Have you ever taken one of those love language quizzes? I’ve taken several throughout the years, and while some things tend to switch around as my life circumstances change, one thing has stayed the same: physical touch is NOT my thing. It’s also not really my husband’s thing. And I’m pretty sure its not our daughters thing, either.
This does not mean that our household is short on love or affection. It just means that love and affection are communicated in different ways, such as through encouraging words and spending lots of time together. It is also important to understand that physical touch as a love language is not the same thing as physical intimacy or physical needs of my children. Those are all different matters entirely.
It came to my attention after a particularly difficult Christmas “vacation” that I needed to make an effort to also display physical signs of encouragement, excitement and love. My husband and I had just packed up a toddler, a newborn and every.single.item possibly needed to make a toddler and newborn happy on a 6 hour road trip in the snow. Our road trip turned into 8 hours, and we arrived weary and exhausted. We opened presents with our family, had dinner and then went straight to bed. During the night, our toddler got sick. The kind of sick that you just don’t want to share with the cousins. We packed up as quickly as possible and left to head back home. Our 6 hour return trip ended up taking 9 hours. We finally pulled into our driveway, exhausted to the core.
My husband and I turned to each other and at the same moment raised our hands up in a parental salute. Then, SMACK, we high-fived. With that loud smack and acknowledgement of our “success”, it reminded us of that fact that we were on a team and that we were working together to accomplish this parenting gig, crazy adventures and all.
That high five said so much:
We were limping to the finish line, but we had done it. The High Five also seemed to break that barrier of tension that we had both been holding in for the whole trip, almost like letting out your breath when the airplane finally touches down on the tarmac.
Speaking of airplane, we tried this method again when we flew with our two children just a few weeks ago. When the plane landed, we turned to each other and gave a quick high five. It took less than two seconds, but said so much: Great job. We did it. I’m so proud of you. GO TEAM.
I’ve tried it for the small stuff, too, and it has the same effect. When my husband finally got our two year old to take a nap, I high-fived him as he came down the stairs. When our son falls asleep without being incessantly rocked, we high-fived (quietly!). When our toddler sits on the couch and reads and book, we nudge each other and subtly give a high-five.
Sometimes we are too exhausted to form the words to say “Good job”. Sometimes I’m just so tired of being touched that I don’t want to offer a hug. Sometimes the moment is not appropriate for a hug or a conversation. Sometimes I’m so disconnected from my husband and focused on all the problems that I forget to acknowledge how many battles we are actually winning on the parenting battlefields.