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When you forgive, you in no way change the past – but you sure do change the future. Bernard Meltzer

My son and I were talking last night. “The best time to plant a tree was twenty years ago, the second best time is now,” he said.

This is true of so many things, starting a blog, business, healing a wound in our family, and healing a breach in our society.

Some things are so big how do we heal them, how do we make amends? On the weekend we were watching how some of the great monuments have been destroyed by people, some deliberately, some not. One – the only tree in the desert for two hundred miles was hit and destroyed by a motorist. We think – how could you hit the only tree in a two hundred mile radius? The driver thinks – where did that tree come from? How can amends be made for that?

My husband and I were listening to some YouTube videos as we worked yesterday and one came on by Gary Chapman about forgiveness. He is the author of The Five Love Languages. He says, “Many marriages are in the winter phase of their relationship because husbands and wives who love each other and try to show this to their partner aren’t doing it in a way that speaks love to their partner. It doesn’t have to be an old relationship to be in this phase. Some marriages enter this phase after the honeymoon.

He gave an example of a husband and wife that came into his office. “We don’t have money problems,” the wife said, “and we don’t argue.”

“I do everything I can to make my wife happy,” the husband said. “I start dinner because I’m home before she is, I vacuum, I cut the grass, I wash the car, I walk the dog, I do everything I can to make her happy.”

“He never talks to me,” the wife said tears streaming down her face. “He’s so busy cooking, cutting the grass, walking the dog, and vacuuming, he has no time to talk to me. We haven’t had a conversation in thirty years.”

Here this man was doing everything he could think of to make his wife happy. The more he did the less happy she was. When they learned about the five love languages they got out of the winter marriage and into a spring/summer marriage.

Everyone says that love hurts, but that’s not true. Loneliness hurts. Rejection hurts. Losing someone hurts. Everyone confuses these things with love, but in reality, love is the only thing in this world that covers up all the pain and makes us feel wonderful again. Unknown

The five love languages are:

Spending quality time with each other. Would you like to go for coffee? Do you want to watch a movie? Can we go out for dinner tonight? Let’s go for a picnic. A drive in the country. A walk. A shared project.

Words of affirmation. You look great, thank you, that was very thoughtful of you, I couldn’t have managed without you, you’re right, you’re the best husband/wife ever.

Acts of service, doing the dishes, walking the dog, putting gas in the car, vacuuming, cooking dinner, etc.

Physical touch, hugs, a touch on the shoulder, holding hands, a kiss on the cheek.

Gifts, these don’t need to be expensive. Flowers are free much of the year in our own garden.

We can be doing what that man was doing, everything we can think of to make our spouse happy but unless it is in the way that fills their love tank they may feel starved for love and attention when everyone else thinks I’d kill for a spouse like that.

One wife when Gary Chapman pointed out to her that her spouses love language was words of affirmation said, “I can’t think of one good word to say about the man.”

“Does he take a shower?”

“Yes, he takes one every day.”

“Well that’s something to be grateful for,” Gary Chapman said. “There is good in everyone if we look for it.” If we didn’t come from a family that gave compliments and words of affirmation, and they didn’t say I love you this may be a hard language to give to our spouse. We may have come from a family where like the husband above acts of service means I love you.

It may be a real stretch to love our spouse in their love language. If we want to take a winter marriage into a spring/summer marriage it will be worth it.

Gary Chapman found when he looked over his notes after fifteen years of marriage counseling the problems with communication and lack of love fell into five categories. One of the things he noticed is couples rarely had the same love language. They usually tried to do things for their spouse in the love language they spoke; not realizing their spouse had a different language.

He also found when it came to saying we are sorry for something we’ve done there are five different ways people expect to hear an apology. If they don’t hear the apology in their apology language it is as if we haven’t given it. Don’t we sometimes think we’ve said we are sorry over and over and it isn’t good enough? Here’s why.

The five apology languages:

Expressing regret, saying we’re sorry.

Accepting responsibility.

Offering to make restitution.

Genuine repentance – expressing desire to change.

Requesting forgiveness.

In many cases he suggests to be safe we use all five languages to make our apology. How this might look.

I’m sorry for mistakes I made, what I did, said, forgot, how I acted, and the way it made you feel. I take full responsibility for this situation. What can I do to make this up to you? How can I make it better? I will do my very best to see this is not repeated. Will you please forgive me?

Communication is the most important skill we can develop. To be effective we must communicate in the way that is recognizable to the person we are communicating with. These love languages or communication languages can be used in all areas of our life. They can be used with our children, friends, at work, and in social situations. The better our communication skills, the more people feel heard, understood, loved, appreciated, and accepted. If we learn how to communicate in the language others recognize can we heal the relationships in our personal life, workplace, society, and the world?

Don’t wait for other people to be loving, giving, compassionate, grateful, forgiving, generous, or friendly… lead the way. Steve Maraboli

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