I’m a big believer in telling my husband how I’d like to be loved, rather than expecting him to read my mind. But in this moment I feel guilty for how often I tell him what I need, how I often I say, “My love language is quality time, and I don’t feel like we are having enough of it.”
Work is busy. He is traveling for weeks at a time. Our kids are little. Our house is old. There is always much to be done while time slips away like sand. It’s true that I crave quality time, and it’s true that it’s important to make it a priority in our marriage.
But I realized I am forever focusing on how I want him to love me, without considering how I might love him.
I wanted to bridge that distance I was feeling, build some closeness. So I asked him one day:
“But how can I love you?”
I look into his brown eyes, which at this moment seem as dark and deep as mystery.
“I want to love you well, but I don’t feel like I know how to,” I continue. “What makes you feel loved?”
David is silent for what seems like a long time.
“I don’t know,” he says, somewhat sheepishly.
And then it strikes me, do I even know how to love him? I know that he knows that I love him. But do I know what makes him feel my love?
I’ve heard it said that two people can both be trying to love each other, but sometimes the messages get muddled like a bad game of telephone. It’s like they are speaking a different language. He buys gifts or puts his arm around her shoulder. She just wants him to look her in the eyes and tell her that he is proud of her. She cooks and cleans and busies herself in his service. He just wants her to chill on the couch and talk after a long day.
Is that us? David is working so hard, with the welfare of our family in mind—he is loving us with those long hours. I realized I spent more time complaining than acknowledging his sacrifice and honoring his hard work. What that meant is that I missed opportunities to love him by saying thank you and telling him how much I appreciate his dedication on the job.
I know this is a temporary situation, a busy season at work, which will be followed by a slow period with comp time and extra days at home as a family. He isn’t a workaholic, just a hard worker.
So I apologize for my grumbling. I tell him how impressed I am by his ability to stay up working until 2 a.m., then to help me with the teething baby who wakes screaming at 4 a.m., then to rise at 6:30 a.m. and start the day anew. With lots of coffee, yes. A pot of the black steaming stuff, enough for both of us to sip together at the breakfast table. We smile at each other. We kiss before heading out the door.
In moments like these, I remember that I do know how to love him after all.