“I love you”. It’s is something that my husband says to me quite often.
You see, looking back on my childhood, I can honestly say that I can’t remember hearing my father tell me that he loved me, not ever. I had always been his little buddy. We hung out, ate sunflower seeds and spit out the shells, we laughed, he let me do things my mother would never let me do! We had a special bond, all with out ever saying “I Love You”. Then, one day, it stopped. I realize now, that I had started to “develop” and I believe his feelings were conflicted about what type of affection was appropriate, not that he was ever inappropriate. I think he just felt I was now a young lady and needed to be treated as such. But I didn’t see that then, I just knew that for some reason, he no longer reached for my hand when we crossed the street and I was no longer welcome to sit with him in his recliner at night when we watched t.v. I simply felt abandoned and suddenly, unloved. So, when I met and married a man that seemed to actually say the words…”I love you”, I thought I had found “Mr. Right”. What I neglected to see, about my father and about my husband, was the actions behind the words. I failed to see “I love you” when, my father handed the keys to his brand new car, to my boyfriend, Mike, because Mike had just crashed his truck while on the way to pick me up for my Senior Prom. I didn’t see it when, I was 22 and my father came over at 2 am because I heard a noise the first night at my new place. Or when he came over and climbed under my house to fix a leaky pipe. Or when he came all the way down to my work, got my car keys, found my car in the underground parking, drove it out and put 4 new tires on it, brought it back, paying the $5.00 parking fee again and somehow managed to get the same parking space, so I would be safe driving home after my shift was over at the hotel at midnight. I didn’t see the love when he bought me a used Pontiac Fiero, because he said I would “look cute behind the wheel”. I didn’t see the way he looked at me when I told him and my mom that I was engaged or when I told them I was having a baby of my own. I missed all that love from my father, simply because it wasn’t coming in the form of empty words. We are all so conditioned to have to hear the words to believe we are loved. He was brought up in a time where affection wasn’t proper. So, he didn’t show his love by saying it, it came from his heart through his actions. All the different ways he, tried so hard, to take care of me and give me what I needed.
On the other hand, my husband, can say the words quite easily, to easily. He seems to think the statement is a band aide for what ever pain he has caused. “I love you”, Yet… with all that “love”, he has lied to me, cheated on me, called me names and screamed at me and generally made me feel horrible. He can’t seem to communicate his own needs or even attempt to meet my most basic ones. He has let me down more times than I can count. Yet… he is quick with the “I love Yous” when the moment seems to require it and he honestly seems to think that makes everything all better.
What I have realized is that the word’s…”I love you”, must translate the feeling of love, to the person you love in a way that they can understand and feel. Everyone feels love differently, so you must communicate it in their preferred language. Loving someone means that you must actively nurture that person’s emotional, physical and spiritual needs and well being, through your actions. Saying “I love you”, without loving behavior makes the words empty and useless.
Today, my parents babysat my 2 year old daughter, Sammi, who by the way, looks exactly like me when I was her age. When I came to pick her up and we were getting ready to leave, she ran to my Dad, her “Papa”, to say good by and give hugs and kisses. That was when I heard my father say the actual words, “I love you, Sammi”. My eye’s welled up and my heart swelled with pride and love, for him. I have no doubt, whatsoever, that my father loves her and me, he always has, with all his heart. At the age of 67, he is learning. He is now able to speak those words, to his granddaughter (and me) in both languages of love, the words and the actions. His love shows with hugs and kisses and piggyback rides around the house. It shows in the way he lights up when she runs to him, her arms open wide so she can be scooped up by him. It shows in the way he looks at me when he tells me how cute she is and how sweet she is and how much she reminds him of me when I was little. He shows his love by his actions and just in case she doesn’t understand that, he has learned to also tell her. Love is like a foreign language, you must learn to translate it in a way that the other person can understand. So, whoever you love, however you demonstrate that love, try to make sure it’s in the way that the other person can see it, hear it, know it, feel it. It may be different from how you need to be shown, so help them understand your language also. But, whatever you do, make sure they understand. Don’t let another day go by without making sure that the people you love, really know that they are loved.