry it took me so long.”
“I saw that.” He wrapped his arms around me. “Thank you.”
“Beautiful.” I corrected.
“You mean, thank you, Beautiful. That’s my new name.”
He shook his head and laughed softly. “I love you.”
“I love you, too.” And from now on, I’m going to show it better.
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