March 8, 2013

Water in the desert

I thrive on 'words of affirmation'. (From The Five Love Languages)

One of the challenges we've faced as a couple is that each time we move Jrex is my only 'real' friend for a while. Usually once I dive into a church, I get surrounded by people who affirm who I am, my gifts, my friendship, etc. Poor Jrex fights an uphill battle since compliments are not his style. This move has been doubly challenging because we've added a kid to the mix. Therefore, it's taken more time to find a church, and despite having found one, it's taking a while to get connected. Having a kid in tow provides quick connections, but lengthens the time required to achieve depth. As a result, I've not been getting many affirmations. If I ask him to 'tell me something nice', he always responds in a wonderful way. It's good, but somehow, just not as 'real' as if he spontaneously tells me I'm the best wife ever (a girl can dream, right?).

Sadly, the love desert works the other way, too. Jrex's primary way of showing (and therefore of receiving) love is through serving others. Well, that's the one that's hardest for me to do. I'm already doing most of our laundry, much of the childcare, most of the house straightening, and in my oh-so-abundant (not!) leftover energy, various house projects. Therefore, he does most of the cooking, yet in Korean culture, food=love. Sigh. We're both starving each other despite our best efforts.

One of my best friends sent me an email today that was a HUGE help:
What's so great about you?

1.  You are so fun to watch / hear as a mom.  I love your heart for your little boy and how much fun motherhood is for you.
2.  You have modeled perseverance and love in your marriage, in a way I've not seen in anyone else. 
3.  You love life, and you are able to connect with anyone and anything.  :)
4.  You are honest and caring in your communication.  I know you will always tell me the truth—even if I don't think I want to hear it.
5.  You are careful with your friends... I feel safe with you and always have.
6.  You see beyond the exterior of people and into their lives.
7.  You are a constant that I'm so thankful to have in my life.
8.  You have ideas beyond what a normal brain can hold. 
9.  You don't give up - you figure out a way to make things happen, in relationships, in your job, and even with small details.
10. You recognize God's hand in and on your life, and you are mindful of His blessings.
11. You are a great communicator—I have learned so much about communicating what's in my heart because you have been open and patient with me over the years.
Obviously the list could go on, and I could elaborate on each of these things as well. But basically, I just want to let you know that you are
beautiful and loved and appreciated!  I truly don't know what my life would be without you. Thanks for showing up, and for staying through all the stuff we've walked through over the years.  You are more of a blessing to me than you may ever know. 

Part of the point in this fraught and fragile life is to be truly known and truly loved. I think there are points in a marriage where each person feels truly known and truly tolerated. Jrex and I are working on rebuilding our emotional adoring core (we're still enjoying our 'in home' date nights), but while we're working on that, it was wonderful to hear from someone else who truly knows me and has the words that help me feel loved.


Inkling said...

That is such a special gift. I had a friend unexpectedly drop something similar into my email inbox a couple weeks ago, and it amazed me. You know, I'd never really thought about the acts of service one as being a key component. But now that you write about it, I wonder if that could help over here too. As that's one I take for granted and don't really value properly, I am bad at doing it. But the way you explain it, I actually wonder if that could be what's missing here. My husband never gets super excited about gifts I give him, even though he once told me he loves getting gifts. But I think it's the constant housekeeping stuff that would totally get him super excited if I figured out a way to stay on top of it better while also keeping our four year old's need for tons and tons of quality time filled. May have to experiment......(this would be when I wish we had a maid) =)

Rachel said...

What a sweet email. How amazing that it came just at the time you most needed it.

The affirmation v. acts of service breakdown in your relationship resonated for me. In my experience, it seems like Koreans generally show love through acts of service v. words. Knowing that it's a cultural difference takes a little bit of the sting out of it for me, but it's still hard.