When we were engaged and preparing for our marriage, the pastor that married us asked us to read His Needs, Her Needs by Harley and The 5 Love Languages by Chapman. They were AWESOME. The gist of both books is that each person has specific needs for love, intimacy and security and your job as spouse is to learn to speak their language to meet their needs. If your spouse is focused on your needs and you on his, then everyone's needs get met and life is grande. Wins for everyone. We both figured out our love languages and felt ready to forever speak them fluently to each other.
We got married, had a rough go of learning to live together, accidentally got pregnant, JD embarked on a new career, I ended mine, had a baby and JD left for 5.5 months for work training. Somewhere in there, we forgot how to speak each other's language. I don't think it was a defining moment that it happened or a single incident that caused it, but a slow progression of not cultivating the soft fuzzies of romantic love.
I am guilty of sizing us up to every couple we know. So and so eats dinner every night in the dining room staring into each others eyes. So and so has date night every weekend. So and so holds hands at church. And on and on. I don't mean to, but I am always comparing other marriages to my own. If I learn that my brother and sister in law cuddle a different way than we do, I automatically start wondering if we are as affectionate as we should be. It's stupid, I'll admit it. But once I start comparing, I start to get unhappy. When I see things that I wish were in our marriage in someone else's, I try to force it into ours. This causes a bit of friction.
While JD was gone, I was nothing but a mommy. No one held me. No one made me feel pretty. No one waited for me to come to bed. I was alone and I hated it. I needed my man. During that time I thought a lot about what I needed in my marriage to feel loved. Nothing too high maintenance, mostly the things listed above. I couldn't wait for JD to return so I could feel like a wife again and not just a mommy.
He returned and things fell into place as if he were never gone. We were the same. Not my new and improved dreamed-up version of us. Just regular old us and I didn't like it. I wanted the romance and newness of when we first fell in love to return. I wanted him to want to talk for hours about nothing. I wanted butterflies. I prayed that God would change him into a man that showed me love in a way that I needed it.
After some hurt feelings and pouting on my part, we finally talked and realized that we don't speak each other's love language anymore. And instead of learning, we had been screaming our own at the other person at the tops of our lungs in hopes that if we just said/did it loud enough, the other person would pick up on our signals and love us in the way that we needed to feel loved. Holy long sentence, Batman. Obviously it didn't work because I wasn't feeling the love.
So last week we talked. We rediscovered each other's love language. I'm physical touch and words of affirmation. I need to hear the I love yous with a little cuddling thrown in on the side. And we are actually incorporating it into our relationship. It's kind of awesome. I have butterflies again.
I don't think we ever lost any love for the other person, we just stopped speaking our love languages. Do we love each other? Gosh yes. Is marriage hard? Absolutely. Is it the most incredible relationship in life? Aside from the one I have with Jesus, yes it is. I love this man and I want to work everyday at showing him in a way that he feels it. I have learned that marriage needs constant maintenance to keep it strong and fulfilling for both parties. My prayer has now changed. I now pray that God shows me when JD is loving me in ways that don't automatically translate into love behavior. I think it's working.