So, last night's book club was on the book "The Five Love Languages" by Gary Chapman and if you've never read it, I heartily recommend it as the one book on relationships that will change the way you think about love.
The book asserts that most people give and view love in five "languages" which are: Words of Affirmation, Quality Time, Receiving Gifts, Acts of Service, and Physical Touch. There are websites you can look at to find out more about this concept if you're interested, but the concept itself is simple. There are ways that your significant other can show love that will mean something to you... and others that don't express love in your "world." It would be like your spouse telling you everyday in Chinese that he loves you... only you don't speak Chinese so it doesn't matter.
When my husband and I were newlyweds, we came to marriage with preconceived ideas of how to show love as well as we were still in the thrall of "Being In Love" and all giddy and goofy. My husband, I think, had been taught by society that when a man loves a woman... he will give her gifts. I'd been taught... when a wife loves a husband... she will clean his house... as well as the fact that my primary "love language" is acts of service so it seemed like a no-brainer. I wanted to be a good housekeeper because I thought that he'd see that as me loving him... and that's what a good wife would do. My husband would give me gifts because that was showing love. I won't say that I ever felt unloved, but I kept worrying over the expense of gifts... and then beating myself over the fact that I despise cleaning... with the fire of a thousand suns... and it didn't seem to make him realize that I was crazy in love with him.
My husband wouldn't be comfortable with me sharing his "love language" but suffice it to say... it's not acts of service so while he thought it was nice that I tried... he didn't feel more or less loved by the state of our house. (To my knowledge) Meanwhile, the honeymoon was over... and we got kicked by reality the first year of our marriage. I had weird issues with my health and miscarriages... which carried into the second and third year. Then, we had kids... and the honeymoon was definitely over especially as B's development slowly drifted and she was subsequently diagnosed a month after T was born. Our marriages has never been awful really, but we've had some times that sucked where I think both of us wondered what we'd gotten into.
Believe it or not, I'm not a picnic to live with.
I know, take a moment to pick your jaw up off the floor.
I first read this book about five years ago and it stunned me. For so many years, I'd been plugging along in my marriage and trying to show my husband that I loved him in all the wrong ways. Suddenly, our fights made sense... as did the times when things went right in our marriage. There were times when we were best friends and then times where we were partners at best and roommates at worst. When I started showing my husband love in a way he'd understand things changed. It was like when google offers to translate a page in a different language for you. It's not perfect... but things make sense.
My husband and I make sense together. I've never loved anyone as much as I love him... and I never will. There are days when we don't get along... and I can be crabby as all get out at times and he may wish I was a little less female in some ways (though clearly he approves of me being female in others... we do have two kids after all.) Still, we make sense... we belong together.
My point is not just to recommend this book... which you can see that I do... but to say that a good marriage can still be a love story long after the bells and whistles have ended. Sometimes, things can look really bad but you fell in love once and sometimes that can be saved.
Rereading this book made me think on all the things my husband does differently today now that he understands what I will see as acts of love. It's humbling to think he changed the way he does things because he wanted me to know that he loves me. I still get the occasional gift but it's usually because he knows I wanted it or because he really wants to give it to me. Instead, he takes the kids out to a Monster Truck rally for the day, so I can have quiet. He keeps our car running and makes food for the kids. He does little things every day even though he's spent the whole day working. Most importantly, he does go to work every day... and while he likes his work, he also does it because he loves me.
Love isn't a fairy tale but that doesn't mean you can't have a happily ever after, and I think we all deserve that. Understanding love is just one of those ways to find your happily ever after.
So, it's rare for me to do a book review, but this book continues to change my outlook on human behavior. It's brilliant.
FYI, it was written by a Christian but the themes throughout are not exclusively Christian. There are a couple instances where you can see that he counseled couples from a Christian perspective but the concept as a whole is not religiously-based... nor is religion pushed in any way. Love is the focus. Psychology is the core system not faith or religious themes. Also, the writer is not LDS for those wondering. I'm not sure which religion he is but there are a few mentions in case studies of New Testament scriptures, so I know he is Christian. Still, the concept has human psychology as its basis NOT religion.
Addendum: The concept to this is not exclusive to adults and the relationships between couples. My son's language is "quality time" and my daughter's is "receiving gifts." I think it's valuable to understand your kids' languages so that you know what they'll see as love when sometimes the words "I love you" don't mean anything... especially not to my kids. Every one has an inherent right and need to be loved and this book is about that as much as anything else.
Also, this was one of the few books that was universally liked by the book club... even those that couldn't attend reported in that the book was amazing and would change their lives.