A couple years ago, Jake and I read the book The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman. The book is just meh, but its principles have definitely helped us to understand how we each show and receive love. Before we’d read it? Yeah, we weren’t so hot at that.
Jake’s love language is affection and physical touch. That is how he receives and shows his love. Before reading the book, I remember Jake holding my hand while we watched a movie and boring holes in my skin with repetitive thumb-strokes. To him, that said I love you. To me, it said I’m trying to kill you with my thumb, slowly and methodically. I told him to knock it off, and he felt rejected. No bueno, especially since I rarely returned the repetitive affection. If it annoyed me, it must have annoyed him too, right?
Meantime, my love language is gifts. I’m always afraid that sounds materialistic, but really any gift will do. I also relish in gift-giving and the surprise on someone’s face when they get something they really like. That speaks love to me. But not so much with Jake. I would buy him some little trinket or doodad that reminded me of him and await the gush of gratitude, but all he really wanted was a hug. On the flip side, for our first Christmas together, he bought me a heating pad for my menstrual cramps. A heating pad. “You said you needed one!” he explained upon seeing my grimace-trying-to-be-a-smile.
Did I say any gift will make me happy? Okay, I admit, I feel most loved when someone gets me what I really want, not just what they think I need.
But then we read the five love languages book, and now we get it. I put my hand on Jake’s shoulder/knee/neck and he feels loved. I still don’t understand how, but he swears it works. And he goes out of his way to get me little somethings now and then so I fell loved. The best he’s done so far was to surprise me with a super-plushy bathrobe I’d been lusting after. When I asked him how he knew I wanted it, he pointed to my stained, crusty old bathrobe and said he was sick of seeing me hobble around in rags. “Sort of a gift for everyone” is what he called it. Hey, whatever works.
For gifty types like me, Christmas is a big deal. I’ve been brainstorming gifts to give to family all year long, taking notes, keeping lists, etc. It is how I enjoy myself. Jake, on the other hand, is stressed out about the gift-giving. (I don’t blame him for wondering why there isn’t a national affection holiday. Wait, maybe it’s best that there isn’t one. [Mind wandering]…ew, nevermind.) So, to help him out, I present him with an annual list of things I might enjoy. Again, this probably seems materialistic and grabby, but he always appreciates the minimization of margin for error.
I noticed as I put it together that this year’s list is very different from prior years’. Pre-Seabass, my wish list would include clothes, cookbooks, kitchenware, etc. And while I do and will always appreciate those sorts of things, this year? It’s all about making up for the hygiene I’ve lost since Seabass was born.
Again, the gifts I want are sort of like gifts for everybody.