Speaking Your Spouse’s Love Language

Written with love, by Karley Kiker

Before we got married, Taylor lied to me—a big fat one that I didn’t see coming until I was standing in the middle of it a few months after tying the knot. “My number one love language is physical touch,” he had previously announced during one of our pre-marital counseling sessions. Our pastor had assigned The Five Love Languages to us as reading material, and just a few weeks before walking the aisle, it was time to share our results. “Mine is words of affirmation,” I responded.

Like I said, Taylor lied. (But my proclamation wasn’t exactly 100 percent accurate either. While I do crave verbal praise, I’m also pretty darn touchy-feely and I like to hold hands whenever possible. Basically, I am a happy camper if my husband tells me I’m smart and pretty while simultaneously giving me a massage.) Although Taylor thought his love language was physical touch, we later learned that his results were skewed due to the fact that sex was off the table during our engagement. After the honeymoon, it became apparent that his true love language is quality time.

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   Speaking Your Spouse’s Love Language - Marriage Advice

AHA! So that’s why he always gets offended when I flip through Instagram while riding shotgun in the car! He wants to have a conversation with me—or at least have my help in deciphering Siri’s directions—and instead I tend to treat him like my own private chauffeur. Suddenly a lot of the silent treatment I receive post car ride(s) makes a lot more sense. It hurts Taylor’s feelings when I’m physically there without being mentally and emotionally present, just like it rubs me the wrong way when he refuses to rub my back.

Like everything else about the marriage journey, picking up on these cues has been a learning process for us. That’s (especially) because speaking Taylor’s love language requires more than just hearing what he’s saying—it means intentionally listening, and furthermore, it means responding in the way that he needs to be responded to.

I will never forget the day that we left for our honeymoon in Mexico. We were at the airport and Taylor wasn’t feeling so hot...stomach hurting, head aching, all that good stuff. I felt so bad for him and wanted nothing more than to comfort him, so I did exactly what I would have wanted him to do if the situation was reversed (that’s the Golden Rule, right?)—I scratched his back and rubbed his forehead. Now, if he was really a “physical touch” kind of guy, that gesture would have been right up his alley. So imagine my surprise when he said, “I don’t want this to hurt your feelings, but I really don’t like to be touched when I’m sick. It makes me feel worse.” Naturally, I was crushed. I had been a wife for all of 24 hours and already I had failed! Since then, though, I’ve learned that this simply isn’t the best way for me to tell Taylor “I love you” when he’s sick. Giving him space works much better.

The process of learning how to love your spouse in the way that they can best accept it is often difficult and counterintuitive, which is why I think it must be the PhD of marriage. But when you finally start to grasp it, the reward is seeing your best friend’s heart come to life. There is no greater feeling!

Do you have any “sick at the airport” stories about struggling to speak your spouse’s love language? I’d love to hear them!

 

Money and Marriage

Written with love, by Karley Kiker

Before getting married it was difficult for me to believe that financial issues were one of the leading causes of divorce. We all took vows for richer or poorer, right? We knew that those ambiguous “hard times” might come sometime in the distant future, but our love would always be enough get us through.

 

You know what? I still believe that’s true. If we lost all of our clients and everything went south for us (and I don’t mean to Mexico for vacation), I know that God would remain in control and that Taylor and I would remain committed to one another. But that doesn’t mean I think it would be easy. I don’t particularly enjoy cutting back on date nights and take-out meals when we’re experiencing a tight month budget-wise, so I can only imagine the strain of rebuilding our lives from scratch following a major financial setback.

Sometimes it doesn’t take a “major financial setback” to cause financial strain in marriage, though, which is why today we’re focusing on some of the smaller ways that the money issue can rear its head in marriage. Consider the following questions:

Is the money yours, mine, or ours?

Who sets and monitors the family budget?

Who balances the checkbook?

Who pays the bills?

Do online orders from Amazon need to be discussed before the credit card information is entered and the shipment is on its way? (Asking for a friend.)

There’s not necessarily a “right” answer to any of these questions—for instance, although my mom was always responsible for balancing the books in my family while I was growing up, Taylor handles that task in our little unit. The important thing is finding out what’s right for you as a couple.

And then there’s the spending issue. Ahem. When I was single I went to Starbucks almost every day during my work break. I also spent a significant amount of my income on dining out, and treating myself to a new outfit wasn’t unheard of. But the way I spent my single-girl earnings looks nothing like the way our marital money is handled. Retirement plans, emergency funds, and bills all require an infusion of capital, which meant I had to adjust my spending habits post “I do.”

marriage and money

Again, there’s no set formula for the “right” way to spend money in marriage. Some of my couple friends give themselves set allowances each month, which allows them to do whatever they want (whenever they want) with an agreed-upon amount of money. Our solution? To create a joint budget that reflects what matters to us most as a couple rather than as individuals, and to leave enough elasticity to accommodate spur-of-the-moment date nights and/or surprise root canals. When deciding what’s right for your family, just remember: Too much restriction, and chances are that one or both of you will feel like you’re not having much fun at all. Too little saving, and anxiety about emergencies that may or may not happen in the unforeseen future is bound to creep in.

The bottom line? Don’t let money come between you and your honey!

Do you guys have any other tips for avoiding financial strain in marriage? Feel free to comment below with your suggestions!

Learning How to Dream Together

Written with love, by Karley Kiker

I’ve mentioned to you guys before that I started writing letters to my husband at age 14, which means that I was dreaming about marriage for almost 10 years before it actually happened. Once Taylor proposed those dreams only intensified. Yes, we planned a “Hitched in a Hurry” wedding in just 4.5 months...but that doesn’t mean I skipped over creating a Pinterest board, trying on dresses, picking up items for our first home together, or any of those other pre-wedding activities that are particularly dream inducing.

One thing I didn’t dream about is what would happen to all of the other dreams I held close to my heart as a single girl. Like maybe becoming a professor one day (my plans included having a lounge area at the back of my room, complete with couches and a coffee bar). Moving to France long-term and continuing to work on my language skills. Hosting or appearing on a television show (judge me if you will). Putting down roots in a community. The list goes on.

Learning How to Dream Together - Marriage Advice

My husband, of course, came into our marriage with a different set of dreams. For starters, he wanted to buy a German Shepherd (and actually put down a deposit for a puppy at one point). He had planned to travel the world via World Race before settling into a job. He wanted to get certified to solo-skydive. The thought of committing to living in a city (or even a state) long-term freaked him out. And still does.

So what happens when, after the dream of marriage is fulfilled, it feels as though other dreams that were birthed during a time of singleness are put on hold, or worse…dying? France is nowhere near the top of Taylor’s “countries I’d like to live in” list. I still don’t know if World Race is something I feel personally called to. Something (and somebody) has got to give in these scenarios, but when it’s your dream that’s on the chopping block, feelings of hurt, resentment, and defensiveness are bound to follow.

This is where Taylor and I are continuing to learn that it’s absolutely essential for us to grasp the concept of “dying to self”—see this post on selfishness and this advice from my parents for further details. We’re both committed to remembering that our marriage doesn’t revolve around just one of us. As individuals, do we want our deepest desires and wildest dreams to be fulfilled? Absolutely. But our joint dream of doing life together forever takes precedence, and that requires (frequent) compromise from both of us.

Final thoughts: I absolutely love living in our cozy little beach house in South Carolina, so it’s tempting for me to start feeling anxious-bordering-on-upset whenever Taylor mentions how much he loves the idea of living in Hawaii one day. But—from experience—squashing his dream and diving into a defense of my own isn’t going to do anything in the way of making him feel loved, understood, and/or supported. It’s also a guaranteed way to make him think twice before daring to dream out loud with me again, and I don’t ever want to miss out on the chance to hear his heart.

Cheers to the messy journey of learning how to dream together, and to all the wonderful things that come to life when we do!