I came to the conclusion that it wasn’t me.
After I read that book, The Five Love Languages, I thought it was an interesting premise and thought I would look at each of these in regard to myself and others. I wanted to see what I preferred and what others preferred. I don’t think this necessarily has to be only for romantic relationships. I think it works with friends, too.
Most men will jump to touch first. “My love language is touch. I love sex!” Yeah, yeah. It’s not just about sex. Holding hands, snuggling on the couch during a movie, a hug or squeeze at random moments, a quick peck on the top of the head while working at the desk. I did these. All the time. Our desks are side by side downstairs and when I’d get up to leave mine, I’d touch his shoulder on the way out or give him a silly kiss on the top of his head as I walked away. If he was doing dishes, I’d give him a hug from behind. That kind of thing. None of it registered as love. It seemed to me that sex was love to him.
Gifts didn’t work either. I didn’t lavish him with things but if I saw something I thought he might like, I’d pick it up. I’d get a flippant, “thanks” and that would be that. I won’t take it personally. I give gift-giving a lot of thought, though. I listen to people and actually take notes on my phone about stuff so that when a gift-giving occasion comes around, I have some goodies lined up and usually I hit it out of the park. That’s happened with him. I listened and the gift was well received but receiving gifts didn’t seem to be the thing that made him feel most loved.
Acts of service. Yup, tried that, too. This one, though, has some blurred lines because of the cohabitation thing. We do a pretty good job of dividing and conquering the household chores every week and things get done. Early on, he decided that he’d be the one to mow the grass because it wasn’t my favorite task. He felt strongly about cleaning the bathroom, too, and I was all, like, “Have at it, buddy!” So much so that I haven’t really cleaned the bathroom in 10 years. I mostly took command of cleaning the kitchen and we equally tackled laundry. Things were tag-teamed and we get it done every week. This one didn’t seem to register either. He is the kind of guy that will just do things on his own and not ask for help. It wasn’t this one either.
Words of Affirmation. It doesn’t take much to acknowledge someone’s efforts and make mention of it, to express gratitude for something or recognize a job well done. I noticed him. I saw him and I would acknowledge him. All the time. If it registered with him, he didn’t show it. I’d say, “Hey, Handsome, how you doin’?” Nothing. Make comments about his sexiness, his skills, etc. “Hey, thanks for mowing the grass in the 90 degree heat.” Nothing. Just nothing. It was like he didn’t hear me. Maybe I didn’t say it loud enough or make a bigger fuss with these words. I tried it all. Nothing.
Quality Time. That was the thing he mentioned most. I tried; I really did. However, it always fell to me to make it happen. My mom used to say to me, “If you want something bad enough, you’ll find a way to get it.” For the most part, I think it is true that people will work for the things they want or at least make those things a priority if it is important. It might not always work out but at least the person was there working at it, ya know? He’d say something about doing something together and I’d ask what he’d like to do. “I don’t know,” was usually the response. I’d offer up suggestions of things that I thought would be fun, different things to do around town. These things could have included the children or not. Everything was turned down. He didn’t want to go with me to hang out with friends. He didn’t want me to go with him to hang out with his friends, which was something he didn’t do anyway, even without me. Everything was a no. I suggested trivia nights. No. I suggested doing an escape room thing when those were super popular. No. Karaoke? Something I did with friends before I met him. No. (He wouldn’t have to sing, just go and hang out.) Our city always has something going on and the options were put out there and they were always turned down. We’d go to the occasional baseball game but even then… It seemed that he only wanted to do things that he liked to do and nothing else. We did those things but there is so much more to do.
Right now, the kids are old enough to stay home alone for a few hours so we could go out. If we tried that, he’d be worried the whole time, yet it wasn’t enough for him to seek out a sitter to stay with the younger one. It just always seemed to land on me to do all the heavy lifting to make these quality time events happen. I could make arrangements for the younger one to hang out at a friend’s house but then there would be issues with that, as well. Like it was an imposition for us to do that. I would say, “That’s what friends are for. They offered. Let’s take them up on it.” But no. I did find a resource so that we could go out and do something fun and yet it was still turned down. What the fuck am I supposed to do at this point?
There is the flip side to this as well. What about my love languages? What about the things that make me feel most loved? Putting aside Acts of Service, I would say that mine are Words of Affirmation and Physical Touch. I didn’t get much of either. He rarely said I love you without me saying it first. There were no comments about anything, I often felt as if he didn’t see me until I was upset and then felt that he was upset because I was upsetting him. He didn’t ask me what the issue was, just wanted me to stop being upset.
The only time there was touching was if he wanted sex. He didn’t really provide causal touch. It was if the only result of any kind of touching would have to be sex. I think the beginning of the end was when I went to hug him, my arms were around him and he half-heartedly put one arm around me. He was looking away, not curling in for a hug, his other arm just hung there. That wasn’t the first time he’d done that.
Every day I woke up and made a commitment to continue to love this person and when the end came and I said I wanted to separate, the first thing I saw cross his face was relief. I had a feeling he was staying in the relationship out of obligation, and I was right. As the heated discussions ensued, he mentioned that he felt like I never loved him, and I think I literally guffawed when I heard this. I said, “What more could I have done to make you feel loved?!” and when he didn’t say anything, I knew it wasn’t me. I can demonstrate in every way possible that I love him but if he is unwilling or unable to receive those messages, what can I do? What can I do if even he doesn’t know what he needs to feel loved? These are not things I can fix.
I write occasionally about relationships and parenting, things I learn as I go. Be a lamb and follow to be alerted when I write something new. It’s not every day so I won’t be blowing up your inbox. Thanks, Love.