They’re your partner. Your person. Your lover. Your friend. You’d do anything for them, right? Of course. But if you think granting an esteemed title to the person who shares your every up and down (and each moment in-between) is enough to certify their status as number one in your book, well, you and I might have something in common.
As it turns out, and as I have learned over the course of eight years of marriage, what signifies gratitude and inclusivity by one person won’t necessarily be interpreted the same way by their partner. And the road to sleeping in separate beds on separate floors on occasion is paved with well-intentioned methods of showing your appreciation.
To spare you the same lessons (or perhaps to inspire your already-rock solid relationship) here are a few different ways to convey your trust, your thanks, your love, and your affections for someone who may speak a slightly different love language than you do.
All In Good Time
My husband and I fancy ourselves incredible multitaskers; our morning routine is carefully calibrated to include a small child on one hip regardless of task. (Putting on makeup? Check. Making coffee? Check. Once it even included a shower.) After dinner, when the kids are blessedly passed out, we typically unwind on one social media platform or another until we, too, drift off into oblivion. It doesn’t make for great quality time; neither one of us truly gets the undivided attention we need to vent about the day, share exciting news, or simply check in. But putting down the phone, turning off the television, and climbing into bed to talk is a really easy way to make your partner feel heard, even during your busiest times.
Difficulty Level: 2
Treat Yo Spouse
Admit it: there are times when nothing says “you have my deepest gratitude,” like a token of your esteem. A thank you note, for example. Or that little thing they wanted from the one place that you vetoed at the time, but man they’d be surprised if it showed up on the fireplace. In our house, it might be as simple as throwing my husband’s favorite cookies into the shopping cart during a mid-week grocery run with our son. Packing his lunch on a day I know he’s probably going to be running late to get out the door. Or warming up his car on a particularly cold morning. It’s the thought that counts (truly) and it all goes a long way toward acknowledging his efforts.
Difficulty Level: 3
Just Say The Word
Unless one of you can honestly say you’re clairvoyant, verbalizing your gratitude is one of the most important things you can do, regardless of your partner’s preferred love language. When we say “Hey, have I told you how much I love you yet today?” or “I really appreciate you getting the kids dressed this morning while I showered,” we aren’t leaving our nonverbal cues open to interpretation. Thank you. There. Done. I must have reason to tell my husband ohmygodthankyou at least 30 times a day, but probably only say it once or twice. My early New Year’s resolution is to begin telling him exactly what’s great about him or his actions right as their happening.
Difficulty Level: 1
Actions Are Louder
For some — myself included — actions are louder than words. If someone truly wants to say thank you, they’ll take one of the thousand to-dos off my plate (or at least not add something to the list). To me, putting a work bag in the office instead of dropping it by the backdoor demonstrates respect for the time I’ve spent cleaning the kitchen. To my husband, putting an empty glass in the dishwasher, folding the clean laundry as soon as it comes out of the dryer and not three days later when it’s all wrinkled, or having a cup of hot chocolate ready for him when he comes inside from hanging the Christmas lights when it’s 18 degrees, are all good examples.
Difficulty Level: 4
Hug It Out, Bitch
Big surprise: for my husband, physical contact is probably number one. Holding hands. Sharing a kiss when we leave for work in the morning. A hug at the end of the day. Even sitting next to each other while we scroll through our phones or catch up on Top Chef. Sex, too. It’s important. It’s reassuring. It reaffirms our physical connection and makes him feel desired, even if it never goes beyond cuddling. Need help getting started? With both of us always needing to be on the lookout for small children throwing the Apple remote into the toilet or teetering near the top of the stairs, I’d wager days have gone by without either one of us truly looking the other in the eyes for longer than three seconds. Start there. Every little bit counts.
Difficulty Level: 3
Top image via Jaicee Morgan
Kate Smith is a content producer for a beloved Minnesota retailer, wife to Fred and mother to Samson (6) and Naomi (3). With her allotted 30 seconds of daily free time, Kate likes to make a frozen Tom Collins, grab her new book on nurturing adult friendships and pretend she can’t hear her family knocking on the other side of the bathroom door.
BY Kate Smith - November 24, 2017
Thank you for being here. For being open to enjoying life’s simple pleasures and looking inward to understand yourself, your neighbors, and your fellow humans! I’m looking forward to chatting with you.