I got another dumb reply to yesterday’s post, but I’m going to just let it go. I can’t talk sex three days in a row.
There are a ton of ways to express your love to someone. There are a ton of ways people like to have love expressed to them. There’s a book called The Five Love Languages. I’m not sure I agree that there are only five, but the basic premise is interesting. In it, the author says we have to express love to people in a way they are in tune to receive. But most of us express love the way we want to have it expressed to us.
That has a natural side effect of not being very effective. The easiest and most common way this happens is the husband trying to be sexual and the wife trying to be communicative. Men are wired to have high sex drives and many if not most men feel most cared for when there’s sexual expression. Women are wired (in general) to have a high need for emotional intimacy which comes in the form of time, non-sexual affection, and communication. They feel most loved and most connected to their husband when they are spending quality time together laughing and having good conversation. I realize I’m generalizing the bejeezus out of this. Deal.
Couples that are able to make it work well and have both partners feeling fulfilled and happy figure out how to express love to each other in the way their partner best understands and accepts it. If your spouse feels most cared for when you are bringing them breakfast in bed and doing nice things for them, then you should be getting up early and making them breakfast in bed. I know that sounds silly, but it really isn’t. If your spouse feels most cared for when you are listening to them and communicating with them, then you should be spending time doing just that. If your partner feels cared for when you rub her feet, then do it cheerfully. If your spouse feels most cared for when you mow the lawn or take out the trash without being asked, then you should do it.
The thing about relationships is that you have to make the other person a priority to you. You can’t force them to make you a priority, and you can’t spend time thinking about that. That’s why being with the right person is so important. You make their needs and wants into a gift that you give them, even if they don’t match up with yours. Let’s be honest, very few male/female relationships will have perfectly aligned emotional/physical needs. But if you have two partners committed to each other, and both partners strive to give the other love “their” way, I don’t see how the relationship could fail. The wheels come off when it’s one way. Or no way.
When only one partner tries to do this for the other, it ends in bitterness and entitlement (respectively). I’ve made this mistake in my past. Trust me, you don’t want to end up married to someone who feels entitled and who doesn’t give a crap about what you want or need. It will make you bitter and resentful. And what happens most of the time is that eventually the partner who’s giving gets bitter enough they stop giving, which results in the entitled partner freaking out. That’s pretty much the end of it.
I spent so many years trying to give in relationships I forgot that I also had my own wants and needs. I suppressed what I wanted because it seemed selfish to ask for it. I suppressed it to the point that I didn’t even know what it was that I needed.
Being in a healthy relationship does change that. It restores you from the bitterness. It rebuilds your confidence. You realize that in a healthy relationship, your partner cares about you as much as you care about her. I’ve been re-learning what it is that I want and need, and even more shockingly, expressing it. And surprisingly (since I am a man, after all), it’s not exclusively sex. Turns out I’m kinda a girl (or so I’m told). I need face time to talk and listen and connect emotionally and intellectually. I need affection. I need to be told how you feel about me. What I don’t need is someone to do things for me. I don’t need gifts. I don’t need kudos or praise. Being with someone who understands these things about me has basically rocked my world. I am very blessed that God brought Nicole into my life.
Don’t assume that what you like is what your partner likes. It’s really easy to assume that, and it’s probably wrong. It’s not even about compromise – because compromise implies that both partners are having to give something up or do something they don’t want to do. It’s a process of learning to love what your partner loves because they love it. You know, like you did when you first met and the hormones were raging… 😉 Guys, you watched chick flicks and sent them flowers then, why’d you stop? Don’t woo someone by expressing love their way and then stop once you’re committed. That’s called bait and switch and it’s certain to send your relationship down the drain.
Maybe you don’t know what type of expressions your partner wants from you. Maybe you should ask… Don’t give till it hurts. Give till it feels good.