My counselor friend Kathy is one of the smartest people I know. Not just book smart, she’s street smart too. I was telling her how every married couple I know struggles with sex, money, or extended family (parents, in-laws, siblings, cousins, etc.) She said those were manifestations of a problem but not the real problem. Symptoms but not the disease. She continued to explain that the core issue comes down to the way we love our spouses. We want our spouses to love us the way we want to be loved . . . but usually, that’s not natural. Loving in my love language comes naturally to me, but loving my wife in her love language doesn’t. It’s like doing something left-handed when you’re right-handed. You can do it with tenacity and focus, but it’s not natural and never will be.
After hearing this, the first thing I did was think about it in my marriage, and I found it to be oh-so-true. My wife loves through acts of service. She serves me all the time and does so incredibly consistently . . . cooks me great meals, takes care of the house, the bills, and the laundry, and much more. Serving isn’t easy . . . love in any language requires selflessness. But acts of service are natural for her.
Me, on the other hand, I’m a words of affirmation person. But asking my wife to love with affirming words is like asking her to do something left-handed. Even knowing that, sometimes my selfishness gets the best of me and I find myself angry because she doesn’t love me the way I want to be loved. It’s like we both drive our cars into a roundabout, but we don’t exit . . . I’m a jerk because she’s not giving me the affirming words I want, and she feels unappreciated because she is showing her love for me by serving, and I ignore it and take it for granted. We’re following each other around-and-around in the roundabout.
Husbands, you’re the leaders. It’s your job to drive your car off the roundabout by accepting and appreciating the love your wife gives you in whatever way she naturally gives it. It’s up to you to create an environment of acceptance, not one of criticism and rejection. Wives, it’s your job to follow your husband off the roundabout by accepting and appreciating the love he gives you in the way he naturally gives it. To expect each other to start loving left-handed creates unrealistic expectations.
Love is a choice, not a hole you fall into. Choose to drop your expectations. Choose to be grateful for her love, no matter how she gives it. Choose to love your wife “as Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her.”
Scripture: In the same way, you husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way [with great gentleness and tact, and with an intelligent regard for the marriage relationship], as with someone physically weaker, since she is a woman. Show her honor and respect as a fellow heir of the grace of life, so that your prayers will not be hindered or ineffective. (1 Peter 3:7, AMP)