Marriage has been on my mind a lot lately. Not only because of the couples I see who work hard to better theirs, but also because I am in one. I learned in college that 50% of marriages end in divorce. I also know that some marriages are far from happy. What makes a marriage good? Enjoyable? Fulfilling? Heidi Stevens wrote an article in the Chicago Tribune in 2014 about Chapman’s Five Love Languages. I even mentioned this in my recent interview for the North Shore Weekend (http://dailynorthshore.com/2015/01/02/resolutions-for-couples/) as it really resonated with me.
The Five Love Languages are words of affirmation, quality time, receiving gifts, acts of service and physical touch. You can find your own love language here: http://www.5lovelanguages.com/profile/ It really helps when you are trying to better your relationship to know what is meaningful to your partner and not to assume that just because one language is meaningful to you that he/she agrees.
Heidi Stevens also wrote about a breakdown of kindness. She talked about how much easier it is to rush in when things are not going well for your partner, but that we also need to be validating and celebratory about the other things. “That’s great” doesn’t cut it; Rather, “Wow! You worked hard for that. I am so proud of you and can’t wait to celebrate” goes a lot further.
But this article also had me thinking back to the languages again. The above example, the words of affirmation, would work for me. Someone else might want a hug or a gift or a dinner.
In my office couples are easily able to identify what hurts their feelings. However, they are rarely able to express what their spouse feels with empathy or take responsibility for their own hurtful actions with out a lot of processing and guidance. Then to work on meeting halfway—that’s a whole lot more work to still feel heard and validated while at the same time to listen and validate their spouse.
I have such good intentions with my husband and my marriage. I wake up each day knowing that quality time with him is crucial. But then emails, calls, work, kids (the list goes on and on) all seem to take precedent. I wrote him a letter as part of a New Years Eve activity. I made promises to him for 2015 and he will get the letter mailed to him in December. I’ll see if I came through on my intentions. Will you come through on yours?