I love to celebrate milestones; birthdays, anniversaries and holidays. I looked forward to celebrating our 2 year anniversary of being together. Larry and I talked about going out to lunch and doing something special, but nothing had been planned yet.
We were having our morning time together when the subject of how we were going to celebrate our anniversary came up. Larry turned to me and said, “You’re not expecting a gift, are you?” I was taken off guard because I hadn’t thought about it and automatically said, “Oh no.” My #1 language of love is gifts and cards.
We finished our time together and got ready for the day. Something didn’t feel right inside. I thought about an incident that happened with Larry a few weeks ago. I asked him if he would like me to pay for the dance we were going to that night. He said, “No, but it would feel better if you wanted to pay for something to just say, “I would like to treat you tonight.” I understood what he meant and agreed to do that.
At first, I wasn’t going to say anything to Larry about his remark about not expecting a gift, but it felt like an “ouch” and similar to when I asked him if he wanted me to pay for the dance. I decided to bring it up to him and share my feelings. I could feel myself tearing up as we began to talk and I felt childish.
As we talked, I became aware that my emotional upset and tears were not about today but was about my past and being forgotten on anniversaries and birthdays in my marriage. I was surprised because that happened almost 50 years ago and I have done the inner work of forgiveness and letting go. I do know that everything that has ever happened to us is still in our bodies and the original wound can be triggered by a present event.
Larry explained to me what he meant by his remark that it wasn’t that he didn’t want to buy me a gift, it was just that he didn’t know if it was expected because celebrating anniversaries was not something that was important to him and his #1 love language.
It is my belief that we are in relationships to heal one another. Even though I felt very vulnerable, I found myself in his loving embrace and allowed myself to cry and be healed by his love. What was significant for me is that he HEARD me and was willing to love me how I wanted and needed to be loved. Even though it wasn’t important to celebrate the way I did, he was willing to do it for me. That alone was a huge healing.
As I sat to reflect on what happened later in the day, I felt some shame and guilt coming up that my love language was gifts. I love to receive and give gifts. I quickly realized that judging this part of me was not what I wanted to do. I needed to love and appreciate myself and my love language, which I did.
As we finished our discussion Larry said, “I am the bad guy.” I said, OMG (with tears running down my cheeks), you didn’t hear me. YOU ARE THE GOOD GUY. It is your love that is healing deep wounds from my past. I assured him how loved and cared for I felt.
We went about our day and later during the day he said, “I know what I can get you for our anniversary. If you would like, I will buy you new dance shoes.” I smiled and said, “I would love that.” It will be the perfect gift since we both love to dance. I ordered the shoes and will be dancing my little feet off in a few days
I think the experience that Pat shares in this week’s blog shows how different our perspectives can be and why it’s so important to be able to discuss in a rational manner situations that arise when being in relationship.
Celebrating holidays, birthdays, anniversaries and special days are not high on my list of priorities and I have a tendency to just let them go by and sometimes not even notice them. I am so thankful for the life I have and where I live that I welcome every day as a “special” gift.
I know that Pat’s number one love language is cards and gifts. She loves to celebrate holidays, birthdays, and anniversaries. We are in a committed relationship but we have not had a commitment ceremony. It’s important to Pat that there be a day each year that we celebrate as our anniversary, so she picked a date that meant something to her. That’s fine with me but I kind of let her remind me which day it is because it does not resonate as a big thing for me. She’s wonderful about that and has been gently reminding me that the date was coming up and asking how we should celebrate it.
The other day I asked her if she was expecting a gift. What I meant by asking her that was, “Is this a gift giving occasion or will a card and lunch be OK?” Her perspective of what I said is different than my perspective. I suppose we could have wasted time and energy contesting that issue. Instead, we chose to listen and support each other’s perspective in an honest, supportive and loving way. I didn’t criticize or belittle her. I understood her feelings because I know her history. I also felt like I may have let her down by not remembering how important her number one love language is to her. Pat didn’t make me feel like the bad guy. Instead, she communicated that my support and caring love helped her to heal.
Relationships are not easy, we have to give them plenty of attention. There are always opportunities to heal and grow. They’re like planting a garden, one has to constantly water and weed if you want it to be successful.
It seems like we need to love ourselves enough that we don’t just settle for something or if something is bothering us to sweep it under the rug. It is difficult to bring up an unpleasant subject and we have to put our ego aside and discuss the opportunity in a loving and caring way. It’s important to understand that our partner may have a different understanding or perspective of the situation and it isn’t a question of who’s right and who’s wrong, it is just that we are different.
I will try to be as patient as “a soft summer rain” and allow the light of love to show me the way. We will continue our journey together in gratitude, for the gift we are to each other.
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