In my last blog post I shared about my grandfather's recent passing and the way in which he inspired me to "get up and go back in" when it came to sharing my faith with others.
His memorial service was a touching experience. We watched as the Marine Honor Guard presented a flag to my grandmother; we cried, smiled and laughed as photos of him flashed on a screen in front of us, and we beamed with pride as the pastor described my grandfather as being a true man of God. It was a beautiful day.
That evening my grandmother called me into the hallway near the bedroom of her home. For several moments, we stood embraced in each other's arms as we cried and talked about my grandfather. Many things were said, but something that has stayed with me since leaving her that night was when she said, "I knew he loved me every day of my life. And that's what makes it so hard."
Now, I've been known to be somewhat of a romantic, and for those who know me, it is known that "words of affirmation" is my primary love language (by the way, if you haven't read "The 5 Love Languages," by Gary Chapman, please read it - it's amazing), so hearing my grandmother say this spoke so loudly to me. My grandfather was not a soft, squishy "grandpa" type, but when he and I went on dinner dates together, he would speak so highly of my grandmother and I could see how much he valued her. And anyone who spent any length of time with them could always catch a glimpse of Grandad giving Grandma a little pat on the tush every now and then, too. Bottom line, we knew he loved her every day of her life, as well.
My grandmother knew, with confidence, that my grandfather loved her every day of her life.
I got to thinking: could my husband say that about me? Could my husband confidently say, "I knew she loved me every day of my life?"
My grandparents were married for almost 66 years at the time of his passing. I know there is not a marriage out there than can span six decades in complete bliss. He didn't write love poems every day, or recite sonnets regularly. I know they endured hardships, trials and arguments - after all, what marriage doesn't? But every night, my grandfather fell asleep holding her. Every day he loaded and unloaded the dishwasher for her. He took care of their finances. He provided their lifestyle. He spoke love to her with his actions, and she recognized his love for her.
In order for my grandmother to be able to say that she knew my grandfather loved her, that required two things to happen:
1) He was diligent about speaking love to her with his actions.
2) She was able to recognize it.
They both had a part in my grandmother's statement. My grandfather had to act on his love for her, and she had to be able to see love in his actions.
I once saw a picture on Pinterest (my favorite website ever) that read, "There are a million ways to say I love you...'buckle your seatbelt,' 'watch your step,' 'get some rest,'...you just have to listen." Isn't that the truth? I have no problem yelling at my kids (for the millionth time) to put on their helmets, and every time they roll their eyes, which prompts me to say, "why do Daddy and I have rules?" To which they reply in a monotone voice, "to keep us safe." Bingo! In other words: because we love you, we want to protect you.
Like our kids, who misinterpret our display of love, we can often misinterpret our husband's love for us. We may claim to feel that our husbands don't love us because they aren't showing us love the way we think we should receive it. But the reality is that they love us more than anything in the world, we're just not recognizing their "love language."
Because my primary love language is "words of affirmation," I feel the most loved when someone speaks lovingly to me or about me. I cherish notes and cards; I even cherish text messages and voicemails! Anything that involves words will speak loudly to me...which is both a good thing and a bad thing. I can be lifted up or torn down with a simple sentence.
"Words of affirmation" is definitely not my husband's love language. His love language is "acts of service," which means that he feels the most loved when I do something of service to him (for example, cleaning the house, doing the laundry, etc). For my husband, when he comes home from work to see his hamper is empty and all his clothes are clean, it's as though I covered his closet with love bubbles and confetti hearts. But when he has come home to find the clean dishes still in the dishwasher, he translates that as I don't care enough about him to take care of him.
Ok, are you thinking what I first thought when discovering his love language? "Typical man. Wants things done for him and all I'm asking for is a love note." Here's the thing: my husband will spend his days off working around the house, fixing things that need to be done...because he loves me. I've come home from work and he is beaming with excitement to show me the light he put in my closet. Because his love language is "acts of service," he shows me love by the things he does for me - as he "serves" me.
But I have to recognize it.
Sure, anybody can look at that and say, "well, yeah! He should be doing things like that! He's a man! He's a provider! That's his nature!" But not every man is like that. Some men don't know how to install new light fixtures or electrical boxes, and that's ok. I can promise that they have different love languages.
Clearly you can see that I am wordy person. I can take 20 pages and tell my husband all the things I love about him. I can find the most perfect card and write a deeply heartfelt note inside...and even though I know he greatly appreciates it, he is more impacted by knowing I took care of something in the house so he didn't have to do it.
Here's how the translation looks:
"Jennifer took care of the car today = she did that so I wouldn't have to = she loves me and cares about me."
"Ryan sent me a text and used the heart emoji = he's thinking about me = he loves me and cares about me."
I'm speaking words, he's speaking service. I'm not always going to speak his language, and he is not always going to speak mine. But we have to be able to recognize when we are translating our love to each other.
Getting back to my grandparents, my grandmother had to do her part to be able to confidently say that she knew she was loved every day, and my grandfather had to do his part in showing his love for her daily.
How about you? Could your husband confidently say that you loved him every day of his life? Are you speaking his love language? And do you recognize when he is showing love to you?
I'm still learning how to recognize our different love languages...it's something that makes me wish I had a pocket translator.
But, if someone were to ask me today, I can confidently say that despite our hard days, I know that my husband has loved me every day of my life...because I can recognize his love.
Your language may be different than your husband's, and most likely it is, but like any foreign language, if you learn to speak it, and learn to listen to it, you will see how very loved you are.
Every day of your life.