Have you read the Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman? I highly recommend it. I've read it twice, and Fred read it with me the first time. The five love languages, in case you aren't familiar, are 1) physical touch, 2) quality time, 3) acts of service, 4)words of affirmation, and 5) gifts. What is yours?
We decided right away that Fred is physical touch followed by gifts. And I am predominately acts of service. It really helped us understand all of our early-marriage frustrations. When I cooked him a big meal and had a clean house, I was showing my love to him. And when he failed to notice, but wanted to snuggle and buy me pretty things, he was trying to show his love to me. Oh, if only we'd seen it sooner. Seems so DUH now, but at the time, I was just wondering why on earth he wasn't vacuuming. Afterall, if I love someone I try to help them.
This last Valentines' Day is a perfect illustration. I asked for a homemade coupon book from him. I'm a saver by nature, and I don't like to see things thrown away, including flowers. Why buy something that's just going to die? It's beautiful, but it's more beautiful alive in a pot!! Or grown from my own garden and then lovingly placed in a vase (but that would fall more under "an act" than "a gift," in my opinion.)
Soooo, anyway, Fred bought me flowers, SpiderMan3, gourmet coffee, some chocolate, and my favorite diet Mug rootbeer. Let me explain. The flowers were silk. He knew I didn't want him to buy real ones, so this just made sense to him. Heh heh. They are pretty, and I'm certainly not complaining!! SpiderMan3? I have no idea!! He saw the look on my face and said, "but I thought you like to watch movies with me." I decided to just laugh about that one. Gourmet coffee...mmm...this is when he got smart and asked Isabelle what he should buy for mommy. Then he called my mom to find out what kind. What a great husband. And the rootbeer? Well, Wal-Mart has ticked me off again by discontinuing what I enjoy. (I don't drink ANY other soda. Only my diet mug rootbeer, which I enjoy with 1/2 c of Breyers fat free ice-cream. It's my special treat, and has fewer calories and the same amount of sugar as a glass of skim milk!) So Fred had to search nearby stores to find that for me. Awwww.... how sweet! Now that is an act that I appreciated!
I, on the other hand, bought him DieHard4, which he wanted, and I made him a card, cooked a big dinner, made heart-shaped pancakes, put roses on the bed... you know, all my acts of service!! When I asked for the coupon book, I think he fully intended to make me one, in addition to the gifts, but he got too sidetracked spending money. ;-) I wanted to whip out that book for a free back massage, an uninterrupted bath, an hour of computer time, breakfast in bed. Those four coupons would have been plenty for me!! I made Fred a coupon book years ago, which he promptly forgot about, and then found and tried to redeem years later. I say tried because those suckers had expiration dates on them! Yep, to encourage use. Obviously that didn't work. We just don't function the same way. It's become fun, though, to analyze each other. I like figuring out what makes him tick.
Yesterday we went to Hobby Lobby so I could grab some scrapbooking paper while it is on sale. They also had their Valentines Day stuff on 90% clearance. Can't beat that. We stayed longer than intended, and we were all getting hungry. Fred decided to take us out to eat at Cracker Barrel. If you know us, you know we very rarely go out to eat. I still like to point out that I have NEVER bought my kids a "Happy Meal" and I never intend to. But I do like Cracker Barrel and it's a treat every few months or so, to not have to cook and clean up.
We got seated right away. They gave us the big round table in the front room. I love that they give the kids papers and crayons. Way to go, Cracker Barrel. Maybe all the restaurants do this now, I don't know. Anyway, there's so much food at this place, we just order 2 or 3 meals for the 6 of us, and still have leftovers. The kids were patient about waiting. They drew pictures and we talked about our day and our craft plans. It was just so nice and relaxing.
After we ate, when Fred went to pay, an older lady came and put her hand on my shoulder. I was a bit startled, and she smiled and said, "I've been admiring you this whole time, how you manage your family. You are doing a good job." All I could manage was "thanks," and then she was gone. Wow. That just took my breath away. Yes, my kids were all very well behaved in there. And there were other children screaming. I just didn't expect to be approached like that, and I greatly appreciated it. So now I'm thinking that maybe I am a words person after all! Or at least it might tie with acts of service!
When I see praise-worthy things, I need to offer the praise! Every mom needs it. There are times I want to pull out my hair in frustration. There are times I just want to change my name from "mommy" because I think I'll go crazy if I hear it even one more time. And then there are times, when four little ones act like precious angels and I enjoy every moment. It's so neat when the public "catches" me at those times! :-)