How many of you remember watching daytime or nighttime soap operas? We would get lost in the saga of all of the different characters and storylines, but whenever it came to romantic relationships, they were always symbolized by candlelit dinners, impromptu rendezvous or grand gifts. This entertaining fantasy world may have added to the confusion and disappointment when the honeymoon phase ended and real life began.
How do you recognize love in everyday living?
In his book, The Five Love Languages, Dr. Gary Chapman introduces the concept that people show love differently, and knowing what each person needs or how they show affection is essential for any relationship, either with your spouse, children, extended family or friends.
Going back to 2011, my husband and I bought his mother’s childhood home – a small 1½ story, white-sided house. The house and property needed some TLC, but we saw the potential. He renovated the interior prior to us moving in and made it really homey. We had bigger plans for the house, but it wasn’t the right time to dive into major renovations.
One day, I came home and my husband motioned for me to come to the backyard. I walked around our front shed where our backyard opened up. There behind the shed, he had dug a flower bed for me. It was no small feat. He had pulled out massive boulders that hadn’t seen the light of day for decades! In that moment, I recognized how much our home meant to him and the pride in what we had; it truly was a labour of love. His actions reminded me the importance of appreciating the small things while looking at the bigger picture.
My husband is not verbally expressive. Just because he doesn’t come out and say, “I love you,” does not mean he doesn’t feel it. When my spouse brushes the snow off my vehicle and the engine is warming up, that’s love. When he grocery shops to help cut down on additional household duties, that’s love. Every time a text comes through asking you how my day is going, that’s love.
With my kids, I show love when I play games, read with them or watch them play sports. I was fortunate to be able to go with my oldest daughter and her rugby team on a UK Tour in 2019. At first, she didn’t think too much of Mom being the female supervisor for the team — but in the end, she was glad I was there. Being in Scotland and watching your child play at that level was an incredible experience. The moments when she would come off the field and ask, “Did you see that play?” or when she needed reassurance of her performance, I was there to give her the love and support she needed.
Off the field, while we were walking along the Royal Mile, her coach told us there was a Harry Potter store on Victoria Street. We looked at each other, smiled and headed for the shop. To our amazement, Victoria Street looked like Diagon Alley from the books; it was awesome. By giving encouragement, my undivided attention and a smile, I expressed love towards my daughter. Maya Angelou says it best in this quote, “If you only have one smile in you, give it to the people you love.”
Recognizing small acts of kindness will make you feel appreciated and help you to clearly see what you may have been missing. This habit is about making a choice and putting forth an effort to understand how the other person expresses love or little things you can do that speak their language. It is about respecting where the other person is at without the expectation that someone else is responsible for your happiness. True contentment comes from within your soul. You are responsible for finding your internal comfort and gaining a genuine healthy respect for yourself.
By loving yourself first, you pave the way in understanding how to fully express tenderness towards others. You may be asking, “How do you do that?” A good way to start is to make a list of all of the things that bring you joy. I have a friend who calls it her ‘Joy List.’ It helps you to identify and appreciate everything that makes you happy. Once you begin to look within and gain clarity, your connections with others will blossom.
Imagine how much more meaningful your life could be if you changed your perspective on relationships to see how much love has been around you the entire time.
For those of you that remember the movie Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, here is my all time favourite quote, “Life moves pretty fast, if you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”