On Love and Valentine's Day
It all started at the beginning of December. Or maybe late November. Both of us were having medical issues, and not just small problems. Both of us had standing orders to go straight to the Emergency Room if we experienced X, Y or Z. Both of us were tending to our own needs and wrapped up in our own struggles. Neither of us felt supported by the other.
And then we had Malcolm. There is sleep deprivation, unpredictability and a whole lot of stress associated with having a newborn. It did not bring us closer. We got nit-picky. We certainly weren't rude to each other, but we weren't kind either. You see, Shawn and I have complementary memories - it normally works really well for us. He remembers all the important things (like where his wallet is and usually how to find mine, our anniversary date, taking the keys out of the front door after its unlocked, etc) and I remember all the unimportant things (like that bathrooms have to be cleaned, where to find the newborn booties in the crawl space, etc.). But this winter, these sorts of things became more like a wedge than qualities that encouraged us to work together.
It all came to a head a few weeks ago. I decided to start greeting him with joy every morning and when he came home from work, no matter what kind of night I'd had with the baby or how frustrating my day with my kids had been. But, in my typical introverted (some might say passive aggressive) way, I didn't tell him about my little social experiment and was shocked when it didn't change his language towards me. In the bathroom, over a particularly long toothbrushing session, I broke down in front of him, and we talked. His whole body slackened: "you're right, Sasha, we've been so negative. I'm sorry and I'm going to do better." I said the same.
So, we did. You know that whole "fake it 'til you make it" mantra? Well, it felt contrived the first few days, but then it became real. We faked it until we got back on our feet together. I feel supported and understood again, for the first time in months. He feels the same.
We don't normally "do" the whole Valentine's Day thing, mostly because of me: I just don't buy into the whole commercialization of love scenario that seems to bombard us in the weeks leading up to the "big" day. This year though, I got it. I needed to do something for him to affirm him. So I surprised him with a few of his favourite things. (None of which came in red tin foil or had heart motifs; I can only go so far.) And wouldn't you know, he surprised me by covering our house in Post-It love notes the night before, so when I woke up with the baby before everyone else, I would find all these positive messages waiting for me.
This week, we took the 5 Love Languages quiz after a friend had mentioned it to me. It is a series of questions that help you identify the way you best interpret that someone is communicating love to you. For example, if someone's love language is Physical Touch, than holding hands or a pat on the shoulder would lead them to feel loved and secure. Both of us got almost the exact same profile: Words of Affirmation. I was surprised, especially at his, but it makes a lot of sense. No wonder our nit-picking left us feeling isolated from one another, and of course using positive language helps us feel more loved.
So I will say it here and now, publicly (or at least in front of my 5 followers), because he deserves the affirmation: I love Shawn. He is a admirable father. He a good man.