I’m a “words” person. I like to write, edit, and proofread words. In fact, it’s my job. Sometimes it’s hard for me to remember that the rest of the world doesn’t see things in black, white, and red like I do. On occasion I tend to let my passion for making the most of words cloud my judgment of those who are, well, less wordy.
In my marriage, I find that I express most of what I think and feel through my words. But my husband isn’t wired that way.
Case in point—a few nights ago, I laid in bed as I listened to Victor brushing his teeth. He too climbed into bed, and then neither of us said a word. From there the drill always goes like this: I reach over, give him a kiss, and tell him goodnight. But that night I waited.
I’ve been doing this for nine years. It’s his turn to roll over, give me a kiss, and tell me goodnight. Why doesn’t he ever initiate our end-of-the-day sign-off?
But nothing happened. I waited. Still nothing.
I broke the silence: “Do you even know that I give you a kiss every night?”
His answer told me all I needed to know.
“When? Do you kiss me after I’m asleep?”
“WHAT?” I jolted. “I’ve been doing this every night of our marriage WHILE you are still awake. How could you not know that?”
He did tell me that he does notice when I get close to him, nuzzle, and cuddle him while we fall asleep. He told me that he looks forward to that. But when he gets to bed, he’s often too exhausted to register much else of what’s going on.
Victor went on to explain to me that every night he is mostly focusing on ignoring his chronic pain that never leaves him as a result of surgical scar tissue. Sweet words aren’t the first thing he notices when he’s trying to block out pain just so he can fall asleep. He seldom complains about his pain, so I tend forget that he’s still dealing with it.
Something became clear to me: I was going through the motions of my little tradition every night because it was of emotional importance to me, not him.
If I had really been focused on my husband’s needs and desires, I might have realized that he shows a great deal of love to me in his nightly routine by simply getting into bed next to me without a word of complaint about his physical pain.
None of this is to say that words of love are not important. They are. It’s just that their absence doesn’t mean love isn’t there. In that moment, I was reminded how often he shows me he cares– just not in the same way as I show him.
Nothing makes me feel loved more than when my Victor pulls me closer to him in the middle of the night. He doesn’t have to say a word–I feel him saying “I love you.” And when I think of all the ways that Victor tells me that he loves me, words really don’t do that kind of love justice.
Our love is more than a spoken word, more than a habit of expressed affection. And it’s much more than what makes me feel good. It’s about two people learning what makes the other feel loved.
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