I recently read the book The Five Love Languages by Gary D. Chapman. I already knew that my husband and I had very different needs. Most of these I thought were just differences in our personalities and upbringings, and I have never really placed huge significance on them. I knew that when my husband doesn’t touch me except for sex, never kisses me and constantly jokes about my appearance instead of telling me he finds me attractive that I don’t feel loved. I didn’t really understand however that the same was true for what my husband asked of me. He isn’t a toucher, and I’ve often tried to compromise, and at the lowest of lows I’ve settled for at least if he was touching me sexually I would take it.
For about seven of the ten years we have been together he has asked for better home cooked meals. Rather he’s stated “grandma made it different”. “The noodles are too done.” “The spaghetti has too much sauce”. “Mom and dad always made a real meal- a meat, potatoes, a vegetable and a side.” Other times he would just make fun of me stating I burn everything. I would call and say I am going to grocery store and ask if he wanted anything, only to be dismayed that when I got home even though he told me no, he was mad I didn’t get ice cream, or chips or whatever it was he did want. He hated the clutter from having small children, though most days I felt lucky to be functioning as I would work from 3-11pm, come home eat dinner, be up all night with our son who the doctor told us was colicky, then get up at 6 am with our daughter. During these rough days I often took naps during the day while his gram watched our son and our daughter took a nap.
Years of frustration over these things caused me to give up. When his gram died when our son was two I felt like the only person I could talk to about it was gone. The only one who went out of their way to help, and who understood. She would tell me he was just like her ex-husband and it was something I had to deal with. I gave up on trying after she passed away. I moved to the couch because my husband would rather be comforted by our son than me anyways. Constant put downs, mean jokes, asking for a clean house when he couldn’t move his socks from the floor to the basket two feet away was more than I could handle.
A lot happened over the years and that’s a story for another day. Two years ago when I came to know Christ however, most of these things changed. I got counseling from a pastor and his wife and started doing more. I decided I had to forgive my husband for the years I felt mistreated and try to love him into the kingdom. I stopped arguing. I started just picking up the socks. I cooked as much as I could afford but at times I couldn’t even buy a gallon of milk. I thought he would eventually see my efforts, but boy was I wrong.
Around this time last year my sons private school indicated to me in a conference that they thought there was a possibility he had adhd and that there were things we could do to help. They recommended cutting back on sugars making a few diet changes. I did research, talked to my husband about and plotted a course of action. Despite working 9 hours during the day, commuting half an hour one way, and being home alone with the kids Monday through Friday, I gave it a valiant effort. I bought whole grains, froze meals ahead of time and did everything I could in an attempt to do what I thought would help our son. I thought my husband would see my efforts and be proud of I loved our son so much that I would make every attempt to help him.
Instead this pushed my husband away. In fact he has told me it pushed him more deeply into his emotional affair because it made him feel like I wanted to change our son, who everyone says is just like him, so I wanted to changed him. IF I wanted to change him I must not love him.
While these things are untrue, and in fact I had hoped to show love in doing these actions this is also addressed in Gary D. Chapmans book. When I found out about the emotional affair I tripled my efforts. I was however a few years to late. After the fact I didn’t understand how doing what he had asked all those years pushed my husband away and he couldn’t explain it to me, just said you don’t understand how it felt. My husband was right I did not. I also didn’t understand that not doing the things he was asking for made him feel unloved.
As things have gotten better, I’ve had a handful of individuals very close to me tell me that my husband has told them everything is great, we are doing better than ever before. I’ve struggled with this because I have felt like my needs still aren’t being met. How can we be great when I still feel so unloved. I recognize that what has happened has made me even more hyper sensitive to not receiving non-sexually touch, and the jokes have completely stopped because I have lost it at least twice due to the fact that he’s not capable of complimenting me, only making fun of me. He thinks he’s being funny, I think its hurtful. After a recent argument, when we actually talked, I told him I struggle with I feel like I am here because it was the right choice, not because you love me. My husband didn’t understand how I didn’t feel loved. I explained once again I long for his touch outside of the bedroom, I long to be kissed on the lips, and when he does everything in the bedroom is better too, but over the years he’s kissed me on the lips all of three or four times. That night he did make an effort to do these things for which I thanked him verbally and God in prayer.
I realize now, that as we are working things out, I am most days filling my husbands love tank to full. I’ve learned its specific actions that help him out at the barn, and around the home that make him feel loved. I didn’t realize these actions make him feel loved, but I do now. Other actions seem to have little or no meaning to him and I think that is because he has a very specific dialect to his love language. The more I ponder this I realize I do too. Everyday when he leaves the house he kisses me on the forehead. We are intimate more now than we have been since we first got together. In most ways things are better than they ever have been. Even though things are better, I can see positive changes in our relationship, but I long for more. I certainly do hope and pray for a spiritual connection, but I long for specific types of touches almost as much. To hold his hand. To have him put his hand on my thigh while we drive. Drape his arm around me on the couch. He does these things quite naturally with the children, just not with me.
This makes me wonder if we have such fine tuned dialects of our love language because we went so many years with our tanks running on empty. My husband definitely knows now what it is that I desire, and during a very brief conversation while he was reading the newspaper yesterday I explained the synopsis of why our needs are different and told him that I understood why he felt unloved now. My husband gave me the typical response of no response. I am praying that he will have the revelation that he can make me feel loved. I’m scared to not ask for what I desire because I did that for years and I know how it went- he didn’t do what he didn’t realize I needed. I’m also scared to keep requesting because if I come across as nagging that will have the opposite effect of what I want.
Even though actions speak loudest to my husband, his next motivator is positive words. I know how I long to hear positive words from my husband, so I have decided to meet both of these needs, and as I am already doing the first the second is a small burden to carry. I am hoping and praying that if I am consistent in filling his love tank, and positive in manner and words of affirmation that if I space my requests to be touched sparingly that he may begin to respond. I know even as I have already decided to this, that I will need help. I need not just any help, what I need is the Lord’s help. It is hard to keep on keeping on when you feel disconnected. It’s hard to continue to have a servants heart when you feel like your not making any progress. I am hopeful though, because I know the Joy of the Lord is my strength, and now I know that even though I still desire much I am making progress, because my husbands tank is full.