Have you ever heard of The Five Love Languages? It’s this book by Gary Chapman and the concept is that you receive love in an optimum way (words, time, gifts, etc.), so that is how you show love. But if your spouse receives love in a different way, then he might not be appreciating the way you are showing love. I know this because Bray and I took some test as a part of a premarital class and, not surprisingly, we have different love languages. (Mine is words of affirmation – big shocker there right, words!?!?!)
Well, I think Mr. Chapman left out a few options. In my marriage, there are two he specifically did not mention. For Bray, there’s the love language of “hanging out with my family at the ranch,” and for me there’s “hanging out with my family in the big city.”
This was brought to mind by two weekends this past month. Most recently, say yesterday, we all went with Bray to the ranch. This is not the farm in Louisiana, which I will post about later, and which has a few more creature comforts. This is the ranch in South Texas where Bray almost died from a snake bite as a kid. Yes, I’m a nervous nelly. I’ve been a few times, maybe five, but even before kids when I traveled with him I preferred the farm. So I suggested that instead of him taking the boys to the ranch this weekend, we all go together. You could have knocked him over with a feather! The next night he actually asked me, “did I hear you right that you want us all to go to the ranch?” On the way down there, he mentioned that it had been almost five years since I’d last been. This is a place my husband ADORES. He would move there if he could. He loves this place and it had been almost five years since I’d gone! Now I realize that it’s been a busy few years what with being pregnant with triplets one of those years and then having little triplets that aren’t particularly well suited for rustic three of those years, but still. Can you imagine five years without speaking one of your husband’s love languages??? And we had a great time. It was a beautiful weekend and Bray built a bonfire for us to roast marshmallows and we fed cows and rode in his Jeep, fondly referred to as the Red Rooster. Everyone had a great time.
On the flip side, the weekend after I started my job he stayed home for the full weekend. Saturday and Sunday with no ranch/farm/job pulling him elsewhere. I couldn’t stop smiling. We bummed around in p.j.s Saturday morning drinking coffee on the patio and chatting while the kids rode their bikes and tractors. We ran a few errands together and cooked dinner outside and all ate together around the patio table. We watched a Disney movie curled up together. We had church and not much else on Sunday. This was my idea of family perfection. Not one activity to pull us apart or make us rush out to an event well dressed and pulled together. I wrote about how the kids cried all Monday morning because we’d had such fun hanging out together that they weren’t ready for us to go back to work. That’s my love language.
The thing is, we both love the same thing and come away happy from the same thing: hanging out as a family. But we like to do it in different geographic locations which often results in us not actually getting to hang out together. The Five Love Languages reports:
Most of us grow up learning the language of our parents and siblings, which becomes our primary or native tongue. Later we may learn additional languages – but usually with much more effort. These become our secondary languages. In the area of love, it is similar. Your emotional love language and the language of your spouse may be as different as Chinese and English. No matter how hard you try to express love in English, if your spouse understands only Chinese, you will never understand how to love each other….Being sincere is not enough. We must be willing to learn our spouses’ primary love language if we are to be effective communicators of love.
Wow! Well, that’s a hard challenge for selfish human beings. But my thought is that recognizing the difference is half the battle. And it’s no surprise that most marriages have different languages since we were raised with different backgrounds, values, relationships, and families. So my challenge to all of us married women out there is to start small and make a change no matter where your marriage is today – good or bad. Maybe it’s going to the ranch more, but maybe it’s just making coffee in the morning. I’m going to write a little tomorrow about why we should remember it’s SO worth the effort.