Am I nuts, or is it him? I used to ask this question a lot. If any of you know my husband, you'll know that we are... pretty much exact opposites. Where I tend to err on the side of not knowing when to shut up, Jon barely says a word in public. (I even had a friend ask me when we started dating if he was mean to me. She figured that since he didn't talk to everyone and isn't really expressive, good or bad, that he must be grouchy and mean. Just so you know, he doesn't know HOW to be mean. Honestly.) He's definitey not speechless at home, but that's only with a few that he shows his more talkative side.
When we first got married, although we had talked about marriage and families and goals and such before we ever got married, (just ask the pastor who did our premarital counseling) I still was very frustrated that our communcation wasn't working as well as I'd have liked it to. He was... not like me. I mean, I'm expressive. I'm that crazy person you see in a crowd of people from a distance who is acting out the scene and waving her arms all over the place. My husband may not even be with the crowd. I'm a hugger. Or a toucher. If I'm talking to you, I may put my hand on your arm (to make sure you don't get away) or playfully punch your arm. Yes, I know for you non physical people, this is annoying. I'm working on it. Jonny is not like that at all. Hugging is REALLY stretching his comfort zone and he doesn't even think about holding my hand or putting an arm around me when we're in public. I mean, he does it... now. But he has to make a conscious effort to do so. I LOVE to hang out with him. Watch a movie, take a walk, sit and talk, go to dinner, etc... He is cool with all of those things too, but he doesn't NEED to hang out with others. He's fine if he has time by himself. Jon could easily go to a movie, dinner and/or play a game of hoops all by himself and have no issues with it.
When we got married, I wondered what was wrong with him. Should I fix him? (My mom called it "missionary dating" in high school.) I mean, he can't really be happy like that, right? I knew he loved me, but after a while, especially when he'd be playing basketball for hours every night or those video games or whatever... I got really irritated. And, like a genius, instead of sitting down and telling him, I decided I'd play a little game. (One that I WOULD NOT RECOMMEND and that I'm not proud of.) I decided I'd wait until he hugged me or kissed me or whatever first. I would not innitiate. Darn it. That sucked. Stupid idea. It was a day and a half later that he finally kissed me. I was irate. I didn't even want to kiss him. Didn't he understand? Why didn't he love me back? We had big blowout. Actually, I had a big blowout. Jon doesn't really get angry, and I'm not really sure he knows how to yell at another person. Not to mention, he was clueless as to what I was blubbering about, and he looked super confused.
We got over it, but, a few years later, we were encouraged to read a relationship book in our small group. It's called The Five Love Languages. To be honest, we only sort of read it. Then, about a year later, we were encouraged to read it again by our business team. Yes, a business team. At that point, we were ready to read it and actually apply it. Funny thing is, it's not only about husband and wife relationships, but in EVERY relationship. ONE of the reasons it was highly recommended by people in business.
As a general overview, the book talks about how people perceive "being loved" in very different ways (or languages.) Some people love being told that they do a great job. (Words of Affirmation) They love people verbally applauding them. Some people love getting gifts, even if they're just cards or something small. (Gifts) This is a sign of love to them. Others are touchy people. (Physical Touch) Their physicality is an expression of caring. Some people are all about spending time with people. (Quality Time) They would rather spend time than money on someone they care about. And there are still some people who love to DO things for others. (Acts of Service) They would go out of their way to do something for someone else without any kind of reciprocation.
Holy cow. After reading this book we knew what the issues in our marital communication were. We weren't even speaking the same darn language!!! You may have guessed that I'm a Physical Touch/Quality Time love language combo. Hanging out and holding hands makes me feel loved. But... Jon is not. Not that he doesn't enjoy it, but it doesn't come naturally to him. He has to THINK about it. Make a conscious effort. Jon is interesting, because his showing and receiving love is different. He shows love by Acts of Service. If I go somewhere, I'll come home and he'll have cleaned the house, done the laundry, mowed the lawn and made dinner. Just so I don't have to. He's pretty smooth like that. And the funny thing is, this is how he shows me he loves me. He'd be willing to do these things without me asking or just because he loves me. He doesn't expect or receive love in return this same way though. He loves Words of Affirmation. The Thank Yous and Great Jobs and other encouraging words. (Although we all love kudos now and then, this motivates him and makes him feel loved more than other things.) And I never knew it. I never realized that this was his language. When I get mad or emotional and say hurtful things, this REALLY hurts him. When I praise him or thank him, this REALLY makes him feel loved! So, he's not crazy and neither am I. We just speak different languages when it comes to loving someone.
I've also begun to notice some other things. My mom is a lot like me. My dad is... you guessed it, a lot like Jonny. Weird, huh? Now I understand them a bit better, too! And then we had Avery. Holy cow. If I hadn't read that book... She is a Words of Affirmation girl. If I correct her in front of people, and even sometimes in private, she may start to bawl. She hates feeling like she did something wrong. She lives on praises. Just the other night she was putting together puzzles all by herself and asked (after almost every piece) if I was proud of her. If I hadn't read this book, I'd probably have crushed her little spirit (and probably that of my husband) a long time ago. That really stinks. It's a bit early to figure Sam out, but I'd think he's a bit Physical Touch. He'd have me hold him all day long if he could have his way. We make sure to have snuggle time at least once a day...
There is so much more to this book. It has helped me in just about every relationship imaginable. Please, I emplore you. For your sanity, for your friendships, marriages, kids, and any other relationships, READ THE FIVE LOVE LANGUAGES!!! Yes, I do realize that this is pretty much a big book promo,but it will make a world of difference. I am forever thankful that I did. Now I know I'm not crazy, and I know how to not drive other people crazy either. I'm still a work in progress, but it's a start! :)