The ‘Unexpected’ I Love You

In our book Happy Habits for Every Couple, one of the projects we ask you to do for your spouse is to take something they don’t like doing off of their plate, demonstrating signs of true love. Here is how love shows up in our marriage…

Kathi’s View

I’m putting the leftovers away, and I think to myself, It’s been a weird day.

My husband and I have been missing each other all day long.

I was up and out of the house before he got up.

He got home and had to go straight to his office to work; I was downstairs finishing up dinner.

Barely ten words have been exchanged all day.

This is not how a marriage is supposed to go.

Finally I call him down for dinner. We are both so tired. Exhausted, really. People have needed each of us all day long. And while I feel like I have nothing left to give him, I am starting to resent that he has nothing left to give me. I can feel the hurt and anger rising up in me.

But then, out of nowhere, he says he loves me.

Not with words. But with dishes.

I hate doing dishes more than just about anything else in the world. I have no idea why. I just hate doing it. And my husband knows this.

So after dinner, Roger picks up both of our plates and brings them to the sink. He unloads the dishwasher, scrapes our dinner plates, and then loads them into the dishwasher.

Without a word, my husband says, “I love you” in the loudest way possible.

Roger’s View

I have no idea where the cheese grater goes in the kitchen. Which is odd because ten years ago, before Kathi and I got married and she moved in, I knew exactly where it went—somewhere in that “miscellaneous” drawer at the bottom. Good luck. But today, I couldn’t tell you. So on the odd occasion when we have a chunk of cheese that needs to be grated, I have to ask: “Now, where do we keep the cheese grater?” The irony of the “we” in that sentence is not lost on me.

When Kathi first started cooking in my kitchen, she likened it to what it must be like to cook in an undeveloped country. Keeping the kitchen up-to-date and organized was not my forté. I had kids to manage and a boss to keep happy. Take-out was a perfectly valid option.

But Kathi says I love you not only in the things she does, but in the subtle ways she tells me all the things I don’t need to do. My wife has told me what she needs from me—love, respect, affection. The location of kitchen tools? Not high on her list. I don’t have to be perfect to be loved.

As I think about my cheese grater conundrum, I am filled with gratitude that I don’t need to worry about where it goes—at least not until I need to put it away after unloading the dishwasher. (But then, I figure I’m just giving Kathi a little adventure when she has to go hunting.) My wife has my back.

Now if I could just find the hedge clippers…

My dear children, let’s not just talk about love; let’s practice real love. This is the only way we’ll know we’re living truly, living in God’s reality. —1 John 3:18-19 (ᴛʜᴇ ᴍᴇssᴀɢᴇ)

Kathi and Roger Lipp

Published by Intentional Faith

Devoted to a Faith that Thinks

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