Life, Marriage

I Fail at Birthdays

This past week was one of my favorite, low-key holidays: Valentines Day. Now, this wasn’t always on my list of favorites, especially thinking back to the single-girl days when I wouldn’t even get notes from admirers (let’s face it, I didn’t have any). But having spent the past 7 valentines days in a committed relationship, I love it. My husband knows the exact flowers I love, has some sort of chocolate-covered sweet delivered (which I promptly eat half of and wish I had saved some), and we usually plan some sort of meal/celebration around the holiday. He knows that displays of affection like that are part of my love language, and he does a great job at making me feel special.

Then February 15th hits, his birthday, and every year I feel like I fail at showing him the same love he’s shown me just the day before.

I grew up in a family where birthdays were a big. deal. The periods in that sentence were intentional–we always had a celebration. For my 16th birthday, my parent’s surprised me by waking me up at 3am, driving me to the airport where my mother and I got on a flight to Miami, and took a weekend cruise to the Bahamas (before me parent’s moved there). When I told my husband that, he rolled his eyes and told me I was spoiled.

Obviously not every year was as extravagant. My 17th consisted of a bunch of friends coming over and eating chocolate cake on the porch and laughing, listening to music, and talking. In my childhood, there was always a party, friends over, wonderful gifts, scavenger hunts, character cakes that my mom spent hours making (Mom, if you read this, you truly made our birthdays amazing. Thank you!), and other fun treats. I actually have a picture in our office of my husband and I at one of my early birthdays (6 maybe?) playing a game together.

In October I turned 25, and I wanted to do something special for my birthday. On the only weekend we had available that month, my husband and I stayed at a Bed & Breakfast in Vermont. We travelled across the state to farms (homemade maple syrup and cheese, yum!), Ben & Jerry’s, Cabbot, and a famous cider and donut mill in the area. I was so happy; even though when we got there we realized we had just missed the end of the fall foliage when a snowstorm had come through the night before.

And what did we do for his birthday? He worked; I worked. He taught lessons; I taught Bible Bowl. We went out for dinner to my favorite restaurant (which he insisted he really wanted to go to). He didn’t even want me to buy him a present! He said that his Christmas gift had been a joint present with his birthday. I still struggled to find something to purchase that he would like.

I’m trying to say that even though we didn’t celebrate his birthday in the way I wanted, he made it clear that it was exactly what he wanted. That’s been something I’ve had to learn quickly in my marriage.

Mu husband and I have different love languages. My top is physical touch (I love snuggling), his is acts of service (unrelated, he hates snuggling). We have different ideas about what an evening together looks like, and what it means to show love to one another. Sometimes, I overwhelm him when he comes home and I immediately want to sit together on the couch, hold hands, and talk about our days. I’ve learned he needs time to unwind, to have dinner and relax, then he feels more inclined to tell me about his day. I know he appreciates that the nights he’s home, I have dinner ready to go and I clean up afterwards. I never do all of the chores (on the weekends he is very helpful), but I know he appreciates that during the week after he’s spent long hours at his job, I’m there to take care of things around our house.

Even though I may feel like I fail every year, I know he’s happy. I know this because I know that his love language was fulfilled. And every moment when I realize he is catering to my love language, I remind myself to do the same for him.

I hope you had a wonderful Valentine’s Day, whether with a spouse, significant other, family or friends. I would encourage you to pay attention to the people you love to figure out what their love language is, and if it’s the opposite from you, challenge yourself to find ways to show them love in the ways that is most important to them. If it’s the same as yours, all the better! Still find something that is unique to them: don’t just do whatever you want to do. 😉 Let me know what you end up doing!

Sending so much love… ❤ ❤ ❤

Rachael

 

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