We’ve been married nearly thirty years and for a lot of those years I gave my dear husband gifts … lots and lots of carefully thought out gifts. I would plan him surprise parties with cakes and drinks and decorations. I would invite the whole family and some friends. We would wait to surprise him. I’d be so excited and sure he would love it all and think I was the best wife ever. He did not … at least the party and gifts part.
It made him extremely uncomfortable to have all of that attention on him. He thought the decorations were a huge waste of money and he never really understand why people give birthday gifts to grown people. But he didn’t say a word about any of it. He just endured it. Until he didn’t. Until I threw him a big Star Wars themed party complete with custom decorations, a Darth Vader cake, and lots of people in our house.
That night he informed me that he hated parties. He’d just been going along with them because it seemed to make me happy. He didn’t want any more and while he was being blunt and honest he also told me to stop the gifts. I was devastated … but also strangely relieved. For years I’d been trying to get some over the top joyous reaction out of him with these parties and gifts while secretly knowing he wasn’t that kind of person. I wanted to show him how much I loved and appreciated him, but we weren’t speaking the same language.
Our love languages didn’t work. I wanted him to enjoy getting gifts as much as I enjoyed giving them, but that isn’t him and it never will be.
When I saw a magazine article about the love languages a few years ago it all clicked. It made so much sense.
See we all have a love language we enjoy giving and one we enjoy receiving.
My husband’s receiving love language is quality time and his giving is acts of service … neither of those involve receiving gifts.
My receiving love language is affection and my giving is gifts and sometimes words of affirmation.
Knowing the love languages and having honest conversations with people in your life about how they prefer to be shown love and appreciation can simplify relationships in so many ways.
Knowing that my husband prefers to show his love for me (and our kids) by helping do things for us clarifies our relationship a lot. He may not hug me out of the blue for no reason, but he will go get gas in my car or shovel lots and lots of snow off the side walk. He may not hold my hand without prompting, but he will make sure things work in our house and will make dinner.
If your communication in your relationship just seems a little bit off and you can’t quite figure out why, consider studying the love languages.
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