“The love you take / is equal to the love you make.” The Beatles “The End”
Here’s a secret I’m hoping most of you reading this post have figured out already: we all love in our own way. Called “love languages” by some, everyone has a different way of showing (and perceiving) affection. But even if we’re already in on this secret, it’s easy to forget it, leading to hurt feelings and misunderstandings.
The problem is that we each show our love differently and if you spend your time looking for those special signs of love and judging your relationships based on that, you may overlook what is right in front of your face and miss out on the most important thing of all—being loved.
Amy Przeworski goes on in her Psychology Today column to talk about the ways in which she overlooked her father’s affection for her while growing up. She reflects, “All of my attempts seemed to fail and after many anxiety-provoking years of trying to win his heart, eventually I gave up on it and accepted that he just didn’t care about me and never would.”
It wasn’t until after her father passed away that she came to realize his subtle way of telling her he loved her–one can of chicken broth at a time.
I’m fortunate to have a mother who speaks a similar love language as my own (words of affirmation followed closely by quality time). There was never a day in my life that I did not feel loved and supported by her. But I’ve struggled when it comes to interpreting the signs of affection from others.
My grandma’s way of caring for people is worrying over them, which can drive any family member mad. I have to remind myself to stop, take a breath, and remember that this is how she shows love for someone. Having a taciturn husband, I often get frustrated by his stoicism (a trait I’m also frequently thankful for). When the shit hits the fan, I have to remind myself to stop and ask him what he’s thinking or how he’s feeling.
It’s a work in progress, as any line of communication between two people is.
But did you notice the catalyst for change in each equation? Communication can be improved when we stop putting responsibility for our feelings on the other party and own up to a bit of it ourselves.
No love is ordinary. Be it between a father and daughter, grandmother and grandchild, husband and wife, or even between close friends. Each relationship has its unique language for showing appreciation, support, and love. Take the time to really listen to it: the syntax, vowel sounds, and accents. Then strive to become a fluent speaker.
“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” Maya Angelou