Love is a Many Faceted Thing

February is that time of year where we are surrounded by hearts, cupid’s arrows, flowers, and Valentine’s Day. It is the Month of Love.

There are many kinds of love: between parent and child, between friends, between romantic partners or significant others, and that for our fellow humans. In the Upper Midwest we are known as the strong silent types, and it seems we either have difficulty telling someone we love them, or we wear it out with “I love those socks, that song, that team.”

Love can be expressed in other ways. Consider the recently-married middle-aged couple. Hubby woke up early Saturday morning and took his wife’s car in to get the oil changed. “What!’’ she said, “Doesn’t he know that I can take care of my car myself?!” He, on the other hand, was trying to be nice and express his love by an act of service. This is an example of how things can go wrong when people do not understand each other’s language of love.

Think of the little boy who gives his mother a handful of dandelions, the boyfriend who fixes his girlfriend’s flat tire, the daughter who spends time with her elderly mother, the wife who tells her husband she is proud of him, or husband who holds his pregnant wife’s hand while they walk around the block.

These are all examples of the five different love languages: gifts, acts of service, quality time, words of affirmation and touch. When you know the spirit in which the gifts or acts are done, it will help you “hear” the love behind them. When you are aware of the love language of the other person, expressing your love for him in that manner will be deeply felt rather than misunderstood. It also fills up the “love bank”, says Gary Chapman, author of “The Five Love Languages.”

So, with Valentine’s Day just around the corner, take time to tell people that you love them; use their love language to show them as well. The old adage, “actions speak louder than words” takes on new meaning when both actions and words give the same message. Your Valentine will really know and feel how much you care.

My Adult Child is Addicted/Alcoholic and the Rest of Us Are Falling Apart!

Consider the commercial where a young man says he is never going to get married, never going to have children, never going to move to the suburbs, and never going to drive a van. At the end we see him lying on the couch in his suburban home with his wife and two young children all snuggling together; he says “I’m never going to let go”. This is an excellent example of how becoming a parent changes your heart, your belief system and your life plans. If we fast forward the commercial 25 years and see one of his children living back home and suffering from addiction, he would probably say he is never going to let his child get arrested, thrown in jail or die.

Parental bonds of loving, protecting and providing for our children run deep; even when our offspring are adults. Parents are often empty nesters who are working hard on their future retirement. They worked hard at helping their children become strong, independent adults. Instead, parents are terrified their child is going to end up dead from the addiction that has robbed her of everything.

What’s a parent to do!? Trying to determine what is helpful and what is enabling is complicated especially when you combine it with mama and papa bear whose instinct is to protect and care for him or her.

It’s easy for others to say, “don’t enable,” but that might seem like you would be throwing your child “under the bus”. Deciding to no longer give your child money is fraught with all they might lose. Deciding to feed them however, is nurturing and can provide the opportunity to spend time with your son/daughter.

Figuring out how to hate the disease yet love your child is not easy. There is help and support out there. Families Anonymous and Lost and Found Ministry can help.