A few nights ago as we laid in bed, we were chatting about a sticky situation. Danny had an idea about a way to respond. After he described what he thought I could do, I smiled big and told him that I actually already did that very thing earlier that day. He couldn’t believe it. He just hugged me so tight and with so much amazement, shaking his head, with the biggest smile on his face, he said…
Maybe that doesn’t sound like much, but he says loving things like this to me all the time. He doesn’t hesitate to share words of love, appreciation, approval, praise, encouragement, etc. It STILL does me in completely. The joy of it never wears off. Danny does this not because he was born with this, but because years ago he was profoundly influenced by mentors who expressed love and appreciation for him, and he made it a goal to do the same. He intentionally looks for the good in people so that he can sincerely use what he calls “the language of love.”
I hear often that some people have a hard time expressing love to their partners or giving compliments to their partners. I think (and know) that this is tragic! Expressing love is one of the most beautiful things of life – for husbands and wives, children and parents, etc. I know that people often claim they prefer to express love by doing things like mowing lawns or making a nice dinner or buying gifts, etc. (There is even a popular book that has you take a questionnaire to find out what your primary way of showing love is so that people will be able to detect when you are showing love, in case you never verbally express it.) To be honest, I don’t like promoting the idea that some people are just programmed to express love in certain ways, and not in others. There! I said it. (Sorry if you’re a big fan of the book!) I say we don’t let a questionnaire or our previous habits and norms limit us. How about we ALL learn to express love – verbally – with words! 🙂 🙂 🙂 I may be bold to think this, but I think it’s a skill that ANYONE can and should learn. Even if an adult says they are ok with not expressing love, I personally think they are missing out, their partners are missing out, and they are likely avoiding being truly vulnerable. (Correct me if you think I’m wrong on this…I’d love to hear your opinions. 🙂 I just think expressing love and learning to be vulnerable leads to greater connections – not just with a spouse but with everyone in one’s life, including children.
These are some reasons I have heard from people who are uncomfortable expressing love:
“I wasn’t loved as a child.”
“My mother wasn’t around.”
“I have been hurt so many times that I am afraid to love.”
“My family just doesn’t express love, but we still know we love each other.”
“I think loving things but I just never say them or let my spouse know.”
“I was raised with 4 brothers. We just aren’t a loving family.”
My heart goes out to people who really feel like it’s a challenge to express love. If you want to change, decide that you want to practice being vulnerable. Practice. Practice. Practice. You CAN change your norms. You CAN feel safe (and fearless) expressing love if you do it for the right reasons and love for the sake of loving, with no expectations. I’ve seen many, many people learn to do this and they have said it has changed their lives. Learning to be vulnerable and expressing real love will fill you with connection, gratitude, and empowerment. And, if you know how to do it, you can teach your children how to do the same.
What are your thoughts? Is expressing love hard for you or your significant other? Do you think verbally expressing love is important? Do you think it’s possible to change and learn how to express love verbally, regardless of your previous norms?