-What are you doing?
-Why does it bother you that I'm on the computer right now?
-I don't know.
This is a fairly accurate conversation between my husband and me on a given evening when we're finally free of other distractions. At some point, I realized that it really bothered me when my husband was on the computer, yet it didn't seem to bother him when I was on it. What gives?
You might remember that I love personality tests, and the 5 Love Languages test (based on the best-selling book by Dr. Gary Chapman) is no exception. After taking the 30-question online version, I was sorted by love language. It turns out that my highest-scoring language is Quality Time.
Quality time is giving someone your undivided attention. I don’t mean sitting on the couch watching television. I mean sitting on the couch with the TV off, looking at each other and talking, and giving each other your undivided attention. For some people, quality time is their primary love language, and if you don’t give them quality time, they will not feel loved. Is it possible that your spouse’s primary love language is quality time?
Holy cow. That explains why I'm annoyed with his computer time! He's not annoyed with the reverse computer scenario because Quality Time isn't his primary Love Language. So what's his?
There is a difference between encouraging words and nagging words. Encouraging words always focus on something your spouse wants to do, not something you want them to do. A nag is anything you tell your spouse more than three times.
Hold up. Is this why he keeps asking me to stop saying the same thing over and over again? I thought I was repeating myself because he wasn't confirming that he heard me. It turns out, he thinks I'm nagging him and so he shuts down. And when he shuts down I ramp up the repeating and actually am nagging him, and the cycle perpetuates. Dang it.
Marriage is hard. It doesn't matter if you're in the midst of a known struggle or if you're jumping around in a marital happy dance. If you've been married longer than three years, it's likely that you've experienced both ends of the spectrum. It's important to know how you operate, how your spouse operates, and how to serve one another.
The following homework is something I stole from my pastor, but it's good advice.
1. Take the 5 Love Languages test. Yes you, and your spouse too.
2. Each of you privately make a list of 10 things that would make you feel loved and valued by your spouse. Then share your lists with one another.
3. Invest in your relationship. Make a consistent date night (even if it's takeout after the kids go to bed).
Take some time thinking about your spouse and how he or she would love to be loved.
What's your love language?