His and Hers

11 09 2007

       At cross purposes with my husband again.  Not that he’s doing anything wrong- he isn’t.  He’s trying to be helpful and virtuous and everything a good man should be. 

      Have you ever read the 5 Love Languages books?  They say there are five ways people express and recieve love.  Everyone has favorites both to give and recieve.  My favorite is “Special Times.”  I love dates, planned activities, playing cards together, going on walks together, reading books together… even mowing the grass together, for heaven’s sake!  It doesn’t seem like a hard love language to me.  How hard is it to take someone out to lunch or invite them to watch a movie on the couch with you?  How hard is it to make someone feel special?
      Well, apparently, it’s impossible.
      Being together day in and day out tends to heighten my expectations.  After all, he’s HERE.  He has nothing better to DO (being unemployed!)  Surely now all the excuses are gone, and he’ll have time to plan to spend a little time with me.  Instead, we work all day and I go to sleep at night wondering where he is and what he’s doing.  (In his defense, he’s had poison ivy pretty bad and hasn’t wanted to keep me up all night because he’s been scratching a lot.)
        You see, the love language Neal operates in most of the time is “Acts of Service,”  better known as “helping out.”  He “helps” me by watching the kids, by cleaning the house, by looking for work, by fixing the roof, by cleaning my car, by watering the flower beds every morning before I get up!  He gets up at night with the kids, he fixes breakfast, he does the laundry, he replaces ductwork in the crawlspace!  He’s Super Husband!  He would kill himself to please me, and yet, the harder he works, the unhappier I am.
       We get twisted around each other in some kind of Gordian knot.  He knows I’m unhappy, so he works harder to please me.  And as hard as I try to thank him for all the things he does, I’m like a starving person at a feast.  There is all this love spread around me but I can’t get any nourishment from it!  Because, you see, I don’t need to feel “helped,” I need to feel “special.”  I don’t want him to fix my car.  I want him to hold my hand and tell me I’m beautiful.  I want him to pull me into his arms and slow dance around the living room.  He wants to wash the supper dishes and load the dishwasher for me.
       In my own personal twisted psychology, it is my job as helpmate to help him!  I want to serve my husband.  I want to please him.  I want to load the dishwasher myself, for crying out loud!  But he’s so busy trying to please me, it is very difficult.  We’re both trying to earn a pat on the back, and nobody is patting.  
        So we’re frustrated and tense.  We’re getting on each other’s nerves, as usual.  And, as often as we’ve talked about the problem, we just can’t solve it.  He seems to be constitutionally unable to plan a date.  And, try as I might, I can’t seem to accept housework as the passionate outpouring of his masculine heart.  (I know a lot of women are reading this and thinking, “She’s crazy!  I would LOVE it if my husband would help around the house!”)
      What makes it even worse is that Neal feels loved when I pet and hug and snuggle on him.  And I am not a really touchy-feely kind of person.  I don’t like people in my space, you know?  It took me a couple years, but I am now used to the “Church Hug.”  It still gives me finger-nail-down-the-blackboard chills, though, when someone pecks me on the cheek.  Especially if they have whisker stubble, and even if the whisker-stubbly kiss comes from my beloved and devastatingly handsome husband. 
       It sort of makes you wonder how we managed to get together long enough to HAVE four kids.
      I bought us a kit from the Salt Shaker called Simply Romantic Nights.  I thought it would be great.  It has twelve date nights for the man, all planned out, and twelve (ahem) encounters for the ladies to do at home.  The ideas were a lot of fun.  We’ve done all of mine.  Some of them were kind of crazy, but we’ve been married ten years now, and a new idea now and then couldn’t hurt.  The idea is that in return, I am supposed to recieve twelve meticulously planned, utterly romantic nights on the town gazing into my husband’s deep brown eyes and having my hand held until it’s sweaty.  Instead, he sort of scrambled through two of them, then said his assignments are too much trouble.
       It figures. 

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