IZI0012031Have you ever told someone something and then later found out that they completely misunderstood you?  Have you had a communication mishap?

I know I’ve shared my apples story here before, but I was thinking about that communication mishap again as I prepared for a bridal shower that I was giving.  You see, my family has a tradition that we started years ago on Saturday mornings.  Over the years we have had busy seasons and days when it didn’t work, but usually on Saturday mornings we have time to make breakfast and eat together.  Since we have only one child at home now, he usually gets to choose what we make.

Well, the other day I asked him what he wanted for breakfast and I heard him say “apples.”  I thought that was kind-of odd because he usually asks for pancakes or waffles, but I figured he just wanted apples that morning.  And I have to admit, I was disappointed because I was hoping for waffles.  But I cut up an apple and set it on the table in front of him.  Then my husband came in and asked him why he had an apple and he said, “I don’t know.”  So I said, “You asked for apples.”  And he said, “No, I asked for waffles.”  Then I said, “Oh, I thought you said ‘apples.’”  So then we all laughed, ate some apple slices and I started making waffles for breakfast.  And everything was fine.  In fact, since then they have been calling our Saturday morning waffles “apples.”

But what if I hadn’t found out that my son had really said waffles?  He would have eaten the apple and gone on with his day probably sad that I gave him apples and confused because he knew what he had said and he expected me to hear what he had said.  And I would have been disappointed because I had wanted to have waffles for breakfast.  Instead of our quickly resolved communication mishap, we could have had a very confused boy and a disappointed mom.

The problem with that kind of communication mishap is that it also happens in marriage.  We may not say waffles and apples, but we do say that we love each other.  The other day I was reading in Philippians and came across this verse about love.  It is Philippians 1:9, “And this is my prayer:  that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight” (NIV).  Paul was writing this to the believers in Philippi, but it is good for all believers, and especially married couples.  We want our love for each other to abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight.  But how do we do that?

One way is to learn how to communicate with each other in ways that we each understand so that when we say “waffles” – or “I love you,” our spouse will hear “waffles” – or “I love you,” not something else like “apples.”  Gary Chapman explains this in his book, “The Five Love Languages.”  He states that there are five love languages and that we tend to speak our own love language.  The problem with that is that our spouse may not speak our love language.  They may speak one of the other love languages.  So when we speak our love language to our spouse, if that’s not their love language, they don’t hear “I love you,” they hear something else like “apples.”  But they want to hear “I love you” because apples don’t really mean much.  So it’s important to know what our own love language is and also to find out what our spouse’s love language is.  Here is the list of the five love languages that Chapman writes about:  Words of Affirmation, Acts of Service, Receiving Gifts, Quality Time and Physical Touch.

If Words of Affirmation is your spouse’s love language, then they like to hear words of praise and appreciation so tell them that you appreciate specific things that they do.  If Acts of Service is their love language, then your actions will mean more than your words to them so do things that help them out, like refilling their glass of Mountain Dew.  If Receiving Gifts is important to your spouse, then be sure to remember their birthday, Christmas, your anniversary and also some “no occasion” days.  Now don’t go overboard on your gifts.  They will probably be very happy with some of those 99-cent cards from the grocery store.  Quality Time may be your spouse’s love language.  If it is, then take time to give them your undivided attention.  Turn off the TV, put down the newspaper and spend some time talking and interacting with each other.  And the last one, Physical Touch.  If that’s their love language, then reach out and touch them.  They will enjoy holding hands with you.

So just like Paul prayed for the Philippian believers that their love would abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, our marriages also can grow as we learn to speak love to our spouse in the ways that they hear love.  Then when we say or do things that say “I love you” they will hear “I love you” and not “apples.”  Because we don’t want to be confused or disappointed through communication mishaps.

**  Here is the link to my original apples and waffles story:  lorischulz.wordpress.com/2012/10/14/wanting-waffles-and-getting-apples/