Widower: Avoiding Downward Spirals

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Grief can pummel you physically, emotionally, and mentally in ways that make you feel as if you will never be able to live a normal life again. The physical pain can drive you to your knees. At times you may just sit on the stairs and sob. Mentally, you can find yourself incapable of processing the simplest thoughts. Often, I would sit in front of the television and replay a scene multiple times because I could not recall the beginning of the one minute conversation. 

We often ask, “How can I survive this?” During these times, the siren call of alcohol and drugs may be strong. I was very tempted to drink more, to try some weed, or to take some pain pills. I thought this would help ease my pain and let me forget what I was experiencing.

Usually when I managed to keep my intake to two glasses of wine or beer, it could calm me and take a little of the edge off my stress. However, when I allowed myself to have a third glass, I would find myself wallowing in self-indulgent sorrow and loneliness that led to more aggravated symptoms of grief. Even though I recognized what was happening, I could not pull myself out of it. 

Research shows that alcohol or drugs can lead to complicated grief, depression, and even suicidal thoughts. The National Council of Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (NCADD) reported that widowers over the age of 75 have the highest rate of alcoholism in the U.S.  Widowers all have a higher risk of alcohol related problems, especially during the first two years of grieving. If you have anger issues (e.g. anger at a doctor or hospital) alcohol may only fuel your anger further, contributing to a downward spiral of anger and depression.

Grief can introduce all kinds of life-threatening stressors and these can often trigger accompanying unhealthy old and new bad behaviors. Self-recrimination, self-doubts, and questioning your core self-image can lead to self-destructive behaviors. The temptation to go deeper and deeper into the depression is powerful. If you had problems in the past with addictive behaviors, it is even more critical that you avoid alcohol and drugs.

What helped me to deal with this behavior was to remember my wife, kids and grandkids. I knew this was not the behavior my wife would have wanted to see in me, and that now my kids needed me more than ever before.

When out with friends I learned to keep my intake down to two beers or glasses of wine and avoided mixed drinks altogether. I made sure to have food with my drinks and to spread them out over longer periods of time. At home I worked on identifying my triggers and keeping strict limits on my intake. If still tempted I would call friends or family to talk or go outside and take a long walk. Over time I learned to adhere to these limits and enjoy myself while keeping the reins on my grieving and depression.

If you are having challenges with this, talk to someone (counselor, friend, men’s group, church, or Alcoholics Anonymous). Whatever you do, don’t hide in your home and consume alcohol or drugs alone. If not addressed, this is a recipe for disaster, digging a hole that becomes increasingly difficult to climb out of. The sooner you meet this challenge the easier it will be to regain your well-being.

1) Alcohol Use in the First Three Years of Bereavement: a National Representative Survey by: Pilling, Thege, Demotrovics & Kopp

Rediscovering Your Radar

Since becoming a widower, one of the most humbling discoveries that I have made is the fact that I know very little about women. While I grew to know my wife as well as I could know anyone, I simultaneously disconnected my radar associated with the pursuit of other relationships. While that was the proper thing to do as a married man, it has me at a significant disadvantage these days. Now, don’t get me wrong, I have continued to be very appreciative of the beauty of women. However, I have come to appreciate the vast difference between the observation and execution of the monumental task of how to pursue a new relationship.

Let me share with you just how perplexed I am, via my ‘Starbucks story.’

One night on my way home from an outing, I stopped at Starbucks for a beverage of some kind. After my name was called, an attractive, age-appropriate woman was standing between myself and the sweetener I desired (perhaps this was already a sign of my targeting systems being down).

Being the gentlemen that I am I said, “Excuse me, will you pass me a couple packets of the sweetener?”.  Which she replied, “I would be happy to pass you anything”! Of course, I thanked her, then proceeded to fix my drink and (leave). Halfway home it suddenly struck me that, just maybe, I was being flirted with! At that moment I didn’t know whether I should laugh or cry, so I split it down the middle and just laughed at myself. Just one of many examples of my internal GPS out of service for far too long.

Recently I have invested some time in reading about the topic of dating and relationships among men who have lost their spouses. One of the articles that I would highly recommend was written by Ashley Papa titled ‘Dating a Widower: 10 Things You Need to Know When Starting a Relationship’  In it, she outlined in common sense language what to be prepared for when dating a widowed man and how it differs from dating a divorced person.

After reading it myself, I was led to do some personal reflection as to whether I was ready to be a part of a meaningful relationship if it were to present itself. Among the topics presented, these were a few thoughts that impacted me the most.

1. Do I identify myself more strongly as, a widower or a single man? It has been proven that how we see ourselves, directly affects how we present ourselves. So, if I lead with my widowed status, I may be subverting my single status. This can portray me as closed, as opposed to being available in some cases.

2. Just because I was a good husband, doesn’t mean that I need to be a husband to feel whole again. I must admit, this was a misstep that I made very early in my widowed experience. After just six months, I tried to engage in a committed relationship with a friend, and it was unfulfilling for us both. While we remain civil until this day, this experience was a disappointment for all involved.

3. I must face the realization that I may never be anyone’s husband again and that must be alright. Even in writing these words, I must admit feeling a little sad. I found marriage to be a wonderful experience. While there were difficult days, overall it was worth it. The other factor that makes me feel a bit sad is that I was good at it. So, like anything you are good at that you can no longer do, you are a bit nostalgic for it. Marriage is far too important to pursue with the wrong person.

As my education continues in the area of the understanding relationships, I am resolved to start out by being patient, just being a friend and try not to make a fool out of myself. I often tell men when they first experience loss, to try not to put too many expectations on themselves. As I said previously, I find my lack of knowledge in this area to be humbling, yet as I delve into learning more about this area, it is a bit exciting as well. I can promise you, however, that the next time I go to Starbucks, I will be aware of more than just what is on the menu!

Terrell Whitener is an author, motivational speaker, and coach. Based in St. Louis, Missouri, Terrell is the author of  The First 365, Learning to Live After Loss.  Terrell can be reached at twhitener@thedebriefgroup.net, LinkedIn @terrellwhitener or through the Widow Support Network.

Widower: Grieving Can Weaken or Strengthen Your Family

As I sank into deep grieving after my wife’s death, I became increasingly concerned about my sanity and ability to make sound decisions. At times the world around me seemed surreal, my short and long term memory became suspect, and I often just wanted to shut the door on everyone and just hide in my grief.

As I began to recognize the impacts of these issues upon me, I became fearful that I would make some bad decisions which might threaten my relationships… particularly with my two daughters, four grandchildren, two brothers, and three sisters. While buried in grief it was easy for me to become so self-absorbed with my suffering that I would forget that my family was grieving too.

I realized that I needed them more than ever now! But how could I let them know how much I was hurting, how much my thinking process was distorted, and how much my social filters were screwed up. I knew that it would only take a couple “incidents” to color everyone’s perception of me in a bad way, in a way which could threaten our relationships going forward.

My efforts to keep all the grieving to myself quickly faltered as I realized that I could not heal by myself, and that the more isolated I became the worse the grieving became. That is when I started to reach out to my family. Thank God they responded with love, support, and understanding. Over time, this gave me the confidence to re-engage with others as well.

I was fortunate to have a sister who had worked as a therapist for many years. She patiently listened to me as I verbalized the litany of issues I was confronting, and the terrible loneliness I was experiencing. Another sister who lived in the area made a point of getting me out for breakfast or dinner once in a while.  My two daughters, who lived nearby, made a point of staying in close touch, stopping by to check on me regularly, and making sure that I often saw the grandkids.

In turn, I learned to reach out to them as well. This included writing love notes from grandma to each of them (I had discussed this with my wife before she passed). We were able to share memories of her together, though this was often painful. Over the next few months the awkwardness over the topic began to diminish and we were able to gradually build even stronger bonds through the shared grief.

My sense of responsibility for my daughters and their families has only grown stronger since Theresa’s passing, and I feel that I am becoming an even better parent and grandparent. I am now much more empathetic, and more willing to assume “grandmother” roles within the family such as babysitting and taking the kids out shopping.

Gradually, as I became more grounded and more sure of myself, I was able to increasingly enjoy my new role and to find new ways to strengthen and enjoy our families. Now I feel more blessed than ever… and I know my wife would approve! 

That, more than anything, helps me to feel happy and fulfilled again.

Fred Colby, Author

Widower to Widower

The Perfect Catch

WSN-MO: The Perfect Catch 

A few minutes with Dating and Relationship Coach, Christine Baumgartner 

Kerry Phillips started one of the widows/widowers Facebook groups I belong to and when I read this post I thought to sharew it with the mebmers of WSN-MO as a guest post. Now, here’s Kerry. 

I think one of the most defining moments in my long distance relationship with my late hubby was when I jokingly said, “Where ever you are in this world, I’ll always find a way to get to you”.

When he died in 2012, that statement stayed with me. I felt an overwhelming need and desire to get to him. I wasn’t sure if he was in heaven, hanging out in God’s waiting room or trapped in some unknown realm. All I knew was that I wanted to get to him, even if that meant dying too.

I can’t say that I was actively suicidal, but the thought was present in my mind: I wanted to…needed to get to him.

I remember thinking, “How will I ever get out of this dark place?”, “How can I live out the rest of the day without hearing his voice?”; “How can I have a ‘tomorrow’ with life as I knew it ending ‘TODAY?’”; “How will I live?”…

That was almost 7 years ago. I never knew that it was possible to have made it this far, let alone be happy.

Yes, I’ve added people to my life which ultimately added to my happiness – like opting to continue my journey into motherhood alone. But, at the end of the day, I realized no one besides me could be responsible for my happiness. I alone was in charge of how the tragedy of my husband’s death would define my life. 

Each and every day, we have at least two choices. We can look at the world through bitter, angry lenses, wrongly believing that holding on to that pain somehow shows how much we loved our spouse. Or, we can find the happiness in even the littlest of things. Today, for example, I stared at the patch of grey in the middle of my locs. I was bothered by it then I remembered that my husband didn’t live long enough to have more than a strand or two of grey hair come in. That really shifted my perspective.

Yes, we will forever grieve the love that we lost. We will never get over it. I know this. I’ve lived it for 2,486 days. I will live it for a lifetime more.

But I know for sure that there can be good in each day if we only open our eyes a bit wider. Look through the anger, the sadness, the betrayal, the lies, the hurt, the disappointment, the grief. It is possible for happiness to live simultaneously with grief.

For 2019, my wish is that we all find the beauty in each day and realize that even during our worst moments, the sun will rise the next morning and we’ll have another shot at finding the beauty in the day.

Kerry runs a support group for young widows and widowers venturing back into the world of dating and is a contributor to Open to Hope. She is the author of “The One Thing: 100 Widows Share Lessons on Love, Loss and Life” and her articles on widowhood and grief have been featured in HuffPost and Love What Matters. She was recently featured on the podcast, Moments of Clarity. 

Christine Baumgartner

Dating and Relationship Coach

The Perfect Catch

http://www.theperfectcatch.com 

WSN-MO: A FEW IMPORTANT POINTS.

1. The services offered by Christine, herself a widow, does not include “dating or matchmaking services.”

2. Christine will NEVER have direct access to WSN-MO’s Facebook page. All postings will be facilitated through WSN-MO.

3. WSN-MO members can ask questions of Christine (even anonymously via private message to me) on our Facebook page which I will forward to her. You can also send questions to me at herb@WidowersSupportNetwork.com. Following, I will then post her responses.

4. WSN-MO members who wish to contact Christine directly are always free to do so c/o her website http://theperfectcatch.com.

Look for Christine’s advice every other Thursday.

The Widower’s Journey

Immediately following the passing of Michelle Rene Knoll in March 2008, her husband Herb Knoll looked for help in dealing with his grief. To his surprise, little was available, even from his church, from the self-help book shelves of the local Barnes and Noble store or online. It was then Knoll decided to begin writing a book to comfort and assist Widowers with their grief. The book’s title…The Widower’s Journey.

What are you going to be doing on New Year’s Eve?

WSN-MO: The Perfect Catch 

WSN-MO Dating and Relationship Coach, Christine Baumgartner asks… 

What are you going to be doing on New Year’s Eve? 

I’ve been talking about the holiday season and widowhood for the past couple weeks. In those articles, I haven’t included the New Year’s celebration because it often impacts people differently than the rest of the holidays.

New Year’s is all about reminiscing about the year that is ending (which you may feel completely unable to do) and looking forward to the new year ahead (which may seem impossible to even imagine).

Just to remind you:

• Depending on how long it’s been since your spouse passed away, your feelings may still be pretty raw. Especially in that first year when you’re probably in a fog.

• Some people opt to keep their traditions going as always (and to talk and cry through the memories). 

• Others find that’s just too hard, and want to do something completely different. 

Something to ask yourself as New Year’s Eve approaches – will it help you more to be around a lot of people, a small number of people, or by yourself? 

If you feel that being with “lots of people” is the right thing for you, here are a couple suggestions:

• Restaurant or nightclub. You can get dressed up, dance, and blow horns at midnight. 

• Have you heard of “First Night”? This family-friendly event is available in various areas of the country (they do it where I live). The city closes the main street, and the local stores and restaurants stay open. Shuttles take people around to entertainment (bands, comedy shows, crafts for kids) being held at local theaters, gymnasiums, and museums. There’s a fireworks show at midnight.

If you prefer being with “just a few people”, here are some that have worked for me:

• Go out to the movies with a friend.

• Plan to go to someone else’s home (close friend or family member who knows how you’re feeling) for an evening of board game playing and good snacks. Then, watch the midnight celebrations on TV or computer.

• Go out to dinner. It’s important to pick a restaurant that won’t bring up memories. 

If you feel like you want to spend the time by yourself, you could:

• Go on a trip locally or far away (once again pick a place that won’t bring up memories). Being away from home can help you not feel like you’re “trying to have” or “not trying to have” your normal traditions.

• Get a pile of movies for watching at home. 

• Make plans ahead of time to have a healing ritual for yourself. Include candles and music if that appeals to you. You can meditate, cry, write a list of resolutions for next year, talk to your deceased spouse – whatever brings ease to your evening.

And to restate my advice from the last two weeks: “Just feel what you feel when you feel it.” Those huge waves of feeling that crash over you won’t last forever (they only feel that way).

I’m interested in hearing about your experiences as you go through the holidays this year. Send me an email.

Christine Baumgartner

Dating and Relationship Coach

The Perfect Catch

http://www.theperfectcatch.com 

WSN-MO: A FEW IMPORTANT POINTS.

1. The services offered by Christine, herself a widow, does not include “dating or matchmaking services.”

2. Christine will NEVER have direct access to WSN-MO’s Facebook page. All postings will be facilitated through WSN-MO.

3. WSN-MO members can ask questions of Christine (even anonymously via private message to me) on our Facebook page which I will forward to her. You can also send questions to me at herb@WidowersSupportNetwork.com. Following, I will then post her responses.

4. WSN-MO members who wish to contact Christine directly are always free to do so c/o her website http://theperfectcatch.com.

Look for Christine’s advice every other Thursday.

A Widower’s Christmas Wish List

by Herb Knoll

Author: The Widower’s Journey 

From as far away as Australia to the British Isles, from Canada to Nigeria, the Widowers Support Network hears the cries of men who mourn the loss of their wife, their soul mates, their partners in life.  Widowed men don’t ask for much, never have, never will.  After all, men who mourn are expected to “get over it,” right?  You know, be a man. Macho if you will.  Unfortunately, that’s not the way it was meant to be.  

It is said that to grieve, you first must have loved.  For without love, grief does not exist.  To have loved is among life’s greats joys.  As such, it is unrealistic to think one who once loved doesn’t grieve when it is lost.  And with grief, comes sorrow, tears, fright, despair, pain, loneliness, depression, aimlessness, and more.  Each of these behaviors is dangerous.  At times, life-threatening. Yet for some reason, widowed men continue to be held to a different set of expectations vs. widows when they experience the loss of their beloved spouse.  

Following a speaking engagement in Connecticut, it hit me.  “Men don’t think they have permission to grieve.”  This is why they retreat to the shadows of our communities to mourn in private, many in total despair, for they wish not to be viewed as less of a man, then society would have them be. How sad for the widowers of the world; our fathers, brothers, uncles, nephews, grandfathers, neighbors, and colleagues. 

In the Gospel of John (John 11:1–44), we learned of the story of Jesus’ dearest friend, Lazarus of Bethany, also known as Saint Lazarus or Lazarus of the Four Days.  Jesus loved Lazarus.  When Jesus wept after he learned of Lazarus’ passing. So painful was Jesus’ loss, he decided to perform one of his most prominent of miracles in which he restored Lazarus to life four days after his death.  For those of the Christian faith (and I invite others as well), ask yourself; does anyone see Jesus as less of a man for his tears?  Jesus’ reaction to the loss of his beloved friend reinforces the view that grieving is a natural extension of one’s love for another.

As we approach Christmas when all of the Christian world celebrates the birth of the Christ child, and presents are so bountiful, do so with a new awareness of the plight of the widowed man. You may know a widower who you are contemplating purchasing a gift.  But what does one gift to a widower? The answer lies in this article.

From around the world, widowers have shared with me a listing of the gifts they would truly love to receive. Don’t worry about the cost. The presents widowers seek won’t cost a nickel.

Proactive steps to help get you through the holidays

Proactive Steps to help get you through the holidays

Last week I talked about the holiday season and widowhood:

  • About the widower who says with tears in his eyes, “Christmas was always her thing”. 
  • About the grieving widow who tells me “he was such a big part of our family’s Hanukkah traditions”.

Depending on how long it’s been since your spouse passed away, your feelings are possibly still pretty raw. Especially in that first year when you’re probably in a fog. Perhaps the “first” holiday season is the most overwhelming, but I found I was still floundering on my second and third.

Not feeling sad around the holidays might not be an option for you. However, not feeling sad every minute of every day might be an option. 

Some wisdom I learned along the way… if something funny happens (especially some of the black humor that comes with widowhood), go ahead of laugh. It’s not disrespectful, and it can be good for your soul. 

If you momentarily forget your spouse is gone because your child or grandchild does something so cute, that’s okay and normal. And then, if your feelings of sadness come slamming back because you wish your spouse was here to see that cute thing they did, that’s normal too. 

Some people opt to keep their traditions going as always (and to talk and cry through the memories). 

Others find that’s just too hard, and want to do something completely different. Here are things I found worked for me over the years.

  • Plan to go to someone else’s home, perhaps a very close friend or family member. Pick someone who you know will be okay with you talking and crying and laughing (sometimes all at the same time) about how you’re feeling. 
  • Go out to dinner. It’s important to pick a restaurant where nothing will remind you of past holidays and other memories. 
  • Contact a local retirement home or assisted living facility. Ask them if you can volunteer there. Giving to others can sometimes make our own hearts feel a little less heavy. You will also understand their pain if they too have lost a spouse.
  • Go on a trip locally or far away (once again pick a place that won’t remind you of past holidays). Staying at a hotel can give you a way of not feeling like you’re trying to have or not have your normal traditions at your house.   

And to restate my advice from last week: “Just feel what you feel when you feel it.” Those huge waves of feeling that crash over you won’t last forever (they only feel that way).

I’m interested in hearing about your experiences as you go through the holidays this year. Send me an email.

Grieving and Thanksgiving

With the approach of Thanksgiving, I can’t help but think back to Thanksgiving 2012, my very first holiday following my husband’s sudden death. The grief fog was still very thick. Numbness created a comforting cushion around my body and emotions. 

My husband had died in August. By the time November arrived, the loving family and friends who had gathered around me the first couple months had returned to their normal lives and I was on my own. The “dreaded firsts” were upon me, and I knew Thanksgiving was only the beginning.

Some wonderful friends invited me to their family Thanksgiving dinner that year. I’d spent many holidays with them when I was single, so this felt safe and comfortable. But I could still feel the enormity of this outing, if for no other reason, it was a solo drive (I’d had company on most of my drives since August).

My husband had loved to cook. He cooked for me, his kids, his friends, and the neighbors. Thinking about what to serve, shopping for the food, and preparing the meal brought him lots of joy. I was the sous chef, the audience, and the enthusiastic eater. So, each of our Thanksgivings together had been quite the event. Since his death, I dreaded grocery shopping because I never knew which aisle would bring me to tears from the memories of our being there together.

One thing he didn’t do was bake. He had a favorite German bakery that made our special occasion cakes. He also loved Marie Callender pies. As I sorted through household things after his death, I found quite an accumulation of Marie Callender pie tins.

I realized there was a Marie Callender’s restaurant close to my Thanksgiving destination, so I decided to turn in the stack of empty tins on the drive to my friend’s house. It would be good to get them out of the house (this felt like a manageable small step) and I would also get back the deposit money. 

So, I left the house early, and drove to the shopping center.

As I approached the restaurant I noticed a long line of people that stretched half-way around the building. This puzzled me, but I didn’t give it a lot of thought (it truly didn’t penetrate the grief fog). 

When I got to the restaurant door, I was stopped by a tall man (he literally blocked me). He asked what I needed. I looked up at him and said, “I’m returning my pie tins.”

I watch his expression turn into a huge question mark as he said, “Okay, come in and stand over by the counter.” Then he told a woman behind the counter I was returning my tins and went back to the front door. 

While standing there waiting, I noticed (through my fog) that the restaurant certainly had a lot of customers today. I also noticed that the employees behind the counter were racing around gathering up lots of boxes and customers were walking out with large bags full of stuff. Boxes of pies. Boxes of food. I’m not sure how long I stood there. I do know that it was long enough for some of the fog to finally lift and I had the realization, “Oh, it’s Thanksgiving and people are picking up their dinners and desserts!” 

What a revelation! Outside of my grief-focused self, the rest of the world was still doing its ordinary holiday routines. It was all around me, and I hadn’t been able to connect the dots.

Soon after this, the woman behind the counter asked me how she could help me and I said, “I’m returning my pie tins and just realized it’s Thanksgiving and this is probably a weird thing to do today.” She gave me a big smile and said I was definitely her easiest customer of the day. She took my tins and returned with my deposit money and wished me a happy Thanksgiving. 

As I left the restaurant I was thinking Tony would have gotten a kick out of my doing this. The thought brought both tears to my eyes and a smile to my face.

When I told this story to friends later that day, we had quite a laugh. Then, at the Thanksgiving table, we shared things we were grateful for. I said I was grateful to have special friends who made me feel like family and were accepting of me and my fog. 

In hindsight, I can see that:

  • At one level, I knew it was Thanksgiving because it was causing me to sort through grief and memories and make decisions for myself. 
  • But at another level, my foggy self had failed to connect this thought with the world at large (grief does strange things like this). The world out there was still going through its holiday routines – including coming to Marie Callender’s and picking up pies! 

What about you? Are you reading this article because you too are struggling with grief? Let’s talk. Email me at christine@theperfectcatch.com

Love Languages

Additional ways to show the women in your life you care about them. 

Last week I wrote about ways to improve listening skills between men and women. I’d like to continue in that vein by talking about other ways you can connect with those you care about.

My clients are often surprised to hear that such different ways of “feeling important and cared about” exist, depending on what someone’s “love language” is. Learning your own love language and that of others is a tool I use to help people solve and smooth out relationship problems.

A book I consistently recommend is “The 5 Love Languages” by Gary Chapman. It describes the five ways people typically feel loved, and will help you learn your language and the language of others. Chapman lists the five love languages as:

  1. Acts of service – doing something for the other person.
  2. Quality time – spending time with the other person.
  3. Words of affirmation – giving compliments and other affirming verbal messages.
  4. Gifts – giving and receiving of gifts.
  5. Physical touch – regular physical touching.

Even if you like all five of these, there’s usually one you prefer (and one that the special people in your life prefer). If you assume others will come in on the same “love language” wavelength as yours, things may not work very well.

In a recent discussion on a Facebook widows page, a woman wrote that her needs weren’t getting met by the man she’d been dating a few months. She wanted him to give her compliments and feedback (such as “I think you’re smart”, “I like spending time with you”, “I hear that you’re sad”, etc.)

She said she had told him this a number of times (it turns out it was not in the way he would clearly understand), and he continued to not do it. At the same time, she admitted he’s a pretty good guy, he does nice things for her, and she likes spending time with him.

My guess? This woman probably feels cared about through “words of appreciation”. And it seems like her guy might be an “acts of service” type person (he keeps “doing” things for her to show he cares).

So you can see what might happen if he learns her “language” is words of affirmation and, at the same time, she figures out the meaning behind his “acts of service”. She’ll learn to recognize and value his acts of service. He’ll see her need for affirmation at a new level, and know how to honor that.

In addition to my professional training and experience, I have some personal knowledge here. I too prefer “words of appreciation”. And my late husband was an “acts of service” guy. He struggled to understand what I wanted him to say. When I created a list for him of things to say that would make me feel cared about, he was relieved. He knew it would help him say what I needed to hear, and that when he said those things it would make me happy.

Some people tell me a man shouldn’t need a list of what to say. They say he should just know what to say (especially if she’s already told him). And especially if he cares about her. I can see why they say this, because at first glance it seems logical. (And there might be a few rare cases where it actually works). In our case our communication was much smoother when I provided the list.

I should mention that the story can also be reversed – it can be the man whose love language is “words of appreciation” and the woman’s language is completely different. In that case, it could be that he needs to give her a list!

I’d love to hear about your love language and any challenges and successes you’ve had with it in your life.  I’ll look forward to your emails!