“You just don’t get it, babe.” I said. “I’m exhausted and I just feel like we are roommates.”
Many years ago, when my husband and I had only been married for about five years, we went through a rough patch.
We couldn’t figure out why we were hardly connecting. We were stationed remotely, about an hour away from the nearest Air Force base and it was really difficult to keep it all together without community. He was on recruiter duty and I was in throes of stay-at-home motherhood with three small children. Because he was working for 12-hour shifts, sometimes 6 days a week, we barely spoke. He would come home totally exhausted and needing to decompress. I, on the other hand, would have also been pushed to the brink of my capacity because of the tiny humans that demanded every ounce of my attention.
During this time, I was also struggling with a crippling case of post-partum depression. All I wanted was to feel seen and loved.
Every day, I would get up early and scrub the entire house. I would plan on making dinner and having it ready by the time he walked in the door. I couldn’t wait for him to get home so that we could relax together. I cooked, cleaned, and did everything I could to show him that I loved him and appreciated all of his hard work to provide for us. When he would get home, he would walk in the door, give me a hug, say “I love you,” then head to his favorite spot in the house…the recliner.
I was furious. I would find myself disappointed in his response to all of my hard work. Here I was, working myself to the bone just to be met with a metaphorical head pat and a “Good job, babe.”
After one of these normal episodes, I called a friend of mine to do what we normally do when we are angry with our husbands…complain. She was older than me, and had been married for quite a bit longer. She stopped me immediately and did the most loving thing I could imagine. She reminded me that I loved my husband and that she thought that our “love languages” had been lost in translation.
“What’s a love language?” I asked. She gave me a copy of Dr. Gary Chapman’s “The 5 Love Languages” book, urged me to read through it, and told me to call her afterward.
Dr. Gary Chapman is a marriage counselor and a director of marriage seminars. In his research, he discovered that there are five primary ways that people give and receive love. The five “languages” are:
- Words of Affirmation
- Quality Time
- Acts of Service
- Physical Touch.
In the book, he says “Your emotional love language and the language of your spouse may be as different as Chinese from English.”
He couldn’t have been more right about us. After reading the book, and taking the Love Language Quiz, I discovered that Keith and I were speaking different languages.
Dr. Chapman shares how most people speak their own primary love languages, as was the case for us. I am an “acts of service” and “quality time” girl. Keith speaks through “physical touch” and “words of affirmation.” While I was performing household chores to communicate love, he was greeting me and affirming his love vocally.
When we are feeling uncared for, or unseen, maybe it’s because the love our spouse is trying to communicate is lost in translation.
Since we have discovered each other’s primary “love language,” we have been able to be intentional and foster a deeper sense of intimacy through lovingly caring for one another. He makes the space for us to have quality time, while also making an effort to serve. I am more vocal towards him, making sure to thank him and show him appreciation through word of affirmation. I also try to be more affectionate, which is sometimes difficult. I am NOT a hugger.
If you find yourself feeling disconnected, find out how to feel what your spouse is trying to show you by learning your own love language and how to speak in theirs.
Here are few tips:
Read “The Five Love Languages” by Gary Chapman.
This book has not only made a significant impact in my own marriage, but also in how other relationships flourish. The relationships with our children, extended family, and friendships have been made deeper and more loving.
Take the test.
Find out your primary love language and have your spouse identify theirs. This will help you learn to “speak” love to your spouse with fluency.
Talk about it.
Ask your spouse how and when they feel most loved. Do they feel loved when gifts are given or when you are sharing in uninterrupted time? Have the conversation and marry your intention with action.
After reading Dr. Chapman’s book, I called my friend and thanked her for her wisdom. She helped break down a wall that my husband and I were unintentionally building. Through her sound advice, we were able to come together and solve the problem of our own disconnection. If you are in a season where you are feeling unnoticed, I would love to be that friend for you. I hope this resource will help and that you can begin to flourish in love.
Megan Brown is a seasoned military spouse, Bible teacher, and military missionary. She is the Communications Coach for IF: Military, a new military initiative launched by IF: Gathering, representing the US Air Force. Megan is passionate about encouraging women through intimate home Bible studies and teaching biblical literacy. She is a student at Moody Bible Institute, studying Ministry Leadership with a focus in Theology and Women’s Ministry. Learn more, or connect with Megan at www.meganbbrown.com.