We all struggle, don’t we? Even the best marriages hit bumps in the road and did we ever last week!
We are actually opposites, but they say, opposites attract right? We KNOW God meant us for each other. Where he is weak, I am strong and where he is strong I am very weak!
There is no doubt we love each other, right? Everyone can see it, comments on it and we (I) confess it often. So what happened? Unexpectedly, last week, we both verbalized we didn’t “feel” loved by the other! How does that happen?
We are Christians, we have Jesus as the center of our relationship. Everything should be good, right? Wrong! In fact, “Christians” divorce at the same rate as those who don’t know the Lord! WOW! That is why I have this passion to share about our marriage…and this blog! Divorce is not only NOT an option, we took the advice of Gary Smalley, don’t even use the D word in your household!
We have read nearly every Christian book on marriage (there is an excellent chapter in one, Unrealistic Expectations and Unmet Needs, but I can’t find it to post.) We have even taken a number of marriage courses as well as facilitated “Family Life Today” Homebuilders series for several years (a highlight in our lives for sure).
We have read and applied the principles in our favorite book of all time (next to the Bible) Love Life for Every Married Couple. We not only attended the “5 Love Languages” seminar by Gary Chapman, but we bought the book and training materials. It really opened our eyes to help us better communicate. While we all practice and need all five languages of love, we all have a PRIMARY language!
At the 5 Love Languages Seminar, Bill’s primary language, we learned, are “acts of service” and my language is “words of affirmation.” So as I reflected back, I could see clearly that Bill primarily shows me his love and is how he shows Christ’s love to others! After the course, I made a concerted effort to primarily show Bill his language of love by having a servant’s heart with him.
Sadly, Bill did not seem to grasp my language of love. For some reason, he is just not wired to say or RECEIVE “words of affirmation.” I think there is something in his childhood that has made him a bit “jaded” towards words of affirmation! We need to work on this, but then, I think God is at work there!!!
Anyway, last week Bill said he wondered if I “really” loved him! WOW! I know I speak his language often, and I even use my language of words of affirmation to let him know. So I have learned, he not only does not speak that language, he does not seem to hear it either! But being a woman, I figured out he ALSO needs to see my “acts of service.” So while I am constantly telling him I love him, I am also looking for ways to show him my “acts of service.”
It seems when I do shine the best to “serve” him was the one time he was seriously burned in an accident at work or when he was deathly ill. OK, so that was only three times in 36 years, and granted, he was so injured or sick, as well as being on a lot of drugs, he seemed to forget some of the details! However, he did know I was at his side, praying and seeking ways to make him more comfortable. So how could he feel I don’t love him? PLUS, I SAY it all the time!!! I keep forgetting, he does not translate my language into his own language. However, he says he shows me his love in HIGH VOLUME! Ok, I hear you loud and clear! I KNOW he loves me unconditionally and with every breath he breathes….
So the other day when we were having this serious issue, I asked Bill if he remembered what my language of love was…and he said no! WHAT??? He never did like my language as he did not speak it nor understand it! We do have a joke (a bad joke, BTW) from our early married days: he told me when we married he loved me and if it changes, he will let me know! I sort of laughed at it, then one night last week, I lost it….”he doesn’t really love me” I declared to myself.
But how could I feel that way as he serves me and serves some more! He is our chief cook (and I am the bottle washer); he does all the heavy lifting around the house. He maintains the house! He washes and waxes my car regularly….how else can he show me his love? He thinks he does it all! And YES, he does it all….but still, I still just need a few words of affirmation.
So last week, we had a period where we did not talk for nearly 24 hours! We did learn soon after our re-marriage, “Be angry, and yet do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger…” (Ephesians 4:26). We made a pact, we would never again go to bed angry, we would resolve our issues…..I guess that worked better when we were younger! It is harder to stay awake to clear the air at our age, so we violated this important scripture! Oh, and did I pay for it and will pay for it.
I had an early class to attend the next morning. My first time out the door before 8:00 am. So I was not used to driving while children are going to school. I just breezed by the school (not seeing the signage), speeding just a little bit as I was running late….opps, you don’t do that in our town. I got caught! OUCH! A little bit might as well be a LOT!
Anyway, when I got home later that day, Bill said we had to clear the air. We tried but did not make much progress. Seemed we had something that kept us from resolving things. I finally said, I guess we need to make an appointment to finish clearing the air. So the appointed time came, but so did more interference.
I just prayed and prayed for God to give us a time of undivided attention and for me to find the RIGHT time to really talk. Finally, on Saturday, we had six hours to really TALK it through. We drove in our car to Ft. Lauderdale (three-hour trip one way), instead of the usual motorcycle ride, our traditional Saturday fun day.
Ah, how refreshing our conversation was! I gained new insight, well, I knew it, but he painted me a new picture. You see, he is a mellow man, he likes things steady, no high emotions, no low emotions, just steady as you go. And I do love this about him. It was one thing that attracted me to him.
Me on the other hand, remember, opposites? I have high highs and I have low lows. I love life and am passionate about everything I do! I am usually high, but last week, was very low….but now I am trying to mellow out….
We returned from our day trip and ended the evening at Wings of Faith Worship Center! We attended a praise, worship and prayer vigil for our county, praying with believers from numerous denominations and backgrounds, all uniting to pray for the families, churches, schools, businesses and government! What a way to end the day…and week!
Are you wondering what our “issue” was? On Monday, I had a “coaching” session with a very dear friend. She is coaching me as I go through the “Identity and Destiny” course, Seven Steps to a Purpose Filled Life. I was so excited about a huge break through for me! I couldn’t wait to share it with Bill – but my coach encouraged me to wait for the right time to share it. So I waited for nearly 24 hours and then couldn’t wait another minute. I decided to tell him while eating lunch, not realizing he was anxious to get back to finishing a job (he was working on the brakes on my car). Needless to say, he just did not receive it very well….and that set off a chain reaction. I guess I really needed to blog about my breakthrough and not “bother” him! Maybe next blog will be about my break through! (UPDATE: I never did write that blog so now it is lost and so is my break through. BUT I have a new appreciation for Bill.)
We are looking forward to our 37th wedding anniversary this April (even if on and off since we did divorce for nearly a year)! But through God’s miraculous healing power, our marriage was restored and came back stronger than ever. Like a good pruning to a bush, our relationship “filled out” better than ever!
So here is a quick refresher course on the 5 Languages of Love (in quote marks from the website). And while we are at it, since God is the author of Love and is indeed Love itself (“God is love” according to 1 John 4:8), perhaps we should think about those five languages and apply them to God, to show HIM how much we love HIM, and then maybe our love will become more apparent to each other, so let’s not only look at how these apply to our spouse, but to our Lord:
“Words of Affirmation ” (Let every thing that has breath praise the LORD. Praise you the LORD. Psalm 150:6) We go to church and verbalize our love of our Lord by singing praises to Him, by reading His Word back to Him! Words are so important!
“Actions don’t always speak louder than words. If this is your love language, unsolicited compliments mean the world to you. Hearing the words, “I love you,” are important—hearing the reasons behind that love sends your spirits skyward.”
- “Quality Time” (Matthew 4:4, “It is written: ‘Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’) God wants time with us, in His Word, not just in church.
“In the vernacular of Quality Time, nothing says, “I love you,” like full, undivided attention. Being there for this type of person is critical, but really being there—with the TV off, fork and knife down, and all chores and tasks on standby—makes your significant other feel truly special and loved. Distractions, postponed dates, or the failure to listen can be especially hurtful.”
- “Receiving Gifts” (2 Corinthians 9:7 Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.) We do return to God every week a portion of what He has given us.
“Don’t mistake this love language for materialism; the receiver of gifts thrives on the love, thoughtfulness, and effort behind the gift. If you speak this language, the perfect gift or gesture shows that you are known, you are cared for, and you are prized above whatever was sacrificed to bring the gift to you. A missed birthday, anniversary, or a hasty, thoughtless gift would be disastrous—so would the absence of everyday gestures.”
- “Acts of Service” (James 1:27 Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.) God wants us to show HIS love to others through our actions.
“Can vacuuming the floors really be an expression of love? Absolutely! Anything you do to ease the burden of responsibilities weighing on an ‘Acts of Service’ person will speak volumes. The words he or she most want to hear: ‘Let me do that for you.’ Laziness, broken commitments, and making more work for them tell speakers of this language their feelings don’t matter.
- “Physical Touch” (Romans 16:16 Greet one another with a holy kiss. )
“This language isn’t all about the bedroom. A person whose primary language is Physical Touch is, not surprisingly, very touchy. Hugs, pats on the back, holding hands, and thoughtful touches on the arm, shoulder, or face—they can all be ways to show excitement, concern, care, and love. Physical presence and accessibility are crucial, while neglect or abuse can be unforgivable and destructive.”
The GOOD NEWS! We got over it and are back to ourselves, a bit closer to each other after “clearing the air” and learning more about each other and our needs!
For this, we give God the Glory!
“You, Lord, are forgiving and good, abounding in love to all who call to you.” Psalm 86:5