My husband and I met in college in criminal courts and procedures class. I had previously met him through a mutual friend, so on the first day of class when I saw him I decided to sit by him. A few weeks later, I invited him to study group. We became friends and started hanging out outside of class. Later that summer, we had summer school classes in the same building. One day I suggested we should go running together after class. We did and running through the hill country trail which ended at the famous San Marcos Sewell Park became our summer morning ritual. One day, in the middle of our run, we ran into a friend of his who seemed surprised to see him running. After a couple minutes of small talk his friend said, “I guess you are into two a days”. I was puzzled but at the time didn’t say anything. Later when I finally asked him about it, he told me him and his friend had been getting up every morning at 5:00am to run and train for their summer deployment. When I asked him why we would agree to run with me again only a couple hours later, he simply said, because you asked me to. Even though we weren’t yet dating, this was the first time I realized my husband loved me. We no longer run together through the sprawling hills of San Marcos. Let’s be honest, I couldn’t keep up then and I for sure couldn’t keep up now. Despite giving up our college ritual, my husband has never stopped demonstrating how much he loves me. He demonstrates his love through service. He is constantly serving me, our son, our dogs, our family. He cleans the house, he cooks meals, he tends to the yard, all while also putting his life on the line and serving his community as a police officer. I have never once heard him complain about any of it. He enjoys doing those things. He enjoys showing his love through his acts of service to others. Although he has never waived in his love and service to me, I don’t always feel loved by him. In fact, knowing someone loves you and feeling loved by them are two different things.
Although we both graduated with criminal justice degrees, after college my husband didn’t go into law enforcement. He went the opposite direction and took a job at a bank. I took a job as a probation officer and we settled into regular life of working during the day and spending evenings together. Four years later, my husband decided he wanted to change careers and become a police officer, I wasn’t surprised. I knew a desk job wasn’t fulfilling to him. When he decided to do it, I was 100% on board with the decision. When he got hired on to a police department, we were thrilled he had finally landed his dream job. Life was good, but not for long. This decision had some unintended consequences.
Shortly after him becoming a police officer, he started working longer hours and different shifts. I still worked my day job so we saw each other less and less. We would rarely spend time together. For the first time, I was alone in the evenings and at night. Although I knew he loved me, I started to feel unloved and lonely. I didn’t know what had changed. He hadn’t changed. I hadn’t changed. But the way I felt in our marriage had changed. After several months of feeling this way, we had an argument where, in anger, I blurted out, “I feel you don’t love me anymore.” Offended by my accusation, he replied back with, “Everything I do is for you. I don’t see how you don’t get it.” It went round and round like this until we were too upset and too hurt to go on. We decided to agree to disagree. Misunderstood by him, I recounted this story to friends actually complaining about how much he cooks and cleans, Some thought I was crazy, but several of them suggested I read the book, The 5 Love Languages.
I did and I found out my love language is quality time. Which means, I receive and feel love by spending quality time with people. I crave and need quality time with my husband, my son, my friends, and my family. If I don’t get what I perceive to be quality time from them, I don’t feel loved. I have learned quality time means something different to everyone. It meant something different to both my husband and I. It has several different meanings in my family. To me, quality time means spending uninterrupted time together. It means prioritizing being together over anything else. If you hadn’t guessed, my husband’s love language is acts of service. After learning this about ourselves and each other, we were able to have a rational conversation about what we needed from the other person in order to feel loved. We have each had to work on it. I have had to learn how to serve my husband more. Which I can be honest, I am not the best at. On the other hand, he has had to learn how to stop doing things and just spend time with me. We have had to schedule nights where we sit down and do nothing else except talk to each other. Sometimes, it is hard for him but he does it because knows I need it. Learning our love languages and applying them to our relationship was a game changer and a life-saver to our marriage but life soon changed. After becoming a full time working mom, I craved to have quality time as a family. Our opposite work schedules limited this. After many discussions, we decided I would quit working and I would stay home for a couple years while I completed my graduate degree. We now enjoy family days during the week. My husband and I have reconnected and have enjoyed a lot of quality time. My son and I have quality time in abundance. Life should be all good right? For the most part it is. There are so many things I love about being home but I still feel something is missing. What is that saying, the grass is always greener on the other side?
Currently, I am a stay at home mother, police wife, and online graduate student. The days my son goes to pre-school, I spend behind a computer. My family doesn’t live down the street. We are spread out across the country. My closests friends live several hours away. I no longer work, so I don’t have a set of co-workers to go to lunch with and discuss our shared experiences everyday. I miss that. I long to go back to work. I do friends. It’s hard to find time to hang out. When we do, I talk about myself the entire time. Who wants to hang out with a person like that? I have other stay at home mom friends but we don’t have playdates every day because… well life. Kids gets sick, then we get sick, our husbands work opposite schedules, our kids are on opposite schedules. I have school work to do. We all have long lists of chores and errands to do. I am alone or alone with my son A LOT. It is nobody’s fault, it is life. And this is the life I wanted. The life I chose. The life I still want, I just never realized it would be so lonely.
I’ve tried to put myself out there. I’ve given my phone number to moms at the doctor’s office and to other mom’s in my son’s preschool class and said let’s get together. I talk to other mom’s at Chick-fil-A. I go to church. I’ve joined the gym. I’ve joined a book club. I’ve signed up to serve at church. I sell oils. I’ve volunteered at a non-profit I’m passionate about. There is always something that stops me from following through. My son gets sick. My husband works the weekend of the events. I can’t find a babysitter. I get sick. I have papers to write. Trying to do it all becomes too stressful to manage. It is always something. I’ve been so discouraged. Why would God give me the need to spend quality time with people and then make it impossible for me to do so? My family comes to visit and we don’t have my definition of quality time. I get angry and lash out. That’s counterproductive.
Last year, I did join a bible study. I went sporadically when I could find a babysitter or when my husband was off. Then I dropped out. Again, figuring out how to get there every week was too stressful. But, I crave and need quality time with other women so this year I decided to try again. I asked them if they would consider having bible study at my house so I could still attend when my husband is working. To my surprise they said yes! The first few weeks were great. Then, as usual, life happened again. My son’s tee-ball practices get scheduled for the same night. Since tee-ball started, I haven’t gone. This week, I had forgotten bible study was scheduled to be at my house until my friend texted the day of. When we got home from tee ball practice, she was already there. Thankfully, she played with my dogs and setup the video while I frantically gave my son a bath and got him ready for bed. Overwhelmed and stressed, I was half listening and half contemplating dropping out again when we started discussing what our next study should be. My friend brings up a study about feeling alone, on the outside, unloved, and how God can heal us and fill that need. Before I even think I blurt out, “I want to do that study!” It amazes me how God always brings me what I need when I need it. Most often when I least expect it. We spend the rest of the evening talking about my recent struggles with feeling lonely and unloved. They listened, they empathized, they loved on me, and then they gave me biblical guidance. I felt heard, affirmed, validated, and loved. And in that space, I was able to recognize the error of my ways.
I can’t control that my love language is quality time. However, I can control where I try to find fulfillment for it. I’ve been seeking it out in my worldly relationships. My husband, my son, my family, my friends, my job, my school, and in my commitments. By staying busy. In things I thought I could control to give me what I need, make me feel loved, and whole. When they don’t, I get disappointed, discouraged, and angry. Maybe God has put so many obstacles in my way to make me finally realize I need to turn to him for my quality time. Just as I crave quality time with the people in my life, God has been craving quality time with me. I’ve been looking for a constant companion not realizing I have one lying in wait. I spend time with God when I have time, but I’ve never made it priority. I always get too busy, overwhelmed, stressed, and forget about it. It’s time to change that. My faith, my relationships, and my sanity depend on it. So, I’ve decided to no longer let my desire to feel loved and included through quality time with others to control how I view my marriage, my family, and my friendships. Instead, I am going to look for God for fulfillment and spend some quality time with him. So over the course of the next few weeks, I am going to commit to doing this study every week and spend time in God’s word. No matter how busy I get. I’m going to have Faith that if I spend quality time with God, he will provide the time, and the energy, for me to do everything else. I might just find God speaks my love language.
If you are like me and feel misunderstood and unloved, I invite you to join along and do the Uninvited bible study with me. God just might speak your love language too.