5 Ways He Can Say: “I appreciate you”
In writing this piece I am making the assumption that you and your husband share a good relationship. (If the challenges of having a disabled child are proving too stressful and you and your husband do not share a good relationship, then you must get help now. Nothing is more important for you both and your child. If you contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org I can assist you to find the help you need.)
If you and your husband are a good team, the demands on you from your disabled child (and the rest of your family) may leave you feeling stressed and exhausted, but you are on the same page in deciding how to care for and nurture your child. Of course you may have differences at times, but you come to agreement (and stay friends in the process).
Like most of us parents of disabled children, you and your husband probably have little “private” time together. Each of you has demands and commitments which just don’t leave enough time to do the things you enjoy doing together. It may even get to a point where you feel like you are doing everything by yourself. If you heard from your spouse with some regularity how much you are appreciated it would dispel the feeling of isolation, wouldn’t it?
There is a theory popularized by Dr. Gary Chapman that men and women respond to five “love languages”. They are:
- words of affection
- physical touch
- acts of service
- quality time
Dr. Chapman claims that each of us has a “primary” language that communicates to us that we are loved. Of course, we are likely to respond to all five languages, but one of them says it best. To find your spouse’s primary love language use each one (a few times) and see which one generates the most response. Then use that one to communicate to your husband that you are “with” him.
Of course you want to know that your husband is “with” you. But as you may have learned already, men are notoriously unskilled in relating emotionally. (Not all men, of course.) If yours is unskilled take heart to know that most likely he is teachable. Especially if he is given clear instructions. Of course you would like his validation without having to tell him to give it, but he may be too distracted or stressed right now to do so. Or he could be so wrapped up in himself that he rarely acknowledge others.
But you deserve his validation. Start with the 5 love languages approach. It is easy to use, not threatening, and may work. Tell him the following:
- That you appreciate him so much for all that he does for you and the family
- That you know how many demands there are on him
- Tell him that you learned about the 5 love languages; tell him what they are
- Ask him which one would tell him best how much you appreciate him
- See if he gets the message and asks you for your primary love language
If this doesn’t work you might need the sledge hammer approach:
- Tell him (without anger but firmly) that you want to hear from him once in a while how much he appreciates you
- Tell him the 5 ways he can show you
- Tell him to try out each one to find your primary language
- (Play him along trying out each one; they all feel good)
- Eventually, tell him which of the 5 really works for you
When the two of you are speaking each other’s language, you will be on the same page. Once again, nothing is more important for you and your child.
I can’t guarantee results. But this is a start. What keeps a man wrapped up in himself, particularly if there is a disabled child in the picture can be extremely complex. Try the 5 love language approach and see if he responds. If so, you have a winner. If not, contact me at email@example.com) and we can explore other approaches.)