Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Exception to the Golden Rule

I guess there is an exception to every rule, including the Golden Rule.
While I do absolutely believe that I should treat others with the same respect, compassion, patience, forgiveness, etc. that I desire, in some respects, I have to treat others the way THEY want to be treated rather than the way I want to be treated.
I have been made painfully aware over the past 18 years that the hubs and I do not speak the same love language. (If you are unfamiliar with the 5 Love languages, please check out the book by Gary Chapman or take the Love Language quiz online.) His love language is "acts of service" and mine is "words of affirmation".
 For years I treated the hubs how I want to be treated (following the golden rule). I told him constantly that I love him. I told him constantly that I am thankful he is my husband. I told him constantly that he is a wonderful dad. I told him constantly that I am so glad God let me be his wife. I pointed out all the ways his sermons touched my heart. I heaped praise on his head...because "words of affirmation" is my love language...but his love language is "Acts of service".  So, rather than being overwhelmed with my words of praise,  every time I didn't follow through with something, changed my mind about something, FORGOT something he needed me to do, etc. I was telling him "I don't love you" and, because "acts of service" is his love language, actions REALLY DO speak louder than words with him.
Conversely, the hubs picks the kids up from school, takes out the trash, even cooks dinner and folds laundry if I need him to. He goes to the grocery without being asked. He has a knack for picking up dog food just before we run out and for remembering to get that thing I mentioned I wanted (that I have long since forgotten about)...but he sees absolutely no need in constantly verbally telling me he loves me. He has actually told me that he told me he loved me when he married me; if that changes he will let me know. He sees criticism as a means to drive a person to better themselves and believes that telling someone they are "wonderful" when they obviously still need work is lying to them and giving them an excuse to be lazy.
I'm sure you see the problem.
When the hubs and I both show love the way we want to be loved, we both felt un-loved. To make matters worse, we both feel like we were giving 100 times more than the other person and that our efforts were completely unappreciated. It's a disaster in the making.
Thanks to a sweet friend who pointed out the obvious to me, I realized that there is a fairly easy remedy to all this feeling "unloved and unappreciated".
I remind myself that verbally telling him "I love you" doesn't tell him I love him as much as remembering to pick up his drycleaning does. I make an effort to ask him if there is anything he needs me to do. I offer to ease his load when I can. I pay attention to what he has going on and offer to help when I can. I try to do little things for him to let him know that I love him. I will confess, this has been a challenge, because "acts of service" do not come naturally to me.
I also remind myself that his acts of service are how he tells me he loves me. I thank him and praise him when he does things for me so that he knows I notice and appreciate what he is doing.
Rather than cross my arms and wait for him to change, I see my need for change. Rather than stomp my foot and demand he "love" me the way I want, I love him the way he wants. This makes him happier, which makes me happier.
I want him to love me using my Love Language so I love him using his Love Language...
Maybe its not the exception to the rule after all.

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