23 September 2014

Blog#6 | Learning A Foreign Language

This blog was written using the prompt: "Give something to someone to meet his or her need (e.g., your time, your talent, money, et cetera...)." I chose this prompt because it just happened out of the blue; I wasn't even thinking of the blog posts. I chose a DROP-IN ESSAY format for this blog prompt, because so far, all my posts have been narrative in form; I'm trying something different. Since this is a Drop-In Essay, I don't share my revelation until the very end. The truth I learned is that showing love means going out of your way to give the things you need to the people you love without them asking for it.

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During our engagement, my wife Ashley and I learned all about the 5 Love Languages in premarital counseling. In a nutshell, every person on the planet feels he or she is actively being loved by receiving one or more of the following Love Languages: words of affirmation (compliments and praise); acts of service (doing things for your partner); receiving gifts (uh...you give the other person a gift...); quality time (simply being with and focused on your partner); physical touch (hugs, cuddles, and smooches).

As it just so happens, Ashley's  most fluent Love Language is acts of service.

Incidentally, this is not my native Love Language.

Ashley loves a clean house and an empty sink. I, on the other hand, feel there is more to life than clean dishes and vacuumed floors. I could have a mountain of pots and pans festering in the sink, dirty, smelly clothes wrinkling on the floor, small rodents zipping in and out of the mess, picking turf wars with cockroaches, and gaggles of traveling gypsies overflowing from our kitchen and the whole cacophonous mess wouldn't bother me one iota. I could carry on a conversation, watch a movie, host a party, and dance in the kitchen and not give it a second thought.
Photo Courtesy yepwecan.com
This is an exaggeration of the mess I can stand, but only a little one.
Boy, you are probably thinking, this sounds like a recipe for disaster! How often are you sleeping on the couch, Tobey?

As you can imagine, Ashley often asks me to help around the house. She's not shrewish or demanding; she's making reasonable, necessary requests. As you can also imagine, this is often the source of "discussions" when things come to a head. And, since I'm a complete tool, I often resent being asked to speak a Love Language that is completely foreign to me.

Just last weekend, our latest "discussion" finally yielded an answer: when Ashley has to ask me for an act of service, I'm not speaking her Love Language; I'm turing a conversation into a lecture, which neither party enjoys.

What a dolt am I.

I couldn't figure out why Ashley wasn't happy and overwhelmed with feelings of love after I did the dishes.

Granted, she had to ask me five times, I grumbled about it constantly, and did a pretty crappy job, but I did it, dadgummit!

Since then, I've been looking for opportunities to perform acts of services for Ashley. When I see dishes in the sink, I do them before she gets home from school. I vacuum the day before we have company, before she has a chance to ask me.

And I am here to tell you: she's noticed.

She is happy. She is overwhelmed with feelings of the love I have for her.

I am speaking her love language fluently for the first time.

The added bonus is that I now enjoy these tasks I once felt tedious and mundane. I'm not doing dishes because I want the sink empty; I'm doing them because I love my wife. I'm not vacuuming because I enjoy the vacuum patterns in the carpet; I do it because it makes Ashley happy. 

Noticing and speaking her Love Language improved our relationship and changed my attitude. I wasn't focused on me; I was focused on her.

Imagine what could happen if everyone made an effort to speak others' Love Languages? 
Photo Courtesy StuffPoint.com
Too "Miss America"?

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