Valentine’s day is Sunday, so I felt it was very appropriate to take a week off of motherhood and to dive into marriage. Remember that thing that we may have put on the back burner.

I just woke up from a terrible dream. I asked Seth if he loved me in my dream and he gave me an, “Eh?” look. The look of, “not really anymore.” It pains me to even write this down. In my dream the kids were in and out of our bedroom and I couldn’t even have a conversation with him. Seth was all about the kids needs in my dream and didn’t really care what I wanted. I’m wondering if that’s how I make him feel? Seth read this and laughed that he is not the one who puts the kids first. He wasn’t attracted to me anymore in my dream and he wasn’t sure if he wanted to continue with our marriage. I woke up crying and went straight to my computer. You see, if I don’t write down my dream right away, by the time I go to write it down or type it I won’t remember everything. Unfortunately, right now, it’s ingrained in my head.

I woke up wondering why on earth I had this dream. Sometimes my brain decides to work out my worst fears in my dreams. I need to go to bed on a happy note. We were snappy to each other in the kitchen before bed and I think I went to bed on a sour note. As I asked the question about my terrible dream, I think the answer came to me. If we make it all about the kids, it becomes all about the kids. Our marriage gets pushed to the back and eventually fades if we don’t make it a priority. I felt like it was a jolt to me to remind me how important my marriage is. I think some couples think the kids come first. They think that they are being good parents making the kids the priority. However, that is not the case at all. Our marriages come first. The kids come second. Read that again and try to process that as I remind myself of this. Our marriage is the foundation of the family. Our kids want us to prioritize our marriage. They want us to make time for each other. They want us to be nice to each other. Our kids want us to have a good marriage. They may cringe when we kiss in the kitchen but inside, they love it. They love seeing their parent’s hug. They love knowing that we are in love. If we don’t remember our marriage, the kids will move out one day and we will wonder who this spouse is that we have neglected all these years.

I just read Men are from Mars and Women are from Venus and I started reading The 5 Love Languages. Most of you have probably heard about both of these books. Men are from Mars and Women are from Venus gave me a better understanding of Seth. If you feel like you want to understand the opposite sex better than it is a good book for you. I don’t know that it is that cut and dry. They talk about men going into a cave and Seth will tell you I do the same thing. I find that sometimes I need time to think and get my thoughts and feelings in order. Sometimes I am so hurt that I just need some time to myself and I don’t want to talk to Seth. I think the big thing is to be aware of our needs and be able to communicate them to our partner. I need to say to Seth, “I need some time to think and collect myself. I’ll be back to talk.” I’m cancer the crab and I think sometimes I go hide in my shell.

The book taught me about Seth needing time for himself. Sometimes I find that Seth is off in, “Seth land,” as I call it in my head. The book helped me understand that he needs that time, and that after he gets some time, he will miss me and want to spend time with me. He’s a very busy man.   He wasn’t so happy when we were all stuck home, and he was working at home. I actually found it nice to see him. Between working, Krav Maga, and driving Max all over town to soccer, I haven’t seen him much lately which might have something to do with my dream. I laugh at my friends who want space from their husbands. I think space is healthy. I think we all need space. It’s just been a lot of space lately. We have three kids in three directions and that makes it even more important that we carve out time for each other. Tonight, we squeezed in a quick dinner before Seth was off with Max and I took Ella to theater. We just came back together at 9:00 at night.

The book also reminded me of the indirect communication that women have been known to use. We need to learn to be direct and ask for what we want. Leaving Seth guessing and trying to read between the lines isn’t fair to him. He has learned how to decode me sometimes, but why should he have to. Instead of saying, “The garbage is really full.” Why don’t I be direct and say, “When you have a moment, can you please take the garbage out.” That is direct and clear communication. Instead of saying, “It’s been so long since you have taken me on a date?” Why don’t I be direct and say, “I miss alone time with you. Can we please plan a date night?” I was reminded to be clear and direct in my communication.

There are so many lessons we can learn about each other. I learned that men don’t tend to like us to give unsolicited help. It makes them feel like we don’t have confidence in them. When women have a problem, we like to share and talk and feel like our spouse is listening. We don’t always want them to jump to solving the problem. I think sometimes we want to feel heard more than we want to solve it. I don’t want to do any gender generalizing and I know this doesn’t apply to everyone. I do strongly encourage reading the book.

I took the 5 Love Languages quiz last night (so did Seth), and Seth didn’t believe my results. He says my top need is acts of service. I don’t disagree. He thinks that I feel the most loved when he helps me. When he puts gas in my car, drives a child somewhere, does the dishes, or my favorite is when he shows up with a coffee. Coffee would go under the gift category. My highest score last night was affection which perplexed my husband.

Seth sliced open his finger with a sharp knife recently (be careful everyone) and had to get stitches. He has been in a lot of pain over the past week, and the last thing he is thinking about is affection towards his wife in any shape or form. I’m even nervous to hold his hand and grab the wrong hand. He has also been very busy driving Max to soccer after work, so I haven’t seen him much. I guess in missing him affection crept up on my needs list. I think it is a fluid concept. What is going on in your life and what do you need more of? I have also really been trying to pull more weight at home in an effort to give him less to do with his hand. I feel so bad for him. Trust me, I’m not worried about me right now. I just want him to heal up and feel better. He really hurt himself. No offense Cutco, but this is why I don’t like sharp knives. I’ll stick to using my dull knives that I love and feel safer with.

I encourage everyone to read The 5 Love Languages. Seth pointed out to me a while ago that acts of service is not what he needs. It may be one of my top needs, but it isn’t his. He needs words of affirmation. Seth is all about auditory processing. He wants me to tell him how I feel, he wants praise, he wants me to mean what I say. Sometimes I can just say things out of anger and that really disturbs him. He has taught me that I really need to work hard at thinking before I speak.

As I was walking Tanner yesterday outside in the freezing cold, my head started to drift to the amazing work we are doing together and how thankful I am for Seth. I started the blog, but he suggested the vlog. He also is the one who suggested my podcast, my books and is now encouraging me to do more as his lists go on and on with ideas for me. He makes my head spin and continues to impress me with his business brain. I was feeling so loved and appreciative towards Seth and it was at that moment I realized what he was saying. I think wonderful thoughts about Seth all the time, but I don’t always tell him. He wants to hear it. Find out what your spouse needs most so you can give it to them. Do we really know what our spouse’s top needs are? Seth needs to hear my love, so I definitely need to work on that.

What are the five love languages?

Words of Affirmation – verbal compliments, words of appreciation. Seth’s top need. Ask your spouse what they love to hear from you. Don’t assume that you know what they like to hear you say to them!

Quality Time – Undivided attention – ask your spouse what they want to do with you. Don’t assume that you know what counts in their mind. If we are sitting next to each other watching a movie, that counts for me. Your spouse may want a conversation as quality time. Ask questions.

Receiving Gifts – What gifts does your spouse love to receive? I love jewelry, flowers, coffee, chocolate. Seth would tell you he loves magic tricks and books. Jewelry to me is magic tricks to Seth. Ask your spouse what their favorite gifts are! What do they like to receive? I LOVE when Seth shows up with coffee. That makes me feel very loved and shows me he was thinking of me.

Acts of Service – Doing things for each other. Seth thinks this is my top need. I love when he fills my car with gas, does the dishes, sets the table, takes out the trash, cleans the cat litter…..I feel loved and helped. I feel like I have a partner. He doesn’t really care about this in return from me. This isn’t what he would say he needs from me. If this is your partner’s love language, get specifics from them. We can’t read each other’s minds. Ask what they like you to do.

Physical touch – If this is your partner’s love language, ask for specifics. Seth hurt his hand, so he hasn’t been touching me much at all. I can feel the withdrawal. I’m used to him touching my arm, holding my hand, trying to get closer, giving me hugs, grabbing a kiss….I’m used to all of that and I take it for granted. I love when I’m sitting on the couch and Seth comes and sits as close to me as he can get. I love when he reaches for my hand. Ask questions and gather the information so that you can adequately meet your partner’s needs. Ask them how many times a week they want to have sex. Don’t assume that you know the answer to this important question if you haven’t asked. I usually find that couples don’t agree on this topic. Come to a compromise. Connect with each other. It’s an important part to your relationship.

There is also a book The 5 Love Languages of Children. That will definitely be on my list to read next. I would love to learn more about my children’s love language. I want my husband to feel loved and I want my children to feel loved too. I think this is an important concept for any relationship. What does your daughter need from you to feel loved? What does your mother need? What does your friend need?

Remember back in the day when it was just you and your spouse. Do you remember all the attention you gave each other? Do you remember all the time you spent together? Don’t forget about them. Let’s not put our relationship on the back burner. Let’s not let our marriage get lost in the hustle and bustle of parenthood. I am going to go tell my husband how much I love him. I know he loves words of affirmation. I hope you will go find out what love language your spouse needs the most and I hope you will make an effort to give that to them. A happy marriage is the foundation to a happy family.

Wishing all you busy parents a very Happy Valentine’s day.

Laughing, Learning, Loving,

Rebecca Greene, LCSW-R