Growing up, I remember regularly being told how much I was loved—mostly by my Dad.
It’s a Goodchild family thing. We tell each other that we love each other, whether it’s spoken or via text or a message on Facebook.
Growing up, my partner, Kristin, was rarely, if ever told how much she was loved.
It’s a German thing, apparently. Germans don’t take saying “I love you” lightly. The German noun, “Liebe” (love) is a serious word, never used just as a term of endearment or used platonically, with a family member.
Kristin and I have been together for 6 years now. And for these 6 years, I have regularly told her how much I love her. I’ll text her when she’s in the next room, telling her how incredible I think she is. I’ll tell her in the car that I’m so happy I get to have someone like her to share life with. I’ll leave her a note on the fridge thanking her for the delicious lunch she made me. It is important to me that she knows how much I love and appreciate her. I also like to show Kristin how much I love her by doing things for her. Things like cooking or organising a weekend away, or picking up a box of her favourite chocolates on my way back from work.
Over dinner the other evening, after several days of reading interesting articles about ‘Love Languages’, I casually asked Kristin how she likes to receive and show love.
She replied, “I like to know I am loved through physical affection. You know, like an unexpected kiss, or a long hug. Or holding hands when we’re out and about. Or I’d really love it if you stroked my hair or put your arm around me more when we’re watching a film.”
Was my reply.
Actually, it was more like, “Oh?”
I thought about the weekends away. The meals I’ve excitedly made her. All the times she’s returned from a trip away to a clean and tidy house and a sweet/silly note on her pillow. She’s appreciated them, sure, but they’re not actually the ways she likes to know she’s loved.
They’re the ways I like to receive and show love.
And until the other day, it hadn’t occurred to me to ever ask her.
One of my wonderful friends had a very frightening health scare recently. I say ‘had’. It’s still not over, actually, and she’s naturally uncertain and worried and has some big decisions to make. I text her often, letting her know I am thinking about her, offering to fly over to the UK and stay with her and help her in any way I can.
Again, I use my words to show her love and how much she means to me.
And yet the other day, I realised that my texts and offers of help and support might not be ‘enough’ or what she actually needs, and so I asked her, just like I asked Kristin over dinner the other night.
“How can I support you?” I asked her.
And she replied, letting me know how I can support her and what she needs during this time.
Such a simple answer from such a simple question.
And yet so often, it’s a question we forget to ask.
There’s a saying that goes something like, “You teach people how to treat you”, and while I wholeheartedly agree, I also believe that the best way you can teach people how to treat you is by telling them.