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The Loving Perspective, Part 1

Are you one of those people who can't make the shift from all the awful explanations for what your spouse did? When you Assume Love and try to explain it as a loving act, do you draw a blank?

If so, the series of posts that begins today may help.

One of the best guides is Gary Chapman's Five Love Languages. You can run down the list and see if what happened fits into any of them.

I watched this happen one night at the Yellow Rose Saloon, a country-western dance hall. I was out front, clearing the smoke from my lungs on a beautiful evening. A younger woman came out with tears in her eyes. She was soon followed by a young man I had seen there many times.

Apparently, he felt she had badly misinterpreted whatever he had done on the dance floor. But when he put his arms around her, she let out a scream and ran out into the unlit side parking lot. I asked him to stay put and hurried out to the lot myself.

Turns out his love language of physical touch is definitely not hers. In her childhood, hugs like his (a full-on bear hug) were the start of physical abuse. She had been seeking words of affirmation inside and hoping he would follow with some when she came outside. She hated his playful verbal teasing, because she needed to hear he loved her, admired her dancing, liked the effort she put into dressing up for him.

Were they hopelessly mismatched? Not at all. He could learn to resist the urge to comfort her with bear hugs and still make physical contact. She could learn to recognize his physical contact as a sign of love. She could learn to hear his teasing as a sign of one of his top character strengths, the strength of humor and playfulness. She could also come up with a signal to offer him when she needed him to stop and speak seriously with her. He could come up with one to signal her words were not enough and he needed to be held.

If you two have been life partners for a while, you know his or her Love Language: quality time together, gifts, acts of service, physical touch, or words of affirmation. As you try to explain an upsetting event, start by checking whether it involved your mate's love language or might have been a misdirected attempt at speaking yours.

More tomorrow, in Part 2 of this series on looking for loving explanations.

Comments

I look forward to the rest of this series on looking for loving explanations. When I Assume Love and try to explain my husband's 5-year habit of secretly viewing porn as a loving act, I draw a blank.

Can you possibly see it as something he might do in spite of his love for you, like the woman who eats the leftover birthday cake while no one is looking, in spite of very much wanting her husband to continue enjoying sex with her?

Do you let your distress over the porn keep you from seeing, enjoying, or expressing gratitude for other loving acts? It is so much easier for our spouses to fight an unhealthy urge when they feel strong and good and likely to benefit from fighting it.

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Patty Newbold is a widow who got it right the second time...

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