- January 6, 2017
- Posted by: Dale W. Vernon
- Category: Communication, Listening, Self-evaluation
Making time for you and your spouse may seem difficult, but it can be done. And it all starts with communication.
Inevitably, when I find myself in a conversation with another man about our book, he will ask, “What is your relationship like with your wife? Do you still fight?” And almost immediately before he is finished, I respond with, “Yes. 100 percent. But the difference is, we don’t hold grudges anymore, spending weeks being resentful — we talk and we move on.”
Building this family communication structure didn’t happen overnight, however. We had some help, a book called The Five Love Languages: How to Express Heartfelt Commitment to Your Mate by Dr. Gary Chapman. After Monica and I read this book, we began to truly understand each other and what was important to us.
Making Time For You and Your Spouse
The Five Love Languages outlines five ways, or “love languages,” to express and experience love: receiving gifts, quality time, words of affirmation, acts of service (devotion), and physical touch.
When I first read the book, Monica and I were on a ski trip in New York with two other couples, and I completely embarrassed myself by not being able to guess Monica’s love language. I vividly remember her saying after two of my failed guesses, “It’s quality time, you dingus!”
You see, Monica just wanted to spend time with me — no agendas, no managing issues, just time together with her spouse. A walk, a dinner, or even just going grocery shopping together. So I made time and we did those things more often. And, anyone that knows me knows that Dale and shopping do not mix, so I can’t say it was easy to do!
After that event, Monica read the book as well. When she was finished, she just looked at me and laughed and said, “You probably think you are physical touch — as most men probably think they are — but you are acts of service.” She was right. I just wanted things done.
From there, Monica and I finally understood each other, and we understood what was important to each other. It wasn’t the fix-all for us, and it probably won’t be for you either, but it is a critical part of improving your relationship and making time for you and your spouse.
More than anything, understanding each other allowed Monica and I to build our family’s culture of communication. Now, we don’t wait and we don’t stew. We talk about everything — both good and bad — and neither of us is ever too ashamed or proud to say, “I’m sorry.”
Yes, we still argue — there is plenty we don’t agree on — but when we do, we talk, we get down to the heart of the issue, and we look at everything through each other’s eyes. As Dr. Chapman says, we work on filling each other’s “love tank.”
We encourage all couples to read The Five Love Languages. It truly changed our relationship for the better at a time when we needed it most.
One small piece of advice, though … you may want to spend some time thinking about your partner’s love language before you go off guessing it — especially in front of others!
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