Saturday, February 4, 2012

Love, It Will Not Betray You Dismay Or Enslave You

The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love that Lasts.

You may think the title of this book sounds corny.  You may think you have love all figured out.  You may think there's nothing wrong with your relationships.  Okay, fine.

But I would recommend this book to every person who ever plans on having a relationship with anyone.


When Philip and I legitimately began considering getting married (beyond the point of sort of day-dreaming about an eventual probability), I started doing what every awesome student does: I read up on the subject.  One of my best features as an academic-minded person is my ability to research the crap out of anything you throw at me.  I learn best by diving into the material and submersing myself in everything there is to know about that topic.  I love trivia.  One of my favorite things to do (and I kid you not) is to sit in the library, surrounded by books, and look up information.  When a problem arises, I beat it to death with research.

And so it was/is with my impending marriage.  I had better read up on it.  Now, to a certain extent, I've had trouble finding books I like.  The first one I tried was called The Secret Lives of Wives, a book of personal accounts from women who had been married like forty years or more talking about what it took to stay married for the long haul.  Interesting, right?  Not so much.  Weirdly, it seemed very anti-marriage and anti-love, and pro-adultery, as well.  Most of the women in these stories had indeed been married a long, long time, but if they were happy it was because they had learned to be self-sufficient, and hardly any of the happiness was based upon a loving, mutual relationship between the woman and the man.  It was a series of friends with benefits stories, like old roommates who have the added advantage of being able to jump their roomie whenever they wanted.

Hmm. . .not exactly what I was hoping to achieve in my own marriage.  To be honest, I was so disappointed in the bent of all the stories I didn't even finish it.  Since then, I was really hesitant to pick up another book about marriage.  It didn't help that all the ones that came through my hands at the library were all about how to have God at the center of your married life, and while I consider myself a spiritual person, those kinds of books just are not for me.

But, as always, the right book comes along eventually.  In this case, I had heard several people mention this whole five love languages thing, and I was really curious to learn more about it.  And I'm so glad I did.

The basic idea of the book is that there are five main ways of expressing and receiving love: words of affirmation, quality time, receiving gifts, acts of service, and physical touch.  When you speak to your significant other in their primary love language, their "love tank" will be full, and they will reciprocate and fill your love tank as well.  Basically, it's just being considerate of your spouse -- taking the time to understand who they are and what they need, and then making a selfless commitment to express your love in the way they understand the best.

I found out that I almost have a three-way tie between physical touch, quality time, and words of affirmation.  It really bothers me when I can't see Philip.  I have a really hard time not seeing him for a few days.  When I do see him, I have this unconscious need to touch him.  I like to hug him, hold him, hold hands, run my fingers through his hair, touch his face. . .you get the drift.  If we're sitting on the couch, I like to snuggle up against him.  And I am almost never so happy as when he comes up behind me, surprising me with a sincere hug from behind.  I just adore that.  And now that I know this, I feel very freed.  I can actively see where he fulfills my needs, and I can be more proactive in fulfilling his.

Yes, I know, this is super gushy and mushy, but I not too long ago made the realization that family is the most important thing in my life.  I've known this for years in the back of my mind, but I only truly realized it recently.  And as such, I've kind of reprioritized my life.  Yes, I want to go back to school.  Yes, I want to have a career that makes me happy.  Yes, I want to be financially secure.  But even more than that, I want to have a happy family life.  I want to spend quality time with my spouse and my children, and make sure that they know just how important they are to my life and my happiness.

In other reading news, I have read several kids' books on predators (and javelinas, who aren't really predators despite their imposing tusks), a book of Indian folk tales I totally plan on reading to my kids (especially excerpts from The Mahabharata, the best epic EVER), and an expose of Greg Mortenson, Mr. Three Cups of Tea peace and education promoter.  It's been an active New Year so far, reading-wise.

Next up: Seeds of Love, The Demon in the Freezer, and The Man in the Iron Mask!

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