On love

When I was a kid my dad worked and traveled a lot.  He missed a lot of games, practices and shows.  Some birthdays here or there.  I don’t ever remember him really “playing” with us.  There were some races here or there, some tennis when we were older, but not much.  We worked in the yard together, we worked on the car together, one of us kids might read to him while he was fixing watches or clocks in the evening.  The big times with dad were dinner time and usually Saturday night.  We’d go to church and then go out to dinner afterwards.

I’ve never been a rebellious or resentful kid, so while there were times when it hurt to have him not be there it didn’t cause me to act out.  But it wasn’t til many years later that I realized that was how he showed his love for us.  It wasn’t that we weren’t important, it’s because that’s how he’d been raised.  The man provides for his family.  And the stress of that kept him going and probably caused him to have the quintuple bypass he had later.  The funny part is that although I didn’t like that behavior as a kid, that’s probably what I’ve grown into.  If I were in a long term relationship now, I’d probably feel the stress of it, the constant worry of having to make sure that there was food, a roof, medical insurance, etc.  And the fear of losing a job would loom over my head.  I already feel those stresses, they’d just be magnified.  It’s different to feel the need to provide for myself than for others.  And subconsciously that stress might cause me to resent that other person a little, especially if they didn’t seem appreciative enough.  The funny part though is that they might not even know that they should because they didn’t ask for me to love them like that way.  Maybe she’d be upset because I wasn’t home enough, or I was so stressed about work that I couldn’t talk about things and the lack of communication would bother her.  Or I’d miss events, or never be on time for dinner, or, or, or.  I wouldn’t be loving her the way she wanted to be loved.  My compulsive need to work, to provide would be something I’d have brought into the relationship with me.

Years ago I said that if I ever got a tattoo that one of the designs for consideration would be the words “Love her the way she wants to be loved” on the inside of my forearm so that I’d always see it as a reminder to love the people around me the way they wanted to be loved and not just the way I knew how to love them.  Easier said than done.  Hence the need for a constant reminder.  But things that are imprinted on you that deeply, that early on are hard to overcome.  I’ve been trying to write another post for months about how guys are just as brainwashed by society, just as romantic as girls.  I know I have preconceived notions of how I’m supposed to act and behave and express love for others.

Someone showed me the love languages website years ago.  I think something like that is a valuable tool for couples.  I think we had my parents take it and even after 40+ years of marriage they were surprised by the order of importance of the “love languages” for the other.  They thought they new what the other person wanted/needed exactly.  That misunderstanding was causing friction and they’d never realized the base cause until then.  And I’ve taken the quiz several times over the years and realized that they’ve changed from time to time.

One thing I’m coming to realize though, is that it’s not just about trying to love the other person the way they want to be loved, it’s also about realizing their limitations that might prevent them from loving you the way you want to be loved, identifying the ways in which they’re showing their love and appreciating those for what they are.  And vice versa, they need to do the same for you.  You can’t totally change some of those things so that person has to be able to accept your efforts, that has to be “good enough” for them or maybe you have to accept that you’re not a good fit for one another.

It’s hard though, when there are “leaps of logic” involved.  I’m more introverted for example.  If I’m dating someone more extroverted, and they’ve always been more extroverted they might never be able to fully understand how hard it is for me to share as much as they do, or feel comfortable around their family or friends as they do around mine.  And without that gut understanding, it’s hard not to just roll your eyes at that other person and just want to strangle them and wish that they’d just be more the way you want them to be, it’s so easy!  And as the introvert I might never be able to understand why they feel the need to talk ALL.  THE.  TIME.  Or why they can’t understand that I need time to process things before I can talk about them and just feel nagged or hounded.  If you’ve never fully experienced those other feelings, how can you not be hurt or offended or disappointed?  Your norm is a completely different experience.

So yeah.  Maybe “Love her how she wants to be loved” on one arm.  But only if it’s accompanied by “But make sure she appreciates how you love her” on the other arm?

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2 Responses to “On love”

  1. YES to both of your (theoretical) tattoos. Not being able to love someone the way they want to be loved, or vice-versa, doesn’t make you bad ~ it just makes you a bad match. Yes, there is give and take. And yes, we all need to be able to bend a bit. But finding the person who appreciates the effort, even when it’s not 100% what they had in mind, is equally as important.

    Ps ~ You’re blogging again! How did I miss that you are blogging again???? So glad you stopped by over at mine.

  2. […] with all of it, or think it’s too watered down in some areas.  There’s a lot of the “Love her how she wants to be loved/Make sure she appreciates the way you love her” dynamic at play there, that isn’t really mentioned much in the article.  Gonna have to […]

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