What We Have Here is a Failure to Communicate


I had the same old argument with my husband the other night.

Honestly, it’s not even an argument. It’s a communication issue. It appears that we are saying the same things, but not hearing each other. More times than not, it goes something like this:

I give voice to the concern that has been plaguing me for days: “Our son is not listening. Do you think it’s a phase? All my usual incentives aren’t working with him.”

My husband responds, “Well, he’s a good kid with a lot of spirit. He’s still young.”

Certainly, I do not find this comforting. “It’s just when he gets like this, I wonder if there’s something I’m missing? It’s like he doesn’t even hear me! Maybe the doctor needs to check his ears again?”

My husband is now settling under a blanket on the couch and longing to watch ‘American Pickers’. “I don’t think we need to worry about it. He listens most of the time. One bad week doesn’t mean there’s a problem.”

At this point, I am irritated that he is not acquiescing to my mindset. I mean, after almost nine years of marriage, he should know what I need right now: for him to agree there is a problem. Then he can tell me that I’m doing a fantastic job, that I’m a wonderful mom…and that I’m pretty.

Instead, he tells me not to worry about it. Of course, this drives me to think that he doesn’t care about what I’m saying, or about the subject at hand. Likewise, he reiterates that he doesn’t think it is something that needs to be overthought.

In the midst of my frustration, I recalled a book that was published many years ago that delves into the subject of love language: “The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love That Lasts” by Gary Chapman. He speaks of love language as the way or manner in which one feels or interprets love, and it varies from person to person. Admittedly, I never read the book, but I took a few quizzes online out of curiosity.

The Five Love Languages are as follows:

  1. Words of Affirmation
  2. Quality Time
  3. Receiving Gifts
  4. Acts of Service
  5. Physical Touch

For the purpose of enhancing our communication, my husband and I enthusiastically took the online quiz at 5lovelanguages.com. (Ok, I basically made him do it). Above all, my results came back with Words Of Affirmation being my primary love language. While this is not groundbreaking stuff, it underlines how important verbal expression is to me in a relationship, and helps me to divulge this to my husband. Over and over. And over.

Interestingly enough, my husband had the same outcome, with Words of Affirmation being his love language. While I already knew this to a certain extent, his results have challenged me to keep myself in check. He needs to hear that he is doing a good job at this parenting thing as well. I realize that I need to listen more and to hold myself accountable for dismissing his perspective in order to get my point across.

Even if this knowledge is most likely not a magical “cure-all” to fix all communication glitches in a relationship, I do believe that it can be a valuable tool. After all, finding out your significant other’s love language can provide a heightened awareness of how the two of you connect, and of what may need to be looked at on a deeper level.

And here I thought my love language was merely having my husband watch Vanderpump Rules with me (which he does). Although he’ll never admit it, he likes it. A lot.