I was talking with one of my best friends this week about the overwhelming response to my last series of HuffPost blogs on the topic of physical touch (or the lack thereof) within marriage today ("Good Touch. Bad Touch. No Touch?" and "Speaking of Touch").
She laughed and said, "Honestly, I really just need more chore-play!"
What?! At first I thought I had misunderstood her. Then, I realized that she didn't say she needed more "foreplay." What she did say was that she needed more "chore-play." What a concept!
I thought about how many women I speak to who are in marriages that are struggling, or marriages that have fallen apart, who tell me that they just wish their husbands were more appreciative of them and helped out more around the house. "He never really appreciates me!" they tell me. Or, "I have to do it all!" Or, "I work too, yet the majority of responsibility for the kids and running our household still falls on me."
This is a classic case of "love languages" lost in translation. Surely most of you are familiar with Dr. Gary Chapman's book, "The 5 Love Languages," which essentially says that we all have one or two primary love languages that we need to have met in order to feel loved and truly appreciated. And, oftentimes, we assume our love language is the same love language as our partner. Yet we disconnect when we show love in a language that isn't getting through. It's like speaking two completely different languages -- and expecting the other person to understand. I'm not going to go into all the details here, but if you have not read the book, you should check it out.
For my friend, "Acts of Service" is her love language. She wasn't kidding when she said chore-play is the road to physical touch in her marriage! Her love language is to have her husband voluntarily and willingly help out around the house. Empty the dishwasher?! (Watch out!) Fold the laundry? (Hold on tight!) Make a surprise dinner?! (Off to the races!). And her husband, whose primary love language is "Physical Touch," may find his "Acts of Service" return an enjoyable evening of "Physical Touch!"
When her "love" tank is filled, she is more likely to be willing, open, and happy to return love. And the converse is true, of course. When she fills her husband's "love" tank through "Physical Touch" (his primary love language), he is more likely to want to fill her love tank with "Acts of Service." It can be a vicious and challenging love cycle. And imagine the possibilities in a relationship where you understand your partner's love language ... ahh!
Don't get all fired up and comment about the fact that I'm suggesting that if you had just emptied the dishwasher one or two more times that your marriage would have been saved -- I'm not! Don't comment that you could have scrubbed the floors on your hands and knees and your wife still wouldn't have responded to you. I totally get the fact that there are a whole lot of extenuating circumstances to this whole "love language" thing.
I am merely trying to convey that we all tend to think in terms of what we need or want in order to feel fulfilled, when in fact our spouses may respond in a completely different manner (or put another way, may speak a totally different love language). Good intentions become lost in translation. Have you ever thought about what your partner's love language might be? Dr. Chapman will tell you that most people are attracted to people with a different love language than their own. Sounds confusing! And, gives credence to the saying that opposites attract. Like I said, you should read the book, but to give a preview, the five primary love languages are (1) Acts of Service, (2) Physical Touch, (3) Quality Time, (4) Gifts, and (5) Words of Affirmation!
I'm not sure what the statistics and studies might show, but anecdotally, based on the women I speak with, I'm willing to bet that the primary love language of many women is indeed "Acts of Service." How about it guys? How about trying to engage in a little more CHORE-PLAY and seeing what happens?! Your acts of service may generate powerful physical touch, words of affirmation, intense quality time and even gifts!
It's chore-play or no-play. Have it your way!