“Mom, does Dad like the goats?”
“No, he hates them.”
“No, he doesn’t. He made them a nice pen and fed them.”
“Your dad loves me, and I love the goats, so he helps me take care of them.”
There has been much discussion about the love languages over the past few years. However, this is not a new concept.
I remember reading an article years ago about a farmer’s wife who said he never told her that he loved her. Every night after supper, he asked her if she wanted to go with him to check on the cows. Every night she declined because she had housework to do (and she was upset that he never seemed to care about her). Finally, one night she agreed to go along. What she learned had nothing to do with cattle and everything to do with how her husband communicated. She found that when he said, “Wanna go check cows?” what he really meant was, “I love you and would like to spend time with you doing what I enjoy.” Although I was a young teenager, that story stuck with me, and I’ve learned how to read between the lines of what my husband Michael says.
Michael is a quiet man. (I suppose opposites really do attract!) Although he will tell me that he loves me, it is not necessarily a frequent sentence out of his mouth. I, on the other hand, am a very verbal person. I’m certain the number of words I speak daily is at least ten times more than what he does. Sometimes, words aren’t enough though.
One of my most recent examples is about another farm animal. We raise pigs that are shown at 4-H and other events. This means that during January and February, we have lots of baby pigs in our barn which is heated by a wood burning stove. For about three months, that stove has to be stoked, sometimes every two hours. Usually the night shift is Michael’s, but one night when he looked especially tired, I volunteered to take over. I set my alarm for 2:00 am, 4:00 am, and 6:00 am. It felt like I just barely fell asleep before the next alarm went off, and I knew the next day teaching school would be a challenge. When Michael’s alarm went off at 7:00 and he had slept 8 solid hours, the looks of relief and love were worth it.
It seems our society gets caught up in the fantasy world of Cinderella where we expect that our prince will come rescue us and take us away to live happily ever after. True love is more than that. True love means learning to speak a language of love that may not be our own first language. Sometimes that means feeding the goats, and sometimes that means stoking the fires.