The first thing I do in the morning, when Cindy wakes up, is to tell her that I love her. With emphasis and enthusiasm, I say, “I love you soooooo much!” Then the last thing I do before we go to sleep is tell her how much I love her and how much I appreciate her, “I’m so grateful that you’re my wife. I’m so happy that I get to spend my life with you.”
Throughout the day, whenever I think of her, I tap out a quick text on my phone, “xxoxoxoxxoxxoxxoxoooxxoxoxxoxo.” It takes me a few seconds. Other times, I check-in with her and tell her how much I appreciate something she’s done, “I really appreciate that you cleared out the sink last night. It was so much easier for me to make the coffee this morning. Thank you.”
When I see her, I feel excited, and I smile (overpowering my natural asshole-resting-face), and I rush to her and throw my arms around her. I encase her in a hug, nuzzle my face into her neck, and whisper, “You sweet thing! You’re so adorable to me that it’s overwhelming!”
If I’m focusing on something, say working at my desk or on the computer, and she comes to me, I stop what I’m doing and I look in her eyes and I listen attentively to what she’s saying. I pat my leg, inviting her to sit on my lap. Then she tells me about what she did and I respond, “That’s amazing! That’s so cool. I think you’re doing a really good job.” Because she is.
If she does something that irritates or annoys me, I notice that I’m feeling irritated or annoyed and I validate and soothe myself: “I’m feeling irritated,” I say internally, and I remember that it’s not her fault; I am having a reaction. Then I take a deep breath, and I allow all of the tension to slide off me, and then I return my attention to her and I say, “I love you so much. I notice how much care you’re putting into making that amazing food. I bet it’s going to be delicious.”
I know that Cindy’s attachment style is predominantly anxious-preoccupied, which basically means that there is no limit to how much loving I can throw at her. She will never tire of being reminded that I love her. In fact, she has a deep and intense need to be continually reassured of my love. As I continue to fulfill this need, she is internalizing me and learning to carry a constant feeling of being loved within her. On the other hand, this level of love lavishing is not natural for me. Even though I may now have secure attachment, I tend towards an anxious-ambivalent style, which means that I tend to shy away from too much loving, and assume that others do too. I also tend to appear to forget about my relationships, becoming immersed in work and other urgent activities. Therefore, I have to focus on this and make a conscious effort to develop skills in this area. But the extensive positive effects on Cindy are reinforcing my behavior and I am developing a habit of showering sweetness onto Cindy.
I also know that Cindy’s primary love languages are words of appreciation and physical touch. Because of this, I am able to consciously and confidently direct my efforts at expressing my love and appreciation through channels that I know she is tuned in to. I am naturally predisposed to express my love through acts of service, and I do these too, but I have learned that these are not received with as much weight as the words and the touching. I take out the trash, replace the five-gallon water bottle, tidy our space, do the laundry, and repair various things. Cindy appreciates all of this, but I have come to understand that she doesn’t really comprehend how deeply these actions express my love for her, and my expectation of appreciation has diminished. I now perform these actions because I know that they are important and I am able appreciate myself for them. Giving love by words and touch, though not natural for me, is a very low cost for me, and I find the resulting outpouring of love and appreciation in return more than compensates me.
Cindy also loves surprises. So now I regularly plan surprises and sometimes I let her know about them: “We’re going somewhere in the evening next Wednesday. Make sure you’re ready by 6 pm.” She gets super-excited, like a child waiting for Santa. She asks me, “Are we going to see flamingos? Are we going to see dolphins?” From this I can add to the “surprises” note on my phone, “Flamingos, Dolphins” for future reference. And then I ask her, “How come you love flamingos?” She tells a story about going to the zoo as a kid and loving the flamingos; one of the rare pleasant experiences of her childhood. This is making me cry as I write it.
I don’t know what love language it is, but Cindy feels loved when I have curated surprises for her. I have talked with her about this and confirmed it. I can literally convey my love to her by planning surprises. I can also parlay that positive affect into additional goodnesses by reminding her of it regularly: “Are you looking forward to our special, secret trip next week?” To which she responds by grinning wildly and hugging me like a tree.
As the months and then years have progressed, and I have continued to lavish love on my lady, day in and day out, I have noticed the change in us both. I have become more automatically and naturally expressive of my love by words and touch, and Cindy had naturally increased her ability and desire to reciprocate both in words and touch and also in acts of service.
Having a partner that is almost always positive about me, always caring, always emotionally available, is the most effective and powerful foundation for success that a hominid can have.
As I venture into the world, club in hand, tiger-skin tied around my waist, matted hair not really blowing in the wind because it’s so thick with grease (only kidding, I’m bald), I can confidently kill any mammoth that crosses my path. I can do this knowing that I have a mate who has my back and who takes care of me.
Once the sun falls below the mountains, she is teaching me by the light of the fire how to become truly powerful. She is teaching me to access and wield the feminine part of myself, the part that is intuitive, the part that is empathic, the part that is passive, the part that yields, and the part that flows like water through life and into the crevices of reality to find where the seams of gold begin.