Does this situation sound familiar?
Husband walks in the door, wife is instantly annoyed because husband is late from work and has thrown his socks on the floor tired from his long day. Wife says “Thanks a lot. Now I have to pick those up AGAIN,” under her breath. Husband becomes annoyed because the last thing he wants is to be nagged straight when he gets home and counters with “Seriously? This again?”
All of this could be prevented and especially before it gets worse. If husband knows socks on the floor are a hot topic, why are they on the floor? The kind act would be to place them where they don’t then have to be picked up. When wife made the snide remarks about his socks, it instantly made husband feel defensive escalating the conversation.
Here’s another situation. Husband walks in the door and places socks in the hamper knowing wife likes that. Wife says “Thanks for keeping those picked up. That means a lot to me,” adding positive reinforcement to his kid act. Husband gives wife a huge kiss and kids shout “gross!” from across the room. Beautiful, right?
Both set off by each choosing one small change.
Reading The 5 Love Languages, by Gary D. Chapman, recommended to me by a good friend (Thanks Dawn!), has completely changed my perspective on my past marriage and all relationships (including my kids, close friends, and family).
It states that there are 5 love languages which are “spoken”. Many people have more than one.
1. Words of Affirmation: Expressing affection through spoken affection, praise, or appreciation.
2. Acts of Service: Actions, rather than words, are used to show and receive love.
3. Receiving Gifts: Gifting is symbolic of love and affection.
4. Quality Time: Expressing affection with undivided, undistracted attention.
5. Physical Touch – Cuddling, kissing, holding hands…you get the idea.
My ex and I had very different love languages.
While he would buy me an expensive, extravagant gift, I would start to panic about money and how we’d afford it. If there’s anyone on the entire planet I could buy something for, I’d be the last one. At the time, I had no idea I was crushing his spirit and rejecting his idea of showing love. I was only trying to be honest, and I watched the money and budget after all.
While I was writing him notes (some funny, some lovey) to put in his lunch box I packed every day, I didn’t receive one. It just wasn’t his thing and I see that now. However, at the time, I saw it as him shunning and ignoring what I was offering. I later found out he saved every single one and loved them very much.
While I was hung on all day by needy, young children, I just wanted some piece and quiet and space at night. Meanwhile he was fresh out of work and wanted to cuddle and talk since he’d been lacking it all day. I see this with a lot of stay at home parents I know.
The following ideas are easy to alter or implement into your day. Starting small with one thing and slowly adding more is an easy, gradual adjustment for someone to make and a meaningful one to their partner.
If your partner needs words of affirmation? How about surprise notes, cards, or comments about what you appreciate they do for you or the family. “Thanks for ironing my shirts. That saved me time and they look really nice.” This goes a long way.
Acts of service? If you see your partner is tired and they usually take out the trash, maybe helping do that job that week (without expecting praise) will be appreciated. Or surprising the other parent by grabbing the kids and cleaning up the whole kitchen after dinner. Running an errand for them since you’re already out is another good one. Also, just listening to things your partner likes around the house like in our situation above when husband put his socks in the hamper.
Receiving gifts? This doesn’t need to be expensive. Maybe you want to just surprise him/her with a single flower or their favorite candy bar. Maybe you were at Meijer and remembered your partner needed something. (This could also count as an act of service since they now don’t need to run that errand.)
Quality time? Going for walks, to the movies, catching a quiet dinner just the two of you (even in your own kitchen after the kids go to bed), or maybe doing a home project together.
Physical touch? I’m not going to go too deeply into this one since you can use your imagination for most of it, but a back or foot rub after a long day is a big one that gets overlooked. Holding hands more and making sure to get small kisses in more often. It’s too easy to let each day go by and not set time aside for the small things in this one because of work, kids, and housework and remember… “Hugs… release oxytocin, the bonding hormone that appears to build trust, reduces fear, and increase compassion and generosity.” Sounds good to me!
It’s so important to watch and listen to each other. You are partners for a reason. Take care of each other. Once resentment that someone feels taken for granted, rejected, unwanted, unappreciated, or unloved sets in, it’s hard to come back from that. Don’t wait for your loved one to say there’s a problem.
Do something now. Right now.
What’s your love language and do you know your partners?