Ever since I wrote the article “13 Ways I Promise to Love My Husband,” I have been making a conscious effort and reflecting on those promises I made. I’ve honestly slipped up a few times in which my husband offered to print out the list and hang it up somewhere I could see it at all times (you know…just to spark my memory). But my reflections encouraged a conversation that I started with him about our individual upbringings. The conversation was centered around the question of why we don’t tell each other we love each other more often? In speaking with my husband about our upbringings, I realized that neither one of us had parents that expressed this sentiment to their children. I honestly don’t remember hearing those words from my parents until I was well into adulthood. But it’s not something I ever thought I had a problem with. I just assumed that it was “normal” especially for our culture (my parents moved here from Uganda just months before I was born), and that saying “I Love You” to your children was just something Americans did. My parents also rarely showed affection towards each other, and I can’t say I remember ever hearing them tell each other that they loved each other growing up.
Subconsciously, I made a promise to myself that when I had kids they would always hear, “I love you” from me, and that they would see affectionate interactions between their father and I. It brings me tears of joy when I see them telling each other (unprompted) that they love each other, and giving each other hugs whenever they’ve been apart for longer than a few hours. I love hearing my kids say it to each other and then surprise me by tell me out of the blue, “Mommy, I love you!” or “Mommy, I missed you so much!” I’m a sucker and it melts my heart every time. No matter how hard they try to work my nerve, they know I will melt the moment they say those words to me. But I was noticing that although we were telling our kids that we love them every day (several times a day), we were not saying it to each other nearly as often.
It took me back to the arguments we used to have surrounding this very subject when we were dating. I wanted to hear it more, and he didn’t want to say it so much that it lost its meaning. His take was that people tell each other they love each other all the time, and then end up mistreating each other. He wanted to do better than those people by telling me he loved me through his actions. And I guess I didn’t feel the need to say it more because it wasn’t being said to me (I know…kinda childish, but true nonetheless). So in having this discussion with my husband, his response was, “Don’t my actions say it more than my words?” It was a very genuine question as his concern was that I felt like he didn’t love me, which is obviously not the case at all. He wants to express his love for me by treating me with love…whether it be breakfast in bed, doing the dishes or allowing me to sneak in a nap while he tends to the kids…that’s how he expresses his love for me.
This conversation reminded me that we love and express that love in many different ways. I just downloaded and started reading my copy of The 5 Love Languages, which is something I’ve been meaning to do (I know, I know, I’m late to the game…but better late than never, right?). One of the first things I read from the book was,“Your emotional love language and the language of your spouse may be as different as Chinese from English.” This statement couldn’t be more true, as I’m realizing for the first time in almost fourteen years, that we definitely speak two very different love languages. So what’s important for me, may not be as important for him and vice versa. But it’s all about learning what the other needs in order to feel loved and appreciated.
BMWK — What do you think? Do actions always speak louder than words, or does it depend on your personal love language?