Language of Love #1: Words of Affirmation

This series of posts is dedicated to all husbands (in particular, those who do not like to read), including mine. 😛

I was gifted a copy of “The 5 Love Languages” by Gary Chapman when I got married. It’s probably one of the best wedding presents I could have received and I thought it would be great to share snippets of the book, and at the same time, remind myself of the takeaways from the book, as I write. It has greatly changed the way I view my relationship and has been helpful in helping me understand things from ys’ perspective.

I agree there is no manual for a successful marriage and such self-help books are always viewed with a certain level of skepticism. However, I do think that there is value in understanding your spouse’s love language because everyone uses a distinct language to express love.

The idea is this – it is rare that a husband and wife would have the same primary love language and this is the reason why, even though we may think we are expressing love (because you may be speaking your language of love), the message does not get through to your spouse (because that may not be your spouse’s primary language of love). When this happens, you may feel like you are not being appreciated, because your spouse does not seem to be contented or happy, even though in your view, you have already been putting a great deal of effort into the marriage.

“The problem is that we have overlooked one fundamental truth: People speak different languages of love.” – Gary Chapman

The five languages of love are:

  • Words of Affirmation
  • Quality Time
  • Receiving Gifts
  • Acts of Service
  • Physical Touch

Today, I will share a little about Love Language #1 – Words of Affirmation

This language of love is to give verbal compliments or words of appreciation, for example, “You look great in that dress!” or “I am really grateful that you send me to work every morning” or “I really appreciate you preparing baby’s milk and washing the milk bottles everyday.”

Using such verbal compliments are more effective and are greater motivators than nagging words, for example “Can you stop playing with your phone and go make milk for the baby?” I must admit that I am guilty of this almost all the time. 😦 It is human nature to be more motivated to reciprocate when you receive affirmations. It sounds to me like a win-win situation. You compliment your spouse, your spouse feels appreciated and more motivated to help you out (because in every person, there exists a desire to please), and you get the help you need. Everyone is happy.

Another way of showing this language of love is to give words of encouragement “to inspire courage”. Your spouse should be your greatest cheerleader and inspiration! Don’t put your spouse down. Even if you feel that an idea that is brought up is really silly, don’t slam it. Offer your opinions, walk through the idea together and if possible, help to refine the idea.

Kind words should be used to communicate love. The manner in which you speak and the tone you take is important. You should never be careless with your words, no matter how angry you are. I took a long time to learn this. I am a very emotional person, and often, during arguments with my then boyfriend and now husband, I will speak carelessly and say things which I do not mean. The tone I take is usually filled with anger and bitterness.

“A soft answer turns away anger.” – Gary Chapman

Ys on the other hand, is much better at this. I recall an incident from maybe 6 years ago, which still never fails to make both of us laugh.

I was angry about something, but being the typical girl I am, I refused to talk about it, even though I was asked if “everything was ok”. We were having lunch and I was sulking while eating my pasta and feeling angry that he had actually believed that everything was ok (hello?? Dating Tip 101 is that when a woman says everything is ok, things are usually NOT ok.) I was poking my fork into my pasta angrily, when one fusilli landed on the table. He could have reacted negatively but he didn’t. Instead, he asked “are you angry with the fusilli?” I could not help but burst out laughing. The tension had eased and the anger had dissipated.

I have come a long way since then and I make a great deal of effort to exercise discipline with regard to the way I react. These days, when I am angry or when I sense the tension, I resist the urge to “talk things through” because there is a higher possibility of us lashing out at each other with harsh words. Instead, I wait till both of us are in a better mood before broaching the topic. In any case, it is always easier to talk when both parties are calmer and more rational. When we discuss issues, I avoid harsh or accusatory words. When kind words are chosen, instead of reciprocating with additional heat or anger, you will want to hear what the other person has to say and there is a desire to reconcile.

Humble words should be used to communicate love. One should be making requests and not demands. There is a very fine line but it makes a whole lot of difference!

All these may seem so logical that on reading it for the first time, you may think “why do I need a book to tell me all these. Isn’t it all common sense?” Yes, it could be common sense, but the question is how many of us actually put the above into practice?

How about dropping your spouse a compliment or saying something positive to your spouse/partner today? Write a note, send a text message, drop an email or tell this to your kids in front of your spouse. It’s a first step!

Next up…Language of Love #2: Quality Time.

Linking up with A Juggling Mom’s Motivational Mondays.

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Carpe Diem – Young Love from an Old Perspective

I am sharing this piece of writing which warmed my heart. Extracted from the online edition of The New York Times and written by Eve Pell, who is the author of “We Used to Own the Bronx: Memoirs of a Former Debutante.”

The Race Grows Sweeter Near Its Final Lap
By EVE PELL
Published: January 24, 2013

Sam and I dated for two years. Then, when I turned 70 and he 80, we had a joint 150th birthday party and announced our engagement. We married a year later.

We came from very different backgrounds. Sam, a Japanese-American who had been interned in the camps during World War II, worked his way through college and was happily married to his Japanese-American wife for more than 40 years until her death. I grew up as a fox-hunting debutante whose colonial New York ancestors were lords of the manor of Pelham. Typical of my much-married family, I had been divorced twice.

We belonged to the same San Francisco-area running club. He was a rarity — a charming, fit, single man of 77. I wanted to get to know him better.

I devised a plan. Our mutual friend Janet had in her house a small movie theater that seated about a dozen people; she often had parties there. I called her. “This is very seventh grade,” I began. “But I’d like you to invite Sam to one of your screenings. I’ll come to any movie he’s coming to.”

Soon after, she called. “He’s coming on Thursday.”

There were 8 or 10 of us there that evening. After the movie, as we were all standing around and chatting, someone mentioned “The Motorcycle Diaries,” a new film about Che Guevara.

“I’d like to see that,” I said.

“I would too,” Sam said. Short pause. I held my breath. He looked at me. “Would you like to go?”

Squelching the urge to high-five Janet, I said yes. We set a date for the following week; he’d meet me at the theater. But when the day came, our movie was sold out.

What to do? We looked at what else was playing and chose “Sideways.” I have only a vague memory of some plot about men and wine, but a sharp memory of sitting next to Sam. And when “Sideways” was over, we decided that since we hadn’t met our objective, we’d see “The Motorcycle Diaries” another day.

Sam and I began running together. Early on, however, I was faced with a dilemma. At a half-marathon in Humboldt County, he went out fast and was way ahead. But as the miles went by, I crept closer and closer and I could see, from the way he was running, that I had more energy left. What to do? Should I beat him and risk his being resentful? Some men really hate being bested by a woman.

I could slow down and let him beat me, but that would be patronizing to him and make me resentful. Then I thought, “If he gets annoyed that I ran faster, he’s not the man for me.” So I sped up, patted him on the behind, and said, “Come on!” I ran on to the finish and, as it happened, he couldn’t keep up. But I needn’t have worried. Sam didn’t get upset — in fact, he seemed pleased I had run well. And so we grew together.

Sam and I often ate at Chinese restaurants where I received some fortune cookies that truly lived up to their name. Two of my favorites:

“Persevere with your plans and you will marry your love.”

“Stop searching forever. Happiness is just next to you.”

One evening at the movies, after we had been seeing each other for several weeks, I felt his hand on mine. If I close my eyes and concentrate, I can recapture the moment: the dark of the theater, the warmth of his hand, my happiness. One might not expect an old grandmother to feel a surge of romance, but I did, and I knew that his reaching out was a brave gesture. I reciprocated, inviting him in for tea when he took me home. I have a narrow, uncomfortable sofa in my living room, poorly designed for intimacy, but nevertheless that was where we sat, and that was where we kissed before he went home.

There was a complication: I could feel that Sam was conflicted about our budding relationship because of his loyalty to his wife, Betty, who had died six years before. In my younger years I would have felt competitive, as if his love for her meant less for me. Now I knew differently, and one night I spoke my mind.

“I know that you loved Betty very much, and I have great respect for your marriage,” I began. “But I think you have room in your heart for me, too.”

He hugged me and went home.

Several days later he asked, “Are you going to run the 5K in Carmel next week?”

“Yes.”

“Would you like to go together?”

“Yes.” I had no idea what he had in mind, but that became clear a few days later. We were talking after a run; Sam looked bashfully down at his shoes as he said: “I have made a reservation in Carmel for a room with one bed. Is that O.K.?” It was.

I realized that the last time he had been dating was in the early 1950s, before his marriage, and he had entirely missed the change in customs of the ’60s and ’70s. When he began staying over at my house, he always stopped the newspaper at his house so the neighbors wouldn’t know what was going on. But for all his adherence to decorum, he was a true romantic.

A few months later, when we were both in Europe on separate trips, we met in Barcelona. This was a leap. Traveling together in a foreign country would be a more exacting test of our relationship than our jaunts to movies and races. But in this, as in almost everything else, Sam was perfect. When I arrived at our hotel, he was there with wine, chocolates and flowers. For all our anxiety about traveling together, we meshed. On the flight home, Sam declared, “We must never travel separately again.”

From then on, we were well and truly together. We had few outside pressures: He was retired with a comfortable pension; I was a freelance writer with an outside income; our middle-aged children were on their own. We had nothing to do but love each other and be happy. Sam and I did things younger people do — we ran and raced, we fell in love and traveled and remodeled a house and got married.

After the ceremony, we flew to Hawaii. “You must never call this a honeymoon,” he told me. “That way no one can ever say that the honeymoon is over.”

We traveled to Italy to compete in the 2007 World Masters Athletics Championships (what I fondly call “The Geriatric Olympics”), where we both won gold medals in our respective age brackets: 70 to 74 for me and 80 to 84 for Sam. At home, we planted a garden; I finished writing a memoir. Every morning we did push-ups; every evening we sat on the rim of our bathtub and flossed our teeth. He called me “sweetheart.” He never forgot an anniversary, including our first movie date. I gave him flowers on Betty’s birthday.

OLD LOVE is different. In our 70s and 80s, we had been through enough of life’s ups and downs to know who we were, and we had learned to compromise. We knew something about death because we had seen loved ones die. The finish line was drawing closer. Why not have one last blossoming of the heart?

I was no longer so pretty, but I was not so neurotic either. I had survived loss and mistakes and ill-considered decisions; if this relationship failed, I’d survive that too. And unlike other men I’d been with, Sam was a grown-up, unafraid of intimacy, who joyfully explored what life had to offer. We followed our hearts and gambled, and for a few years we had a bit of heaven on earth.

Then one day the tear duct in Sam’s right eye didn’t work, and soon his eye began to bulge. One misdiagnosis and failed treatment followed another until there was a biopsy. A week later his doctor called to say Sam had stage 4 cancer that he would not survive.

There was the agony of Sam’s fight to live, which he waged with grace and courage. Desperate to lessen his suffering, I learned to give hospital nurses $20 Starbucks cards to get special care for him. Every day I brought him bowls of his favorite watermelon balls. But one morning he couldn’t eat even those, and a few hours later he died.

Not only was I happy during my short years with Sam, I knew I was happy. I had one of the most precious blessings available to human beings — real love. I went for it and found it.

I yearn desperately for Sam. But the current pain is very worth it. He and I often told each other, “We are so lucky.” And we were. Young love, even for old people, can be surprisingly bountiful.

The Two Walls

I remember typing this blog post and feeling really excited about the industrial theme we had in mind. The biggest change we made to the apartment is this wall in the dining room, which is the wall leading in from the main door. It was supposed to have been concealed storage space, but we realised that building storage along the wall would add bulk and make the walkway to the living room a lot narrower (imagine dining table with chairs on the left, and concealed storage space on the right as you enter from the front door). So as my interior designer and ys and I sat on our empty apartment floor thinking that weekend in September, we came up with the idea of a feature wall with some shelving for display of knick-knacks. To be in line with our new industrial theme, we decided on a cement screed wall and to break the monotony of the grey wall, which could be overpowering, we incorporated a brick wall into the idea. But because we are not quite fans of everything conventional, we decided we would make a stepped brick wall, which was an idea derived from a lovely design of stairs, which I saw on an interior design website (I’m sorry but I forgot the name of the website and therefore am unable to attribute a source).

This is the end result.

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On the shelves (from top right) 1) an owl which i couldnt resist buying, from Typo 2) the letters J-O-Y, also from Typo, which I used during our family shoot last July, and which are also featured in my blog header, 3) nesting dolls from The Little Drom Store, 4) a lego Maersk Line container ship which YS built (also a Christmas present from me), 5) a “Live Laugh Love” block from Mono Yono, which serves as a reminder to do these three things every single day and 6) gifts from friends including a pretty little prince postcard, a wedding gift from Goods of Desire and a wooden musical box from Italy. All my favourite things! This also has got to be my favourite wall in the house.

Just directly opposite this wall is the wall just beside the dining table. This wall hangs three posters which we ordered online from kwerkee. This is one of our favourite websites for (as the name suggests) quirky stuff which are sourced from all over the world. The posters feature A to Z pictorial depictions of 1980s films, 1990s films and 2000s films. Imagine the A to Z poster which is used to teach kids and which usually has an accompanying picture, for example A for Apple. The letters here represent the first word of a movie from the 1980s, or 1990s or 2000s. We have not compiled a list of all the movies (some are really tough) but I think YL has come quite close to guessing most of them and has even started an answer sheet (thanks YL!). One of my best buys on Kwerkee!

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So there you go! Two of my favourite walls in the home (for now) 🙂

Crazy Christmas Date

It’s starting to feel a lot like Christmas! Especially since I caught Crazy Christmas (a musical) at the esplanade on Friday for date night. I don’t know what took me this long to decide to go for it (it’s held annually and this year is already the 5th year). Anyway, I really loved it! Loved the songs, the dancing, the costumes, the humor, the fact that the entire musical is made up of short unrelated segments (although all with a Christmas theme) and the very talented cast. I’m definitely making it a point to catch it every single year from now on!

On a separate note, it’s 16 days to Christmas!

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9 years of companionship

Today marks the ninth year that ys and I have been in a relationship. It’s also the date we got engaged four years ago. Time really flies! We no longer celebrate this day since we got married but I’m touched that the husband remembered. It warmed my heart and made my day.

Two years on

Happy 2nd anniversary to us! All i can say is time flies like the wind, fruit files like the banana (I know this is lame but its one classic line that came out of the best man speech during our wedding celebration).

Two years ago we were young adults ready to embark on the next phase of our lives together and before we got to figure out how this whole marriage thing works, Aly came along, and in addition to figuring out how this whole marriage thing works, we had to figure out how this parenthood thing works as well.

But whatever it is, I’m glad we are in this together and I’m glad that we are both committed to the promises we made to each other. We have had our fair share of disagreements but I’m thankful that we always made it a point to return to the table to work something out together.

I hope we always remember that no matter how uncoordinated we may be, and no matter how terrible the circumstances may seem to be, we should always find something to laugh about, together, just like that first dance at our wedding which left us looking like fools (since we both have two left feet). But we enjoyed ourselves nevertheless and danced till the end together. And at the end of the day, that’s what is truly important.

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Source: Lightedpixels pixies (Kai)

Let the celebrations begin with…

Brunch at O batignolles, a charming bistro along gemmille lane, which branches out from club street! Perfect way to start the long weekend 🙂

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And a visit to Kki cafe (finally), a cafe on Ann Siang hill which serves the most delightful Japanese cakes. We had wanted to visit the little drom store which shares the same premises as Kki cafe. The little drom store sells quirky vintage knick knacks which will definitely appeal to those born in the late 1970s and early 1980s.

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Have a wonderful Saturday everyone!