I can’t remember exactly how it came up in conversation, but it did. I had heard about Gary Chapman and the concept of ‘love languages’ and was very intrigued by it (https://www.5lovelanguages.com/). We decided to do the online questionnaire. My dominant love language turned out to be ‘quality time’. His was ‘words of affirmation’ and ‘physical touch’. We set about ways to love each other. As part of his degree years ago, he had learned Greek, so I Googled a few enduring phrases and even found a Greek nickname for him. Everyday I would text or whatsapp something Greek and also occassionally in English. They were words that affirmed him or communicated my love and trust in him. When we had conversations I encouraged him, when he felt inadequate in relation to his work or even in his social life I boosted his confidence. We held hands whenever we drove anywhere or happened to be walking. I wanted to make sure that he always felt loved. A general complaint from men is that women don’t initiate sex as much as they do, so I also tried to get the ball rolling in that regard and not always leave it to him.
In my mind I was pouring into his love bucket on a daily basis. I was a firm believer (and still am), that passion and dating should never burn out or disappear after marriage. It was a little while before I realised that my love bucket was often empty . . . for days. In the mornings when we woke we had worship together and then we’d get ready for work. We both worked in town which was a 30 minute drive. When we first married we used to chat on the way to town but then at some point he said that he wanted that time to listen to the news on the car radio. Due to the nature of his job we couldn’t speak every lunch time, and in all fairness due to the nature of my job I couldn’t either. Once we got home and he changed out of his work clothes he would disappear again downstairs. He claimed the car needed to be washed everyday because it was white and dirtied easily. In my mind it didn’t have to be washed everyday, besides I realised soon enough that he was on his phone all evening communicating with only he and God knew who. Sometimes after work we stopped at the river to bathe before heading home. However, for the most part I spent my evenings being alone.
It took a number of weeks before I had the courage to speak to him about it. It had to be well thought out. I couldn’t just spring it on him, I would have to try to choose the right moment by reading his mood. I was in the kitchen cooking our lunch one morning. I had him stir in the bed. When he appeared in the kitchen he seemed relaxed and rested so I decided that now would be a good time to bring up the subject. I smiled and kissed him on the lips like a dutiful wife. I took his hand and gently led him to the table so that we could sit and talk. Somehow I felt that sitting down at the dinning table wouldn’t seem threatening to him. I took his hand in mine and started to stroke it.
“Babes? Remember when we did the whole love language thing? I know you love it when I share bible verses with you and the Greek phrases. With my love language being quality time I was wondering if we could spend a little more time together. In the evenings you are sometimes a little busy with the car or on your phone, but I’d really appreciate it if we could do something together after work today”. There! I’d done it. I kept the physical contact so that he wouldn’t feel like I was attacking him. I kept my tone very neutral so he wouldn’t feel like I was being accusatory. I kept a smile on my face so that he wouldn’t feel like I was angry with him. It was just an observation. I was merely touching base with him.
“You’re trying to keep me in a box. You are telling me what to do. I’m a grown man and have a right to do what I want. Stop trying to control me!” he said as he pulled his hand away. My heart sank. It had all counted for nothing. My feelings of deflation grew. With a calm face and manner I looked at him.
“You’re absolutely right. You’re a grown man and have every right to do what you want. I shall not ask again, I humbly apologise”.
With that said I got up from the table, turned the stove back on and resumed the cooking. I resolved that I would never ask him to love me ever again. No one should ever beg for the love of anyone else. If you have to beg then it is clear their love for you perhaps doesn’t exist. You are with the wrong person. If someone loves you, their love will be forth coming. It really is that simple.
Thinking back, perhaps this is where the mechanical version of me started to develop. I did things on autopilot, and detached my emotions from my marriage. Everything was now an unpaid dutiful chore, I put my game face on every single day. He started to lose me then and he didn’t even know it.
In Christianity we often speak about the unconditional nature of God’s love for humanity. We say and believe that we should be the same. I thought I had unconditional love but up until that point I realise I didn’t. I have often used this analogy; love is like a flower. If you don’t water it, it will die. This is a persnal fact which I will only apply to my situation without making a generalised statement on behalf of Homo sapiens. I knew that without ‘water’ I would die. Though I made a vow, I couldn’t see myself being a marital martyr. I was always trying to understand him, make allowances for him, give more of myself to him, be selfless to him, make sacrifices for him, but it was never enough. He always wanted more, always expected more, always demanded more. I had no more to give. Until I could figure out what I was going to do, I could at least reduce the chances of further hurt by shutting down. I didn’t know what to do but I would no longer cast my pearls before swine. I had more self value than that.
Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you. Matthew 7:6King James Bible