Hello all! I grew up in a family of huggers. How many of you know what I mean? My parents never let us go to bed or leave the house without hugs. Even if we were only going to be gone an hour, our parents would not let us out the door without hugs. Tight, squishy, all-enveloping bear hugs. “I love you,” always accompanied those hugs as well as admonishments like, “Be safe, be careful, call when you get there…” sorts of stuff. I’m grateful to and for my parents!
Enter my husband…who did not come from a family of huggers. His family shows love by serving one another. Especially with home repairs, yard or remodeling projects, building, painting, home or office decorating, errands and other practical, hands-on, work-oriented physical labor type of things.
It took me a few years–and a special observation from a dear friend–for me to figure this out. You see, after the honeymoon phase of my marriage, I began to doubt my husband’s love because he’s not the affectionate sort…and I’d grown up to know love by my family’s affection and words of affirmation.
My beautiful, God-loving friend Pamela aka Pammer James (pictured above) and her family came from Kansas to visit us in Illinois for a few days once. After a couple days, Pammer approached me, smiling. She nodded toward my husband and said thoughtfully, “I’ve been observing you guys together. He loves you quietly, doesn’t he?”
Her words stopped me in my tracks. I didn’t understand what she meant but then she explained that he demonstrates his love and care by doing things for me. So I began to realize his way of showing affection was to serve me. And boy does he! I’m thankful for Pammer and her perceptiveness. As she spoke those life and hope-giving words into me, I felt the presence and spirit if God speaking assurance to my heart. He used my softhearted, discerning friend’s timely but sweet-spoken truth to help combat the enemy’s lies that my husband’s feelings were faltering. The thing is, he never was a hugger. So it wasn’t like he’d changed.
Shortly after this, I read the Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman and that book helped me realize that people receive and show love in different ways. Dr. Chapman refers to this as your love language. Some people need quality time. Some need words of affirmations. Some prefer to give gifts to show love, etc. I’m guessing that there are more than five love languages.
My husband shows me he loves me by serving our family and working hard to provide for us. He helps around the house with chores and he helps a ton with the kids. I made it my mission to figure out my husband’s love language and I try to serve him as well. I am happy to report that I have been pretty successful at turning his family into huggers. His grandma had the funniest reaction the first time I forced her to hug me. Pretty sure she thought I was nutty. But I made it my mission to get them comfortable receiving hugs. :-) What about you? Are you a hugger? Do hugs make you nervous or feel like someone’s invading your space? How did your parents or other caregivers show you love growing up?
Have you read the Love Language book? If not, here’s more information on it by Focus on the Family. If you have read it, what’s your love language? What are some ways you show your spouse or loved one you care?
I look forward to hearing your thoughts and stories! :-) Thanks for sharing life with us!
Warmly, Cheryl Wyatt
Jill Weatherholt says
I love Pam’s observation and words, Cheryl. Growing up, my parents always displayed their love for me and my sister through words and hugs. I’m definitely a hugger, and I openly tell those I love how I feel.
Nice to know I’m not the only one, Jill. LOL! Hugs (wink)!
Growing up in a German home my parents and most of my friends parents did not display their affections to each other or to us kids, but we through their caring actions we knew they loved God, each other, and especially us children. They lovingly took care of us. Christmas, Easter, and our birthdays were very very special – new clothes, favorite foods, birthday cake, party with family and friends, and gifts. The five love languages is a reminder that God made us all unique and special – in how we were raised and how we interact with others. Today in our family, while the children are young we are more touchy feely, but by middle school and older it is through service and showing our love on their birthdays and holidays.
Renate, that is wonderful about the holidays. Makes them even more special, I’ll bet. :-)
Valerie Comer says
I love The Five Love Languages so much I have often given a copy as a wedding shower gift. It’s made a huge difference in our household. While I’m nearly always up for a hug, my love language is service: if you love me, you will help me with stuff. My husband’s is words of affirmation with a side helping of giving gifts!
Giving the book as a wedding gift is such a great idea, Val!
I also grew up in a family where hug were a part of everyday life. I have had to learn how to read people to know not to offend by offering a hug. There are not a lot hugs given out these days but I treasure the ones I get. As you said some people have learn how. i have not read the book but I have put it on to read. Thanks for the thoughtful message.
I love your sensitivity in learning how to read people to know not to offend. I’m completely sure I’ve breached people’s personal space with hugs before. LOL!
Shelia Hall says
I’m from a long line of huggers and teaching my daughter to be one too! I have friends who are like your husband show their love by serving instead of hugs which is great too
Yes, totally! :-) Thanks for stopping by!
Winnie Thomas says
Yep! Definitely a hugger! Not so much when I was younger, although our family hugged a lot, but now my friends all get hugs when I see them! Love a good hug!!
Me too, Winnie! Me too. :-)
Julianne Archer says
I grew up in a non-demonstrative family. I think I knew that I missed that, because my husband and son get hugs (at least when the son lets me-teenagers!) and “I love you” regularly. It took time to get used to non-family people hugging me though and it does feel like they are invading my personal space. I’m working on it though because heartfelt hugs are the best!
It’s nice to hear things from a different perspective. Thanks for sharing! :-)
Your story could be my story. I married my husband knowing because of his background he might not hug. You see he’s Japanese, but I was determined that wouldn’t be a problem.
After a few years I too started questioning if he really loved me. It was at that time I heard a woman speak about the book and we started reading it together. One thing she said really got me, we can speak all we want in our language, but if it’s not their language they won’t understand it.
Like going to the drive thru and not being able to understand the person on the speaker and when you pull up to get your order it’s all wrong.
We both learned what each other’s language was and also our children’s and this has made all the difference. Sure there are still days when we get frustrated but those are usually days our eyes are on ourselves and not the other person.
Like you, I too have hugged my husband’s parents even tho it’s not something they do. Just recently when we were leaving from a visit they both gave me big deep hugs. Wow! That was amazing!
Awww! That’s so sweet about the hugs from your in-laws. The image almost made me cry-but in a good way. Thanks for sharing.
Gail Hollingsworth says
I grew up with huggers. My husband did not. Over the years I’ve changed into him. He’s not affectionate, but I still like that and a little romance. But I don’t hug nearly as much as I did when growing up. Kinda sad.
Awww. I know you must miss it. Maybe one of your grandkids will be a hugger-and you’ll get more than enough hugs to make up for lost hugs. :-)
Narelle Schoonwater says
Thank you so much for your words, Cheryl. It has made me realise that I need to work out the love languages of my two boys. I am a hugger and as they are leaving childhood they are not wanting hugs as much – certainly not in public! So just as I need to know how to love my husband, I need to discern how to love my boys in ways that they will recognise.
I’m not sure I mentioned this in the post, but Dr. Chapman also has a Love Languages for Kids (or possibly teens) book as well. It’d be a great resource for you probably. :-) Blessings!
Linda Herold says
I know what you mean about nonhuggers! I am a hugger!! But nonhuggers just don’t feel comfortable about it , do they!?
Most not at all. I don’t think they quite know what to do with us. LOLOL!
My family is definitely a hugging one! I grew up with lots of physical affection– hugs, kisses, tickles, snuggles, pats, back rubs….. I don’t think a hug has ever made me uncomfortable, unless it was coming from someone I didn’t know (that kinda freaks me out, as I’m pretty particular about who I let into my “personal bubble”).
My mom is 1/2 German & when I was about 7 years old, we started travelling up north every so often to visit her German relatives. I was so confused by the reactions I got when I tried to hug my aunts and uncle! They were pretty stiff and resistant to physical affection and I’ll admit my feelings were rather hurt by that. But the more time we spent around them, I think we rubbed off on them a bit. ;) Now they not only welcome hugs, they also instigate them. It’s such a nice change. ;)
Oh, goodness…yes! The stiff and resistant (great description!) was totally my husband’s granny Mary at first. She eventually would bend her elbows and pat me with her hands but eventually worked her way to hugs. LOL!
Melissa Henderson says
I am a big hugger. My family hugs and we always say “I love you” when we finish a phone conversation and when we are leaving each other from a visit. Even when the family lives right around the corner, we still hug and say, “I love you” each time we go home from visiting. :-)
That’s awesome. Our family is that way too, and I’m glad.
Jessica Browning says
I’ve known of the Five Love Languages for a while and it definitely helps me to understand where my parents and brother are coming from and has helped me realize that I’m definitely an acts of service person. However, none of us are huggers. ;)
Hey, acts of service are a great way to demonstrate love. :-) And nothing gets procrastinated. LOL!
It’s funny, I’m not an overly affection showing person, but God paired me with a husband who is! I love to do things for him, especially cook or make sweet treats. I’m also a much more independent person, but have learned over the years that spending time with him equals happiness for us both! Even the mundane stop at the grocery store is brighter :-) Now I crave whatever quality time we can get together.
We are opposite in some ways, but I’ve learned to adapt to his love language. It makes our marriage so much sweeter.
Yes, how wonderful that love adapts. My husband loves playing board games and cards. We are on a Catan spree these days. I’m fiercely independent (to a fault) but am learning to love the quality time.
I have always been a hugger and some people look at me weird but that’s who I am.
Me too! I totally know the weird looks you mean. LOL!
Someone gave my husband and me The Five Love Languages as a wedding gift and it was such a great thing for us. We read it together right after we married and it really helped us be able to come communicate our love to each other. We’ve been married almost 14 years now and we’ve discovered that our love languages have changed a little over the years. It’s kind of like we’ve rubbed off on each other. I’ve recently been thinking about how I need to really look at each of my children and figure out their love languages as well.
Now that you say that, I realize for us, it’s true as well that we’ve rubbed off on one another in terms of our love languages. Dr. Chapman also has a Love Languages for Kids book.
I am an affection driven person. My husband and I also talk a couple of times a day and always end the conversation with I love you. My girls are also both affectionate as their favorite past time is snuggling. I wouldn’t trade that for anything. Growing up if my mom was mad she with held herself and what felt like her love until she was no longer mad. Often times that made me question if she loved me. I know she does and now realize her love language is gifts. But all I ever wanted was warmth and affection. So, I have vowed to never withhold myself from my girls so they hopefully never wonder
Awww, that must’ve been hard, but I’m glad you realized the way she expressed her love. Maybe it was because she was raised similarly? I’m glad you are perceptive enough to see it. That’s so great.
Beth Erin (@betherin02) says
5 Love Languages is such an insightful book! My love language is words of affirmation and I married a quiet man who loves with his love language which is acts of service. We’ve both improved in each other’s love language and we also share lots of quality time. We need to figure out love languages for each of our children, that’s our next book to get!
It’s been awhile since I read it. Now that my kids are older, I need to reread it because they’re less into snuggles and more into just wanting me to listen. My niece is 20 and still snuggles her mama. :-)
I love how you turned them into huggers. :)