5 Love Languages

I remember the day I approached my mother to tell her that I felt as if she did not love me. I could barely get the words out because I was crying so hard. She was totally shocked that I would question if she loved me. She listed off all the thing that she did for me out of love: meals, housekeeping, taxes, education, etc. I left that conversation starting to feel that maybe my mother loved me all along but I was expecting her to love me in a different way…

At a later time, I came across the concept of the 5 Love Languages. If you have never heard of the 5 Love Languages or would like a quick refresher click here). For the first time, I was able to understand that my love language is Words of Affirmation (to learn your love language click here: love language quiz). The reason why I felt as if my mother did not love me was because I was looking for compliments and encouraging words while she was showing her love to me with her love language: Acts of Service. We were speaking two different love languages. Both were saying I LOVE YOU but one was speaking Spanish and the other English.

Since my love language is words of affirmation, it’s my default to show love to others with the way that I feel loved (giving loving & encouraging words). But not everyone’s love language is the same as mine. Derek’s love language is Acts of Service. It means more to Derek if I do something nice for him instead of writing him a loving note. So instead of trying to tell him “I love you” in my own language, I have to make it a point to say “I love you” in his language. This is my attempt at telling Derek that I love him on Valentines Day a couple years ago:

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 What’s your love language? When was the last time you tried to speak the love language of someone else despite the fact that it’s easier to say “I LOVE YOU” in your own love language? Food for thought.

Reproductive gossip and being enough

This August, I’ll be married to my Yankee husband for 7 years. I’m 30 years old, he’ll be 34 in September. I was married at 23 years old, young by today’s norms.

There’s something about being married for 7 years + turning 30 in April that seem to have people talking. Talking about us. When we aren’t around. Talking about when we are going to have kids.

I had a feeling that this was happening (the talking) and recently it has been confirmed. I’ve had a friend tell me that several people have made comments to her re: when we’ll have kids. And earlier this summer, an old acquittance asked me the bomb of a question in a large group setting (after asking how old I am and how long we have been married). The “so when are you going to have a baby?” question came flying out before they had asked me about my job, how my husband was doing, etc.

Sigh. I don’t know which one I’d prefer. Either people talking about our reproductive plans behind our backs or being asked the “when are you going to have kids?” question in a public setting. Can I pick neither?

I’m 30 years old. I’ve been married for 7 years. I love my husband dearly. He’s the best gift I’ve ever received. He’s enough. I’m enough. We are enough whether or not we have children (biologically or via adoption). The talking about us having a baby + asking when we will have one makes me feel as if others view me as not enough, that we as a couple aren’t enough. But we are. We really are.

5 Marriage Tips

We have been married for 5 years now. Over the years, we have been given various marriage/relationship tips. Some of the advice has been extremely helpful and others not so much. With that in-mind, here are some tips that I’d give to married couples:

1) Sometimes, it’s okay to go to bed angry. As newlyweds we were told to never go to bed angry, ever. This resulted in me trying to talk things out while hubby just needed some time and space to regroup. There were some evenings where we stayed up way too late trying to resolve conflict that couldn’t be resolved in one evening. Going to bed angry does not mean that your marriage is doomed. The important thing is to seek to resolve conflict and don’t let things fester. Pulling an all nighter isn’t always the best way to resolve conflict. Sometimes issues are best resolved after a full night of sleep.

2) Use “I” statements. This one I cannot stress enough! When arguing, replacing “you” with “I” will help tremendously. An example of this is, “you don’t give me enough compliments.” Taking away the “you” and replacing it with “I” could look like: “I feel hurt when I make the effort to dress up and I don’t hear a compliment.” You causes the other person to feel under attack. Using I instead really helps the person to see your heart and as a result, they are more likely to want to listen and respond positively. Believe me, get rid of “you” and use “I” and see the results!

3) Don’t lose sight of your own shortcomings. It can be easy in a relationship to start focusing on the other person’s faults. If your mind keeps replaying a “record of wrongs” it may be helpful to sit down and try the following exercise. On half of a piece of paper write out all of the positive things about your spouse. On the other half of the paper write a list of your own shortcomings. This exercise can help a person out of a mental rut of fault finding. While your spouse may have negative traits, they also have positive ones. And we each need to remember that while they may have shortcomings, we do as well.

4) There is one saying from the Love & Respect conference that can radically transform your relationship for the better. Dr. Emerson repeats through out the conference, “not wrong – just different.” I wish that I grasped this sooner in our marriage. It is not wrong for our spouse to be different from us. Yet, our default is to want them to operate just like us. When our spouse puzzles us or frustrates us, repeating: “not wrong – just different” can go a long way!

5) This last one I’m not so great at but I believe in the rewards from doing so. Get in the habit of hugging or kissing your spouse every time you come home from work. This can set the tone for the rest of the evening. Instead of being rushed, spend a couple of seconds showing that you are happy to be together again.

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If you have marriage advice that someone gave you or you’ve learned along the way, I’d love for you to leave a comment below.  Marriage is a journey, we never “arrive” so to speak. Learning new ways to improve our relationship is something each of us can do until death do us part.

Date Night Ideas for $10 or less

While engaged, we had several people strongly recommend that we guard and protect a weekly date night. For the most part, Friday nights have been our date nights. Date nights are a wonderful time to re-connect and have fun together.

Playing board games can be a fun date night!
Playing board games can be a fun date night!

While the positive benefits of date nights for a marriage are numerous, there are really two common themes why couples don’t go on date nights. The two biggest reasons for couples not going on date nights are: 1) children and 2) money. Children certainly make date nights more challenging. There’s both the scheduling and paying for a babysitter. Yet, I do know several married couples with children who go on weekly date nights. I have heard the argument that it’s even more imperative to have weekly date nights while raising young children.

Financially speaking, date nights do not need to break the bank. While on a budget, date nights require creativity. Here are frugal date night ideas that we have done:

– coffee at Starbucks and an evening of reading in Chapters ($10 for the drinks)

– hike through a local conservation park ($3 in fuel to get there and back)

– found local (free) events such as the Buskers and walked around ($7 for fuel)

– rented a movie and bought snacks for our @ home date night ($5-10)

– half price apps at a local restaurant ($8+ tip)

– gone biking (me) and rollerblading (hubby) on waterfront trails ($7 in fuel)

The list could go on and on. Sometimes our date nights include face-to-face time which means we spend a lot of time talking (something females tend to prefer). Other times it’s side-by-side activity (something males tend to prefer) where we are doing something fun together but it’s not really heart-to-heart time. Both are OK and necessary in a relationship. But now you are left wondering, how do parents achieve $10 or less date nights when they require a babysitter? Here are a few ideas:

– see if there are any family members or friends willing to babysit for free

– if you have friends raising children as well, see if they will babysit yours for your date night and then offer to babysit theirs for their date night

– sometimes date nights can be done by staying in. just be intentional that one (or both of you) doesn’t fall asleep on the couch or isn’t doing laundry during date night!

In regards to money and date nights the popular saying, “where there’s a will there’s a way” is true. Are you now or have you ever been intentional about date nights? I’d love to hear about it by you leaving a comment below. If you have other ideas for affordable date nights, I’d love to hear them!