Monday, January 11, 2010

The Mirror Doesn't Lie

If you can't look yourself in the mirror and believe something is true then it is not. If you have to convince yourself of something then don't bother. If you have to wonder if she or he likes you or not, then he or she doesn't. We all look for signs by asking friends their opinion or try the old flower petal trick but the gut always knows the truth. Follow your instincts; it is the best barometer of the truth. I have recently asked for advice on relationship such as, "What does this mean?" or "Why did he do or say this?" We don't always have the reason but we always know when it matters. Most of the time simple answers stare us right in the face and say, "Gotcha!"

We often dance with ourselves and others when we second guess. It takes two to dance but someone always leads. What happened to simply asking? Life is simple yet we make it difficult. I have to believe that there is a reason for everything. Sometimes hindsight is 20/20 but sometime the reasons are never reveled. Next time you wonder "Why?" change the question to "Why not?" Relationships are not science. In science there is a theory and we hope the tests yield proof. It is most often not the case. Even in science sometimes we test over and over while changing all the variables and never find proof. If we did we would already have the cure for cancer, AIDS and broken hearts.

A friend told me that expectations are predestined failures. In true relationships involving love of any kind we say we are sorry more that we ever thought we could. Yet one could argue that such phrases as "I’m sorry." and "I love you." don't hold any water when we use them so freely. We have all heard that actions speak louder than words. Some people are OK with words only and others need to see that there is gold in the bank to back the currency.

In the book The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman you can determine which languages that you require. I will let Chapman define, explain or give his own examples. Below you will find my take on the five languages of love.

1 - Words of Affirmation

Personally I am not the best at this. For some reason I have never been very good at receiving or giving compliments. I have learned that this is important in any relationship whether it is in work, friendship or love. I think my word deficiency stems from what I call the 'selling of words'. A salesman knows his mark and how to sell his product. A pick up artists knows how to elicit favorable responses. So I hear so many people spending words as if money actually grew on trees. Often people use words frivolously. If I give someone a compliment I mean it. I am not saying I use them enough but if you know me when I do it is a big deal. Maybe I feel one must earn a compliment. I do not try to impress or bed feelings with my words. Maybe I choose not to state the obvious. If I know and she knows she is beautiful then why say so all the time. Being selective and creative in compliments shows more effort. Yes, we all want to be verbally rewarded for our actions such as 'Thanks for doing the dishes.' or 'I appreciate you making reservations.' As I learned from reading The Road Less Traveled by Scott Peck, there are many things we know and reading this gives you affirmation that you really do already know them is a tremendous pat on the back and ego booster. If you date, wife or lover puts in the effort to look nice for you then they want to know that you notice and appreciate them. So understand that what you might think they know feels even better when some one else knows it too.

2 - Quality Time

Whether you start to spend time with someone new or you always spend time with someone it is still a lone crowd pleaser to make sure that they know that you will make time for you one on one. Often when kids arrive marriages suffer due to all the focus being on someone new. Even if you already have kids that are already ingrained in your life, you must include them as much as possible in the new adventures so they still feel that they are special to you. Jobs often drain your energy and time but you can turn stress and exhaustion into an outlet and time of sharing. Share a run together, share yard work, share a bottle of wine, and be intimate with each other. External variables outside of a personal relationship need to sometime stay external. Leave work at the office, financial stress can be dealt with tomorrow, get a sitter and have a night out, play ball with your son, take your daughter to a movie, don't always take a date out with a crowd. If you don't make sure the ones you love know that you will always make time for them they will eventually pull away and resent you. Quality Time is personal and quantity of time is not.

3 - Receiving Gifts

This is natural and it exists in many more cultures than our own. We give gifts to show appreciation and to show our love. We also like or receive gifts because it makes us also feel good. As well, we know what it feels like to receive them. A gift can be of tradition, to make peace, to say "I am sorry." or to just say that we were thinking of someone. However, gifts alone are meaningless. Sometimes we substitute gifts for words or quality time. Gifts can be a wonderful display but over gifting can lead to numbness. Gifts are a supplement not a replacement. I had a girlfriend that loved flowers and even though they did not last long, the gift of giving did. As the relationship went on I slacked on my flower giving duty. She began to think I appreciated her less since I was obviously thinking of her less. I think the gifts you expect are the least rewarding for both the giver and receiver. I like to give gifts outside of the expected times such as Christmas, Valentines Day and birthdays. Nothing lights up the face of someone like an unexpected gift. You don't always need a reason or occasion to give. Sometimes the thought of giving means more than the gift.

4 - Acts of Service

This is not always fun but compromise is a key element to healthy relationship. Some things just need to be done even when no one wants to do them. Taking out the trash, mowing the yard, picking up the kids from school, cleaning the bathroom are all good examples. You like football and she doesn't and she likes the ballet and you don't. Don’t ask her to watch every game and she won't ask you to attend every ballet. Although it is healthy to have different interests it is also healthy to sometimes share them. Compromise is not giving up but gaining by sharing. Even if you make a deal that she does dishes and you wash the car, failing to keep your end of the bargain is a failure of commitment. You may not like her family but showing your face now and again can only smooth the waters of what could be a very rocky sea. Don’t ever say, "that wasn't in my job description.' When we do things we do not like for some one else we prove that we are all in. The rewards can be astounding.

5 - Physical Touch

This may seem like the easiest but it is not limited to sexual intimacy. Intimacy can be many things such as a kiss on the cheek, a caress of the hand or a simple touch of lower back. Like the other four this alone can not sustain a relationship. As most of us know by now, most relationships that start physical remain only that or die a quick, swift death. Physical touch can release endorphins that elate our senses. In a long term relationship the loss of this act can estrange the closest of couples. If you lose 'touch' then the mind often wonders to places that it should not be detoured into. It can give birth to insecurities, some of which we never thought we possessed. Boredom is a pitfall in many other ways than physically or sexually. From what I have seen, those that are creative and spontaneous keep physical relationships from damming the stagnant creek and the ecosystem. Explore, share and communicate verbally, for in this area you have nothing and nowhere to hide.

If you can balance these love languages there will never be any questions as to how you feel and there will be no need to convince yourself or anyone else.

by Trey Mitchell

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