Sometimes in the midst of wearing my laundress hat, teacher hat, mom hat, wife hat or any one of my other millinery options, I forget which language I need to be speaking; or as I recently found out, don't even know which language is most appropriate for the situation. No, I haven't become bilingual and disoriented. It's not Spanish or French to which I refer.
The kids recently resurrected the discussion of "The Five Love Languages". As a matter of fact, a couple of them had been to the website and taken the assessment. As you might imagine, an animated discussion ensued, and I was left a little dejected. I realized that I had been blowing it with a certain child...really, seriously not speaking the right language AT ALL!
Patrick and I can joke about them as we've discussed the love languages plenty over the years. We laugh because we are so opposite. If one of the languages is at the top of his list, it's at the bottom of mine and vise versa. It makes for comical moments. For Patrick, Acts of Service communicates love and affection to him. So when he rattles off a list of things he's accomplished for me...a to-do list I didn't even know needed to be done...I can know that he did those things because he loves me. And I, in turn, can smile and thank him profusely because I know it's his language (instead of doing what comes natural to me...staring blankly and wondering why I would care if my van tires were rotated and transmission system flushed out).
You can laugh it us, but this used to be a big deal in our marriage. This is the honest to goodness truth---early in our marriage, Patrick would vacuum the house. I don't mean zipping the machine through the middle of the room. I mean moving furniture, dusting off baseboards and really going to town with the vacuum cleaner. I would get defensive and moody (okay, downright pouty) because I was hearing "you don't keep the house as clean as I would like it, so I'll just do it myself." In reality, he was just speaking the love language that comes most naturally to him...and assumed I was listening in the same language he was speaking.
Needless to say, Patrick and I have come a long way, but I've realized I need to figure out a way to speak to the kids in their primary love language. I confess, it feels a little overwhelming to think about keeping it all straight with four kids...like maybe I need a flow chart or a giant reminder on the refrigerator. But thinking about how being in tune with the kids' love languages would pay huge dividends makes it worth the effort. Maybe I can give a follow up post on my success and/or failure in this area.
If you are unfamiliar with love languages, check out the book by Gary Chapman, The Five Love Languages and The Five Love Languages of Children.
What about you and your spouse? Do you speak the same language? Or at least recognize that you don't speak the same language and make an effort to translate?