“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us… … And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.” Marianne Williamson
If I had started this piece some weeks ago, when the idea first popped into my head, it would have been a very angry read. However, I have calmed down a bit and changed my tone, but you may still feel the odd outburst so please bear with me. It’s just that when you have taken the time to plan something special and you are not appreciated, it can be quite frustrating. This topic of Love Languages and how affection should be displayed can get confusing every now and again. Let me give you the gist before I begin my lecture.
Our anniversary was around the corner. It wasn’t a round figure but in this year 2020, I’ve decided to grab every opportunity I can to celebrate life. I made plans from my little savings and booked a hotel (one night) for my husband and I. I told him to keep that date free as we would be going away. I arranged for the children to stay with family and even arranged for lunch to be provided on the day we returned so that we wouldn’t immediately ignore each other to get on with necessary chores.
The last time we took time out didn’t go so well. It was just one night but hubby brought his laptop and spent our chill time tapping away and making phone calls. I was fuming. We talked about it when we got back so he knew not to take his laptop this time. After so many weeks of lock-down with young energetic children, I was happy to have a break, however brief. I know that time out for most guys means sex, sex and sex, so as the good wife that I am, I was prepared for that. I was also prepared for some chill out time to chat and pray together. The hotel was not as good as I hoped and we had to ask for a change of room – I guess they were still finding their feet after Lockdown as well. That was the start of my husband’s moody weekend.
It didn’t really matter where we were in my opinion, as long as we had a clean bed and we were together, but my husband was acting like he would rather be anywhere but here. I tried to get Hubby out of his mood, but once he had relaxed a little, he started complaining again. I got tired of trying as I really needed sleep, so he went to watch football.
The next morning did not improve things and the little chitchat I was hoping for turned into a small argument. We left the hotel so early that I was ashamed to let my friends know what time I got home, after making so much noise about going away to mark our anniversary. Hubby went straight to his computer and asked me to go and get the children. I said I was going to bed. There was no gift or card or anything from him to even acknowledge the anniversary by the way.
Now let’s compare this to a friend of mine who also marked her anniversary. Again, not a major number; but all she had to do was to sort out childcare and pack her bags. Her husband had booked the hotel and when they arrived, she saw that he had arranged for strawberries and champagne to be in the room to welcome them. She sent me a picture immediately and I thought “He is getting a massive reward tonight for making this effort”. They were not in a hurry to get back home.
Now my lecture: I’ve heard it said that men are not great with remembering birthdays and anniversaries as there is just so much going on. While that is not true of all men, do you know any man who does not know what date he is getting paid? It’s up to us as individuals to make the effort to show our spouse how special and important he/she is. Forgetting a date is terrible, but not appreciating the effort your spouse (who remembered) has put into marking a birthday, anniversary, family holiday (or any other event) memorable can really cut deep. The Love Language issue can be very sacrificial, especially when your spouse’s language is very different from yours.
Our default settings will make us love our spouse the way we desire to be loved, so being told that you are doing it wrong, or what you are doing is useless has the potential to knock the wind out of you. We should generally (as a baseline) aim to meet each other somewhere in the middle, but go the whole nine yards on special occasions.
I have a friend who says he doesn’t mark Valentine’s day because he shows his wife love every day. While that is great, there are certain days in the year when you have an opportunity to do something extra. So, if you are one of those who struggles to remember dates, here is some free advice; make extra effort on birthdays, anniversaries, Father’s Day, Mother’s Day and any other unique dates in your relationship. Mark it on your calendar and set reminders on your phone. Big applauds to those who celebrate the first date, or the day she accepted your proposal, or the first time she ate your cooking (lol) or the first time you could were able to get each other sensual presents, or even when the car broke down on the road and you had to snuggle up until help came. If 2020 has taught us anything, its that life is short and unpredictable.
I’ve been told that these romantic notions are not typical of the African male, hence my quote at the start of this article. Don’t be afraid to stand out for the right reasons. Break the mould and have the girlfriend boyfriend relationship with your spouse, within your marriage. It may not be common now, but things will improve, so don’t forget the milestones. Make them count!
PS: There was serious tension in my home for a good five days after we got back and I spent many quiet moments in tears and prayers. My husband later apologized for not appreciating my efforts. We also agreed not to argue whenever we go on a break again, by God’s grace.