I came downstairs this morning and saw that the bouquet of flowers on the mantle needed some attention. Actually, “attention” in this case is code word for they need to have fresh water, have the stems clipped and some of their less than stellar-looking members need to be removed altogether and the remaining flowers rearranged in another vase.
It’s not too surprising that all this is needed because today is the thirteenth day that they’ve been in place on the mantle. Yes, I said, thirteen. And, to make this all the more surprising, I bought them after our dear friends at the Kroger store marked them down because they had gotten in some that were just a bit more “fresh.” I bought them because they still looked great, I had friends coming for the weekend and I love having fresh flowers in the house…and, at the time, there weren’t many blooming out in my own garden.
I’ve been adding fresh water occasionally, but—until today!—no other maintenance has occurred…or even seemed necessary. Now, you know that it made me start thinking about something besides the flowers or I wouldn’t have written this many words about something so simple. Here it is: love and marriage relationships. (Since it’s the “week of love” you just knew you couldn’t escape it here, too, right? Hang with me on this because I even have a gift suggestion for you later!)
Our schedules are busy and sometimes when things continue to appear to be in good shape, we forget to do the maintenance on them. It happens with automobiles, it happens with home appliances and a whole host of other inanimate objects, but I think, by far, we’re the most consistent—or should that be “inconsistent”?!–at this when dealing with other humans…especially those we love.
As long as things “look right” to us, we often assume that they are right…right up until it becomes painfully obvious that they aren’t. If we need to do some relationship maintenance anyway, doesn’t it make sense to do it on a regular basis…it’s a lot more fun that way and the rewards are– trust me here!–HUGE!
Almost everyone I know has at least heard of Gary Chapman’s book, The Five Love Languages: How to Express Your Heartfelt Commitment to Your Mate. In it, he illustrates that we all have different things that make us feel loved more than some others. Just in case you haven’t read it, here are the five love languages that Chapman has identified as being most common:
- Words of affirmation (these may be verbal or written)
- Quality time (note the “L” in there…quantity time is not the same thing)
- Receiving gifts (they don’t all have to be big-ticket items)
- Acts of service (this is why seeing you take out the trash may be the sexiest thing she sees you do all week!)
- Physical touch (this is much more than just sex…although that’s a great part of it, too)
In the book, Chapman talks about the fact that we often speak our own love language to those around us…and they may still not “feel the love” because they aren’t hearing it in THEIR love language. We have to learn to be “bilingual” in relationships.
He’s not wrong, people. I know this from personal experience. The way we speak to each other and what we hear in response isn’t always verbal or in our native tongue. We communicate on SO many other levels. Wouldn’t it be great to be understood?
This is getting long and I could really go on for days, but I won’t. Here’s the gift suggestion I mentioned earlier. No matter what ELSE you choose to give your spouse this Valentine’s Day (two days from now, guys!) think about doing this, as well:
- Tell your spouse that they are important to you, that you love them and want to make sure they understand just how much every day for the rest of their lives (words of affirmation!)
- Tell them that you want to set aside at least 15-30 minutes a day to work on making your relationship even stronger so it will last forever (quality time!)
- Bring out a copy of The Five Love Languages (receiving gifts!…and you may want to add some flowers here, if this is her love language…I’m just being honest here)
- Make sure they’re comfortable and there are no distractions…like dirty dishes in sink or socks on the floor (acts of service!)
- Put your arms around them; hold their hand (physical touch!)…and then start reading together.
(and yes, realistically, I know you may not actually get to the reading thing on Valentine’s Day)