My husband, Eric was busy with his latest "home project."
My mom happened to be over here and taking in "el show" as Eric very carefully worked on cleaning the stairs.
He started at the top and carefully swept and brushed each step. He had gone shopping for some Woolite Carpet Cleaner and then used Folex as a backup. All the cat hair, dirt and grime started disappearing. It was quite satisfying to watch the carpet return to its former glory.
Step by step, Eric brushed and sprayed. It took him about a good, long hour.
My mom watched with great interest and some surprise.
"He's doing it all by hand."
"I didn't realize he was so serious about cleaning."
On it went for the next hour. As Eric cleaned each step, my mom commented her surprise.
She had seen him work hard around the house before, but never doing the cleaning. (That's women's work to her, but that's not important right now.)
This scene gave me the opportunity to explain Love Languages to her.
She actually took notes as I explained how we all have different languages to express and receive love.
The following is taken directly from the 5 Love Languages by Gary Chapman website:
Words of Affirmation
Actions don’t always speak louder than words. If this is your love language, unsolicited compliments mean the world to you. Hearing the words, “I love you,” are important—hearing the reasons behind that love sends your spirits skyward. Insults can leave you shattered and are not easily forgotten.
In the vernacular of Quality Time, nothing says, “I love you,” like full, undivided attention. Being there for this type of person is critical, but really being there—with the TV off, fork and knife down, and all chores and tasks on standby—makes your significant other feel truly special and loved. Distractions, postponed dates, or the failure to listen can be especially hurtful.
Don’t mistake this love language for materialism; the receiver of gifts thrives on the love, thoughtfulness, and effort behind the gift. If you speak this language, the perfect gift or gesture shows that you are known, you are cared for, and you are prized above whatever was sacrificed to bring the gift to you. A missed birthday, anniversary, or a hasty, thoughtless gift would be disastrous—so would the absence of everyday gestures.
Acts of Service
Can vacuuming the floors really be an expression of love? Absolutely! Anything you do to ease the burden of responsibilities weighing on an “Acts of Service” person will speak volumes. The words he or she most want to hear: “Let me do that for you.” Laziness, broken commitments, and making more work for them tell speakers of this language their feelings don’t matter.
This language isn’t all about the bedroom. A person whose primary language is Physical Touch is, not surprisingly, very touchy. Hugs, pats on the back, holding hands, and thoughtful touches on the arm, shoulder, or face—they can all be ways to show excitement, concern, care, and love. Physical presence and accessibility are crucial, while neglect or abuse can be unforgivable and destructive.
We discussed how different people in our family show their love. She commented that as much as she likes gifts, she would really rather have someone spend time with her. She even took notes on this. (I thought that was very cool. She'll be 97 next week and she was excited to learn something new. Amazing.)
Anyway, back to the stairs...
I explained that since I've been struggling with my health lately, Eric has felt a bit helpless.
So cleaning the stairs, step-by-step, is really his way of showing concern and saying, "I love you." It's an Act of Service.
I could tell by the look on her face that this bit of information finally connected for her. (I think that's when she started calling him "San Eric.") ;-)
All I know is that as I go up and down my stairs in the course of my day, I am reminded with each step that my husband loves me.
I love you, too, Honey.
Happy Valentine's Day.