Conan and I recently took the 5 Love Languages test for the first time. My top love languages are acts of service and words of affirmation. Conan’s are words of affirmation and quality time.
Here’s the rundown:
Me: Acts of Service: 11
Words of Affirmation: 7
Quality Time: 6
Physical Touch: 6
Guess what got a big, fat ZERO? Receiving gifts. I know what you’re thinking, “What kind of woman are you, anyway??” And Conan’s wallet just heaved a huge sigh of relief, ha ha!
Conan: Words of Affirmation: 9
Quality Time: 9
Physical Touch: 6
Acts of Service: 6
Receiving Gifts: Another ZERO!!! (I’m the one breathing a huge sigh of relief, here, I suck at gift giving.)
So now we know what each other’s language is. However, how he interprets that language is not the same as I interpret the language.
Take acts of service, for example: If I make him a pot of coffee in the morning and pour him a cup, or dish his dinner plate and set it down in front of him, or go get him a Pepsi while he’s on the couch watching the game and hand it to him with a little kiss, or take his shoes off for him at the end of the day, he feels loved and all the warm fuzzies come out. Piece of cake, right! It is so easy to please that man!
Do I want him to do that for me? NO. I can get my own dinner and my own drinks. What initially seems to be the same thing turns out to be glaringly different. Here are what my acts of service look like:
Notice that the trash is full and take it out before I ask. That has happened a few times and I thought I’d died and gone to heaven. If you don’t notice that the trash is full and I ask you to take it out, please take it out. I asked because it’s full and I’m cooking dinner or something and I need the trash emptied so I can continue doing what I was doing. I don’t need the trash taken out in half an hour. I need it taken out now, because it’s full now. Don’t say, “Somebody needs to take her pill” when I get irritated that the trash is still full 15 minutes later after I already asked you for your help. (I think this is the biggest one, because when I specifically ask for help it sure does make me feel unappreciated and unloved when that request is ignored or brushed off.)
Help me with dinner. Better yet, help me with the clean up of cooking dinner! (Conan is wonderful at grating cheese and peeling potatoes, some of my most hated cooking tasks. A+++ for that!)
Notice that there are things on the stairs and pick one or two of them up when you go upstairs. Don’t tell me that there are things on the stairs. I already know that, because I probably put them there.
Pick up after yourself when you make a sandwich. Don’t leave the bread and mayo out for me to put away. Throw things into the trash. Don’t leave them on the counter 15 inches from the trash can for me to put in the trash (this has actually become something of a joke, and Conan will deliberately leave trash right next to the trash can for me to see. When I know he’s teasing me, we can laugh about it!). Don’t leave your dishes everywhere for me to pick up and then say, well, you left your dish over there. I know I did, and guess who gets to pick it up? Me. I don’t expect anyone else to do it for me.
If something is on the floor, please don’t push it out of the way with your foot. Please bend down to pick it up.
See! I told you I was much harder to live with! I have a long list and Conan has three or four things.
So acts of service for me means don’t make more work for me and help lighten my load a little bit. For Conan it means show him I’m thinking about him and his wants and needs.
Words of affirmation for me are about appreciation and praise. I can remember exactly when Conan started doing that for me. He has a few friends whose relationships are highly dysfunctional and whose wives and/or girlfriends are cRaZy, to say the least. And these guys spill their guts out to Conan all about it and tell him they wish they had what we have. I remember the first time Conan came to me and said, “Doll, you really are a great wife and I am very lucky to have you.” I just about melted into the floor. And he has continued to praise me in that way, especially after having long talks with his buddies about their crazy, mixed up relationships. I get little warm fuzzies when I think about it. The other words of affirmation I like are about my appearance. I know, call me vain, call me shallow, but it warms my little heart when Conan tells me I’m beautiful. When I come down the stairs after getting ready to go somewhere and Conan looks up at me and his eyes light up and he says, “Wow, Doll,” that is like gold to me. I also like it when he gives me a little pat and says “Good girl” when I’ve done something good. Don’t tease me about that. I don’t know why I like that, I just do.
For Conan, words of affirmation are all about respect and admiration. I took Dr. Laura’s advice and began calling him my Knight in Shining Armor and thanking him for going out and slaying dragons all day for me. I try to show him and tell him that I respect and admire him. It was a little awkward the first time I told him I respected him as a man. That’s just not something that rolls off the tongue the way “I love you, honey” does, but I really think it means something special to him. Words of Affirmation came out on top for him. I’m really going to have to step it up in that area.
Quality time and physical touch tied for third place for me. Quality time tied at number one for Conan. Quality time means pretty much the same things to us both–doing things together. Our likes and dislikes are so different, however, that that is sometimes difficult to do. If I want to make Conan happy, I can be his biker babe, get on the back of his Harley and ride somewhere with him. Conan loves his Harley. The problem is, I don’t like being on the Harley. But when I do ride with him somewhere, I bank MEGA points. If Conan wants to make me happy, he’ll take me to a book store and listen to me squeal over all the books. I love books. I love to touch them, smell them, look at the cover art, read the back, read the inside cover, turn the pages–well, you get the idea, and then, of course, GET the book(s) and READ it. Conan does not like to read much. But when he goes with me to Barnes and Noble, he is the one banking points. And if he lets me read him the good parts, he’s ten feet tall in my eyes. There is one thing we like to do together, and that is to go places together. We spend a lot of time dreaming about where we’ll go when the kids are up and out.
I have been thinking about physical touch quite a bit since Conan and I started having daily sex (well, near daily). Even though it tied for third place for both of us, it still means a lot to us. But it means something different to each of us. For him it’s mostly sexual. Our daily sex is giving us physical touch in large doses, and it’s wonderful. However, that’s not the kind of physical touch that melts my heart. Having daily sex has made me want to touch Conan more, in non-sexual ways. I am a very touchy-feely person. I like to touch people. And with Conan I want to hug, kiss, hold hands, snuggle, stroke his arm, massage his back, drop kisses where ever they land, and hug some more. And I KNOW that I love, love, LOVE to have those things done back to me. Lots of stroking my hair, my face, his arm around me, holding me on his lap. And paradoxically, the more sex we have, the more I want that other physical touch. I haven’t figured out why, yet. I think it’s because the more sex we have, the more love I feel for him. And the more love I feel, the more I want to touch and be touched.
I know that showing love for each other is supremely important. And we want our spouse to show their love in our language, not their language, I believe. That’s not as easy as it sounds. It’s much easier to show love in our own language than someone else’s language. I’ve never read the book The Five Love Languages, but I would venture to guess it talks about this in it. Another thing I learned from Dr. Laura is to recognize and take love where it is, not be looking for it however we might want it. It’s great if Conan shows me he loves me in my love language, but I have learned to recognize the little ways he shows me that are in his language. And I’ve learned to accept them and appreciate them. (And now I’ve used the word “language” quite enough.)
Anyway, if you are sitting around waiting for your spouse to show love only the way you want it shown, you’re going to be pretty disappointed most of the time. None of us are that perfect! You have to learn to recognize when your spouse is showing love.
When we learned to show love for each other better, and to accept acts of love from each other, that was one more piece of the intricate puzzle of our marriage that brought about a better sex life. I’ve said it before, and I still don’t know which came first–a better, more loving relationship or better sex. But I do know one thing. Even if better sex did come first, if the better, more loving relationship had not followed, the sex wouldn’t have continued in quantity and quality. And if the great sex hadn’t continued, I don’t think we’d be able to continue with a mutually loving relationship.