When my husband and I first got married almost 7 years ago, I naively believed that I truly knew everything about him. I mean don’t get me wrong, we had dated for 3 years, doing long distance dating for 2 of them, went through a really great season of premarital counseling and were genuinely, head over heels in love with one another. What else was there to figure out.
About 6 months into our marriage, we had our first BIG fight. On his birthday. That poor man. We were driving 25 miles an hour down a rural Nebraska highway in the middle of a snowstorm and we had no other choice but to talk about my problems with him. But as he listened to me yack my head off for about an hour, he had a chance to talk. And he had problems with me, too. Both of us had come to the realization that the “honeymoon” stage of our marriage was over and real life husband and wife issues were setting in. Has anyone else ever gone through this? Realizing that you don’t have the perfect marriage you thought you were going to have on your wedding day?
Oh good, me too.
One of the most beneficial things that my husband and I did during our premarital counseling was take The 5 Love Languages Test based off of the book by Gary Chapman. The book really challenges you and your spouse to identify how you best show your love to others and receive love in 5 different ways: words of affirmation, acts of service, receiving gifts, physical touch and quality time. When my husband and I initially took the tests, it came up that my top two love languages were receiving gifts and physical touch, his were quality time and physical touch. Perfect – we were 1 for 2. Not bad.
Now just because we had this knowledge didn’t mean that we acted on it appropriately. I will say, both of us having physically saved ourselves for marriage made meeting one another’s physical needs pretty easy. We both are PDA people; we love to hold hands, kiss, put our arms around each other… that stuff doesn’t bother us in public or in private. But if you know my husband, he is not the gift giving type. And if you know me, you know I love gifts (especially the homemade ones) and my husband is not the most “cut-paste-and-glitter-crafty” of sorts. And after we got married, he never came home with a special something he had bought or made just for me. I would write him special cards, surprise him with new clothes and make him his favorite meals when he would come home from work. Why didn’t he want to do the same for me?
“He must not really love me enough to take the time to get me anything,” I would say. “Now that we are married I guess he just isn’t going to try anymore. All he wants to do is go on walks with me, take me to the driving range and watch Game Day and Husker games in our pajamas all day every Saturday.”
Did you see that there? He wanted to do all of those things with me. He just wanted to just spend time with me. But unfortunately, he had to be the one to initiate it, not me; he was giving me what he wanted. And remember how I kept giving him gifts and surprises? I was trying to push on him what I so desperately wanted him to give to me, through the thoughtfulness of gifts. The problem in both of our selfishness was that we were trying to give the other what we wanted them to give us; like some sort of cruel teast. When instead of hinting around and almost playing hard to get, we should have just sat down and talked about it. But talking about how your spouse isn’t meeting your needs is hard, isn’t it?
I would guess that many of you reading this are jumping up and down and saying, “Oh my gosh Lauren, YES! That’s me and my man, too! But what do I do about it?” Great question. I don’t have the perfect answer, but I have a great place to start. I would highly encourage you to sit down with your husband and have a discussion. I would suggest not starting off with, “You’re not meeting my needs!” but you can ask if you are meeting his. Ask him if he feels loved and appreciated by you. If the answer is no, it would be a great way to bring up how each of you feels most loved by each other. If you want to take it a step further (and I highly encourage this), both of you take The 5 Love Languages Test and figure out where you both stand. Go over your results together and really focus on how you can start loving each other in new ways. You just might find some fun things out about each other that you never knew! If the answer is yes, just open up your heart and lovingly explain where your heart is at. It may come as a surprise to him, he may even be upset, but being honest is always the best place to begin. And of course, as with anything in our marriages, pray about it. Pray alone, pray together, just pray hard. And listen. God longs to hear the desires of our hearts and loves to see our marriages flourish and deepen for His glory. He is just an awesome God like that. He has the power to resurrect our marriages through loving our husbands with the love of Christ. And figuring out how they perceive love is a great place to start.
One last thing… After having kids and becoming a SAHM, my love languages changed! My first was still physical touch, but a close second became words of affirmation. Be sure the longer you are married and as life events come and go that you take the time to re-evaluate each of your hearts and see where God is leading both of you in your marriage.