Sunday, August 08, 2010

Love and closet space

I'm hardly a romantic. Hollywood depictions of romantic relationships make me gag. I laugh at romantic comedies for all the wrong reasons. My stomach doesn't flip flop over flowers, jewelry and professions of undying love and devotion. Candlelit dinners just aren't my thing (I have to see my food; it's just a weird quirk I have).

I used to just think something was wrong with me. That is until I read a book called "The Five Love Languages" by Gary Chapman. The premise is that everyone shows and feels love in different ways: words of affirmation, quality time, gifts, acts of service and physical touch. The theory goes that one person may show love through acts of service to their partner and feel most loved when that partner spends quality time with them. The other partner may feel love through  words of affirmation and show affection through thoughtful gifts. It's all about learning how your partner expresses love and feels most loved. It made sense, even as I gagged my way through descriptions of love languages that I clearly did not speak. To date, it's the only "relationship" book I've ever read.

Flowers, jewelry and other gifts are completely unnecessary with me; in fact, it stresses me out probably because I assume all gifts have strings attached. Fancy dinners out are too expensive and, besides, I live with a chef. Movies are nice once in a while, but if I'm going to spend more than two hours in the dark there better be sleep involved and if I'm going to spend two hours with my husband alone, well, there are better things to do. Sweet nothings are just that and even plain old compliments sometimes embarrass me. And, at the end of the day, the last thing I want is one more person touching me. I do wish, though, that my husband and I could learn to dance together. We took dance lessons before we got married but, alas, he's a white Irishman and I'm a control freak. It just wasn't meant to be, though, once in a while, when our first dance song is playing (Into the Mystic by Van Morrison) we make an awkward attempt at dancing.

To be fair, these days most of my romantic fantasies involve sleep. My idea of a perfect date is my husband and I sleeping in together. With no children banging on the door or crying in the crib. Other than that, a trip to the lake, alone, with a picnic lunch and two rafts is my idea of heaven right now. As you can see, quality time is clearly my love language.

Jim was once told that whoever you marry should be someone you like to talk to because you'll be talking to them for a long time. He told me this a few weeks after one of our early dates. We went roller blading and then sat in my car and talked for a long time--he laid across the front seat, feet hanging out the open car door, I laid the same way but across the back seat. But when we finally parted for the day, he told me "You're easy to talk to." My father had told my mother something very similar when they first began dating.

These days, talking doesn't often happen with three young kids in the house. This evening, I remarked to my husband that the kids' bedtime has gotten way too late, an obvious sign of a summer well-enjoyed with the unintended consequence of us not having any time to ourselves. Between that and the volume level in our house, it's impossible to carry on a conversation.

Good thing I have another love language; one that wasn't mentioned in the book, probably because some would considere it a mental disorder. Apparently, I am in love with well-organized closets. Over the years, my husband has happily busted his hump renovating our kitchen, putting in closets and reorganizing spaces all over our house. He seems to show his love through acts of service and he knows how much I love organized spaces even if I'm not always motivated to do the organizing myself. Nowadays, I'm so mind-numbingly exhausted it's a miracle if I even fold a basket of laundry.

Our latest closet addition is in the kids' bathroom in an open, wasted space between the counter and the wall that served as an entryway from Fiona's room into the bathroom. The door had been locked, the entry way never used. Now the space has shelves filled with baskets of supplies, bifold doors on either side and space for hampers and diaper pails. The closet before that made use of space beneath our stairs. Jim knocked down walls in the kitchen a few years ago to open up the layout and provide more storage space.

Having kids certainly gets in the way of us spending quality time together or even having a conversation sometimes. But when I look around the house and see orderly little nooks, well, my stomach goes flip flop and I feel very loved.


Presley said...

I love this book too! I used to appreciate words of encouragement, but these days I really relish quality time because our couple time has greatly diminished. I would say that you appreciate acts of service!

Kelley said...

Might be my favorite post you've written. I think anyone who knows about the five languages falls in love with the concept.