“How come you don’t say that about me?” Oh, if I could count the number of times I’ve asked that question to my husband after reading yet another husband’s social media post about how amazing his wife is. Far too many.
I’m sure you are familiar with the five love languages. It’s the different ways in which people give and receive love and it includes, acts of service, receiving gifts, physical touch, words of affirmation, and quality time.
People whose love language is words of affirmation often use words of appreciation, compliments, and verbal encouragement when they are speaking to their spouse, or about their spouse. Love notes, letters, texting, or posting on social media are some of the ways in which people with this love language express themselves.
In today’s technologically driven world though, it seems like the most prominent love language is words of affirmation. Or perhaps it appears that way because how else can love be expressed in our social media world?
Which is fine. Everybody’s different, as my husband likes to remind me.
But can I be honest? It’s much harder sometimes to just scroll past and not think twice about these posts when you are married to someone whose love language is not words of affirmation. And of course, one of your ways of receiving love is words of affirmation. Is there anyone else in this conundrum too?
My ability to just scroll on becomes even more of a challenge if I’ve had an argument with my husband and he’s looking a lot less stellar to me right now. During these moments, it seems like every husband whose love language happens to be words of affirmation is online, posting about how amazing their wife is. Except for my husband whose love language (regardless of what it is) is non-existent at this point.
Am I also the only one at this moment who can’t quite muster a heart emoji or thumbs up to the couple who just happens to be so in love with each other? No, sometimes I just can’t. Not because I wish any ill will on that couple. On the contrary, the majority of the time (I can’t say all of the time as I’ve seen exceptions to this), the couples who express themselves in such an affectionate way online are awesome couples I know have a good relationship.
The reason I can’t quite jive with these posts at that moment is because I’m struggling with the fact that my husband isn’t a words of affirmation kind of guy. Never really was, and likely never will be. But if he happens to pull a 180 on me on those rare occasions, it won’t be on social media for the whole world to bear witness to. (Even though sometimes I wish that were the case. Can’t he sing my praises from the rooftop too?)
Be careful what people portray online, my wise mother-in-law always reminds me. While it may be sincere, it is just the highlight reel of the relationship. It’s the feel-good vibes that a couple may be experiencing at that moment that they chose to express on social media We all have those feel-good vibes in our own relationships. They come and go in waves. That’s marriage; that’s life.
And so, when I get caught up in my newsfeed of other people’s lives, when my thoughts start to spiral about how my relationship or my husband is lacking because my feelings toward my husband and marriage are not peachy keen at this very moment, I take that as a cue to log off social media and put down my phone.
I take that as a cue to pay attention to my husband who, perhaps may not be saying any words of affirmation at this very moment, but who is sitting beside me, cuddling with me (quality time and physical touch—the two other ways I receive love). And I also remind myself that words of affirmation are not how I primarily express love to my husband either, nor does he grumble about it!
I try to notice how my husband demonstrates love to me, even if it may not be exactly in the way I expected . . . or in the singular way love is portrayed on social media. There’s no thumbs up or heart emoji or even likes when he shows me love. There’s no external audience cheering him on and giving him accolades. It’s what love looked like before social media ever came along. And it’s the kind of love that exists even after the phone is turned off.