He was a young wife’s dream. And he knew it.
So you can imagine his manly frustration when I began tearfully, “Why can’t you just love me?”
“LOVE YOU?! Listen, Sweetheart, (although his tone didn’t match the word in the least). There’s nothing I haven’t done for you around here. I’ve vacuumed. Cleaned the bathroom. Even mopped the kitchen floor.”
“So…?” (I couldn’t see what this had to do with anything).
Then he got that funny look in his eyes. Like he might very well be losing his mind. And somehow I had something to do with it.
I attempted to explain. “Don’t you get it? I don’t care about those things. I’m fine doing all the housework. What would make me feel more loved is….if you’d take me out for coffee.“
He couldn’t believe what he was hearing. “Are you telling me that I’ve been working my fingers to the bone and all you want is a latte??”
Yes. Pretty much.
Then his face got kinda twitchy on me. “But I thought all wives felt loved if their husbands helped around the house.”
“Well, I guess I’m not ‘all wives’. Because what I want is for a sit-down time with you. Preferably somewhere else – away from this tiny, pink apartment.”
I honestly didn’t want to frustrate the guy. And I certainly didn’t want push him over the mental edge. But I did want him to show love in a way that said love to me.
And for me? Housework was….well, just housework. Not love. (Although I have a friend who nearly swoons if hers does the dishes). I prefer talking about everything under the sun over a cup of dark roast coffee any day.
I loved my new husband. And there’s no doubt he loved me. But here he was putting all his efforts into something that had little, or no, meaning to me. Frustrating him. Depressing me. And all because we didn’t realize that love can look a bit different to each person.
So How Do You Say Love in Your Marriage?
Appreciate his gestures of love. Even if they don’t necessarily fill your tank. If he’s working long hours to provide? Then acknowledge his hard work – don’t merely nag on him for being gone. If he takes you out for a burger when you were hoping for the sushi bar? Then substitute a salad for the fries, but enjoy the time with him. His attempts to show love should still count for something.
Let him know what speaks love to you. Spell it out. What is obvious to you might not be nearly as clear to him. Tell him what touches you – and help him see what a difference it makes in your heart. No point in leaving him to wildly guess what it is you want from him.
Keep your love-needs simple. Don’t make him feel like he can never measure up. Like you want him to help with the housework. And take you out to nice places. And watch the children. And work hard at his job. And…..Because if he senses that there’s a never-ending list, then he might as well stop trying at all.
Speak love back to him. If you don’t already know, then be willing to ask him the kinds of things that say love to him. Not only the obvious and important ones – respect and physical intimacy – but the others as well. A tidy house? A joy-filled home? A supportive spirit from you? Then love on him in these ways too.
Because often you have two people who love each other deeply – yet they’re not showing it in ways that are meaningful to the other person. So why not go out for a cup of dark roast coffee (or sushi, or a burger) and talk through what says love to you?
Then go home and start speaking better love to one another. Often. Passionately. And each in his or her own way.
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*This article first appeared at Time-Warp Wife