Right now, Monsieur and I are going through a rough patch. Besides the relationship issues, my mother-in-law has suffered 2 strokes in the last 10 days and is receiving "comfort care." My mother-in-law played a role in our couple life early in our relationship. We spent many week-ends with her on Bowen Island, travelled with her in a motorhome, and I cruised 5 times to Alaska with her when she no longer had Bowen or was able to travel. She and I used to go to plays together and we have even cried together at times. During the last few years, Monsieur has chosen to visit his mother alone and I have respected his wish to have a closer private time with his "mom". His mother has an "o", mine has a "u".
Yesterday, was my second counselling session. Only I attended and we talked about how I show love and how love was shown in my family. There is a book The Five Languages of Love by Gary Chapman that Monsieur and I read several years ago and that I revisited last night. I am a "book person" and a problem solver so, in times of stress, I try to solve my problems by reading.
The five languages of love, according to Chapman, are affirmation, service, time, gifts and touch.
Which languages we value most depends on our family of origin and our early experience. I am the eldest of four children, 3 of us born within 5 years. According to the questionnaire, my greatest needs are for affirmation and for touch. My mother does not like to "palaver" or brag about her children which is probably why affirmation is so important to me. "Conscientious" and "hard-working" have always been my labels at school and at work. I have always strived to do the best job that I can. I felt joy when my dying father placed my Sorbonne graduation picture above his bed and told everyone about his "smart" daughter. As my mother had another child on the way when I was only 5 months old, I had no time to be the "superstar."
My parents kissed almost every day of their 62 year marriage. Whenever my mum was leaving the hospital, my parents embraced at length. Dad sat in the wheelchair at the window to watch mum drive away and mum honked (forget it was a hospital zone) as she pulled away. Each night when we were children, my mother tucked us in and kissed us goodnight. We are a quietly affectionate family. Interestingly, neither of my husbands have come from cuddly families and darling daughter would balk if I tried to kiss her.
I enjoy giving gifts, providing service and spending time with those that I love. I feel happy when my loved ones feel happy and feel frustrated if my efforts are not appreciated.
I don't believe that life is as simple as any book or family system therapy makes it sound but I do believe (as the teacher-librarian person that I used to be) that we are more likely to be successful, the more tools that we have in our toolbox.
Today, I will go with my husband to visit his mother and to say good-bye to a lady who was also my friend.