True Love is Ever-Evolving

...you’ll need to speak his Love Language to keep up.

By Jen Holman

 

When it comes to keeping romance alive as a parent, the struggle is real. By the end of the day, we parents are exhausted, and often frustrated, and all we want to do is fall onto the nearest flat surface. These conditions aren’t conducive for good conversation, much less flirting and romance. Often we feel there is no other option—who has time to date a spouse with the mountain of laundry waiting in the next room? It’s so easy to fall into the sterile existence of schedules and schoolwork and simply making it through another day. But, if there is one thing I have learned in my time as a parent and a partner, it’s that true love is ever-evolving.

People change with time; it’s as inevitable as aging. Life experiences affect our outlook, and life goals change. Aging itself often changes perspectives and priorities. In any relationship, supporting the other’s evolving interests is so important. But, if we never have meaningful conversations, how will we know that interests or outlooks or perspectives are changing? I miss the simple joys of dating my spouse—conversation, kisses, thoughtful little gestures and gifts. With kids in the house, we can’t exactly whisk away any time the mood arises on a romantic getaway—or to dinner at Brave New Restaurant (our favorite) for that matter. A sitter must be found, schedules consulted, after-school activities considered. By the time those tasks are complete, the event itself feels like another chore. But even if romantic getaways aren’t possible, it’s important to find time to talk, to understand a partner’s needs. To this end, many couples schedule recurring date nights, and even time to talk, to make sure their relationship doesn’t get lost in the shuffle of parenting and life.

I had never heard of “Love Languages” until a friend administered a self-evaluation questionnaire during Sunday school a couple of years ago. My sweet husband and I, who are the classic example of opposites attracting, took the quiz. I’m a bit young-at-heart, a dreamer who can’t stay within the confines of a recipe to save my life. He’s a finance guy with no tolerance for gray areas and a thoughtful streak six miles wide. It was no wonder, then, that the results of our quiz were completely at odds.

It turns out we don’t speak the same Love Language. I know that sounds completely hokey. "Love Language" evokes images of yoga instructors or sex therapists wearing linen tunics beneath flowing gray hair. I admit (shamefully) we didn’t read the Gary Chapman books associated with the Love Language quiz, but the premise is fairly simple. Once I heard it, it was like putting on relationship spectacles for the first time—everything was so much clearer.

The beginning stages of an evolving love.

The beginning stages of an evolving love.

People have their own ways of both showing and receiving love and affection. If a woman feels loved when her partner kisses her, but the partner shows love by doing the dishes or mowing the grass, well, there’s a disconnect. She may not comprehend the love he is showing, and his efforts will go unnoticed. The reverse is also true. However, once couples understand these discrepancies, they can look for ways their partner shows love, and they can work to give love in a way the other will understand. They can speak the other’s language. Why is it so important to know when a spouse or partner is showing love and affection?

Why is it so important to make time for conversation? Because love, like people, is ever-evolving. I think romantic love is much more meaningful with maturity. So, intimate moments and getaways are no longer possible at the drop of a hat. It makes them that much more special when they do happen. Having, and being, a partner who supports the other’s changing needs and interests is deeply fulfilling. In the parenting struggle that so often feels like dog paddling in an ocean tempest, ever-evolving romantic love can be the life raft we most need. 

*Take the Love Languages quiz here. You might be surprised!

Jen Holman is determined to be a voice of reason in the cacophony of reality TV and mom-judgment-gone-wild. She is often irreverent and frequently imperfect. But she’s happy, by God, and that’s what matters. She lives in Little Rock with her husband and three (im) perfect children.