It started out as a hushed whisper, two voices: a man and a woman, that I couldn’t quite make out, not for lack of trying, as I stood in one of the tile aisles at a big box store. This hushed whisper quickly escalated to a full on “yelling” match, the kind you expect to see on Maury Povich or Judge Judy. It was not hard to discern what was happening at that exact moment, as the male voice loudly proclaimed, “Why can’t you just make up your mind? It can’t be that hard?!!!” I rounded the corner to see a very clearly embarrassed woman now paralyzed with FOMRD and AP (a bowl full of FEAR OF MAKING THE WRONG DECISION topped off with a huge dollop of ANALYSIS PARALYSIS). I just wanted to run up, give her a hug and tell her it would all be ok, because that is what I do for my day job at Christi Cooper Design. But after looking into the husband’s disgruntled eyes, I decided that would be very inappropriate as I was a complete stranger dressed in workout clothes and no makeup, full weekend mode. I knew one thing from what I heard, they had been there over an hour and he was ready to go home, without passing Go or collecting $200.
On my way home, I started thinking about the Peter Parker Principle: With great power comes great responsibility. I knew at that moment I could do something about FOMRD and AP. I had the super power (knowledge) and a platform (the vast internet) to try to save the everyday Joe and Jane from this mess of stress related to making decisions for even the simplest home project. Now all I needed was a cool cape and I would be ready to fight the good fight.
So I found myself sitting in my super hero cape (my blue fuzzy robe) drinking the elixir of life (coffee), researching ways that couples communicate with each other under stress based on their Enneagram personality types. I also began exploring the 5 Love Languages, and how each person subconscious needs to receive LOVE from their partner in order to feel loved, valued, and connected. Believe it or not, the University of Arkansas had a one hour course called LOVE in the 80’s, that I signed up for thinking it was going to be an easy “A”. Well I definitely got more than I bargained for, as we dug deep on our beliefs surrounding the subject of love. Our textbooks were “Love” and “Living, Loving, Learning” by Dr. Leo Buscaglia (Dr. Love as he was known) which was written almost 50 years ago. These books are still relevant today as society struggles with disconnect in the age of technology.
Dr. Love stated, “Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind work, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn life around.” Though my kids always thought my super power was ESP and having eyes in the back of my head, I really knew it was the ability to encourage and inspire others through these simple things. As I studied his quote, I realized that he was talking about The Five Love Languages, popularized by Gary Chapman.
Let’s dig a little deeper (and I am not talking a hole out back.) Did you know that couples that learn how to speak in each other’s love languages can radically improve their relationship? Did you know that the natural way you “speak” to those you love, is really the primary love language you need spoken to you in order to feel loved and valued?
Here we are, at the Tower of Babel speaking 5 different languages. If we are not communicating in the same language, no wonder there are misunderstandings (and fights.) Dr. Love said “We need others to love and we need to be loved by them”, but he didn’t tell us we needed a universal translator. So here it is:
WORD OF AFFIRMATION
Do you support and encourage others by giving them unsolicited compliments? To you, actions don’t speak louder than word, hearing “great job”, “You Look Maaaaavalous” (Billy Crystal anyone?), and the big “I Love You” means the world. Insults and unkind words leave you in a state of devastation, which you find hard to forget. You live for encouraging and kind words that build up your spirit.
Example: An honest compliment: “You clean up well!” (after a grueling day picking out windows and doors)
ACTS OF SERVICE
Do you like to lend a helping hand whenever possible and to serve others out of love? You probably feel very loved and valued when someone helps you out of their own accord. “Can I do that for you”, speaks volumes to your soul. When others break commitments, make more work for you or seem lazy by not helping out, you feel that your feelings don’t matter.
Example: A kind work: Your partner takes the hammer from you and finishes that little DIY project for you
Do you love it when someone remembers your favorite coffee flavor, and brings you one just because? The receiver of this love language appreciates the thoughtfulness behind the gift, not just the gift itself. You feel especially loved and cared for when someone you love goes out of their way to find the perfect heartfelt gift or makes the perfect gesture. You feel upset and not valued when someone misses your special day or gives you a thoughtless gift. Ban all gift cards….unless it is for a massage or mani/pedi or for the favorite sporting goods store where you have been eyeing those new golf clubs for months. Gifts are the symbol of someone’s love for you, and they fill you with joy.
Example: The smallest act of caring: bringing someone their favorite cup of Joe when they have to meet the electrician at 7 am.
Does it drive you crazy when you are on a date with your partner and they spend the entire dinner watching the football game on the big screen at the restaurant? Do you desire one on one time together, sharing special activities with no distractions? Full on undivided attention makes your heart full as you spend time with those you love. It hurts when you are ignored or not listed too, or someone cancels time together that you were looking forward to.
Ex: Enjoying a real moment together: dancing in your socks together on the new wood flooring that was just installed (slide to the left….)
Do you just want to run up to all your friends and loved ones and give them a great big hug? Are you a touchy feely kind of person, who shows support by pats on the back or soft touches on the arm? These same gestures make you feel cared about, loved and valued. Physical abuse or denying of presence and touch can be destructive to your heart and soul.
Ex: The power of touch: a big giant bear hug when you have collapsed from making the final design decisions on tile.
What is your love language? Your partner’s? Other family and friends? The hardest part of this can be recognizing the primary language of those we love and speaking to them in their language, not our own. This will take some effort, and will be hard at first, but the effort will be well worth it.
So thinking back on the incident that sparked my AHH HAA moment… what would have happened had the couple known about the Five Love Languages? How would using them to speak to one another change their communication in the most stressful situations? I don’t have the answer, but I do know that feeling encouraged, supported, valued can help keep the FOMRD and AP at bay while and they can learn to “climb ev’ry mountain” together, even the formidable mountain of designing and building their dream home.