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From the Trade Paperback edition.
One of the fundamental differences between men and women is the way they express love. Men are goal-oriented and express love by doing, while women are relationship-oriented and express love by being.
A woman may say "I love you" by touching, stroking, caressing, and talking.
A man, on the other hand, shows love by doing such things as going to work and earning a living.
When a woman thinks about love, she thinks about starlit nights and romantic interludes. When a man thinks about love, he thinks about bringing home enough money to buy spaghetti sauce to put on the table.
A woman wants to be swept off her feet, while a man may think sweeping the front porch does just that.
Women feel. Men do.
We were hung up on these differences for years. "Why can't you show me you love me? I need to feel loved," we'd say.
And our husbands would respond, "What in the world does that mean? What can I do to make you feel loved?"
Notice that our husbands asked what they could do to make us feel loved? They had no idea what we meant because doing is a man's native tongue while feeling is a woman's.
Countless articles and books have been written describing these fundamental differences, yet it wasn't untilwe actually began to take this difference into consideration that we began to notice the ways in which our husbands express love.
Before learning this, when I (Connie) would say to my husband, "I need you to make me feel loved," my husband would respond, "I don't know how to do that if I haven't done it already. They didn't teach that in school, and if they did I was absent that day."
"It is not a hard thing to do," I would retort. And it's not-to a woman. But to a man it is like trying to read a map with no legend.
At some point my weary husband would say, "Besides making you feel cherished, what else can I do?"
What else? What else was there? Nothing-at least as far as I was concerned. I know now that what he was doing all those years was trying to give me exactly what I wanted. He was just doing it in a man's language. Imagine that!
Acknowledge the fact that you and your husband show love in entirely different ways, and appreciate your differences. Begin to look for the ways he shows love that are unique to him. One of the clues is that they will often be action based rather than feeling based.
For example, I (Connie) have learned that Wes shows love by supporting me in whatever I'm involved with, working hard to provide for me and our children, forgiving quickly, and not pressuring me to do things I don't enjoy. For instance, I don't enjoy cooking, and he doesn't make me feel bad that I don't. He's happy to eat whatever I prepare. It's usually very simple, but he always thanks me for preparing it.
My (Nancy) husband, Ray's, love language is seldom verbal. He's not a big hand-holder, either. However, he excels in demonstrating his love by doing things for me. If he has a day off and I'm working, he often cleans the house and has dinner ready when I get home. He calls me every day at work to see if I need anything from the store. As I first wrote these words, I heard him pull into the driveway after getting his car washed. I was ready to greet him, only to watch him pull out of the driveway in my car to have it washed. Knowing that I have a deadline to meet, he told me if I needed any errands run or household tasks completed, he was ready, willing, and able. I've learned that I don't need words when everything he does lets me know he loves me.
When you begin to accept your husband's efforts, you are granting him the uncommon luxury of being himself. What would happen if women stopped expecting men to be more like them? We think one of the first things that would happen is that husbands would feel freer to talk.
Men don't show their love by worrying, fretting, or fussing over someone like women do. They are too busy mowing the lawn, changing the oil, or caulking the air draft around the window. In fact, this is their way of fussing.
They don't wring their hands and wonder if you are okay if it is raining outside when you are driving home. There's nothing they can do about the rain, so what good is it to worry? Women, on the other hand, are expert worriers and worry until either the rain stops or their loved ones arrive home safely. Their worrying seems to be attached to the way they love, even though the worrying serves no purpose and adds nothing to life.
A few years ago, a good friend of ours took her children to visit her parents. On the return trip they encountered an unexpected snowstorm. Traveling was perilous, and she debated whether to stop or go on. She decided to continue. Mile by mile she made her way home. She was exhausted when she pulled into her driveway, and every muscle in her body ached with tension.
She went running into the house to assure her husband that she and the kids were safe. She found him in their bedroom, watching television.
"Honey, we're home, and we're safe!" she exclaimed.
"I'm glad," he responded, giving her a hug and then hugging the kids.
She waited on him to "fuss" over her a bit. He didn't. He asked about the trip and whether they had had fun at her parents'. This baffled her. Surely in just a minute he would tell her how worried he had been and how brave she was. This, however, was not forthcoming.
Finally, she asked, "Were you worried?"
"No," he replied. "You have such common sense-I knew that if the roads were bad you'd pull over, and if they weren't, you'd make it just fine. I trust your judgment completely."
Somehow his response seemed so anticlimactic! She suddenly wished her sense wasn't quite so common. She was disappointed and hurt that he hadn't been glancing out of the window every few minutes to see if they were safely home. She knew not to ask if he'd been pacing or if he'd called the highway patrol to check out road conditions. Worry? What worry?
It didn't mean he loved her less because he didn't worry-it just meant he showed his love differently than she would have given the same circumstances.
Excerpted from How to get your husband to TALK to you by Nancy Cobb Connie Grigsby Copyright © 2001 by Nancy Cobb and Connie Grigsby
Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.