Cats aren’t the smartest creatures.
I made the mistake of multi-tasking the other day: feeding Snowball while blending my protein shake. (Man, is that blender loud!)
Though she’d been squawking her hunger all morning, she wouldn’t eat because she hadn’t heard the food clink into the bowl.
- She approached her bowl repeatedly.
- She could see the food in it.
- She could smell the food in it.
- But because she hadn’t heard the brown crunchies hit the metal bowl, she was unaware she’d been fed.
And there was nothing I could do to convince her otherwise. (Have you ever tried to convince a cat of anything?)
When I picked up some of the food and dropped it back into her bowl, she came running with her characteristic “mew”, which apparently means, “Mmmm, it’s breakfast time!”
Yep. It’s disturbing how not-bright she is. “No frontal lobe,” said my young son matter-of-factly. He’s clearly related to a brain scientist.
But as I chuckled at having to “re-feed” the cat, I wondered if there are ways I can be just as dense.
Am I smarter than my cat?
Then it occurred to me. I had just read Gary Chapman’s The Five Love Languages. It’s a fine book. The premise is that we each have a different love “language” – something that makes us feel particularly loved.
- Some folks prefer words of affirmation (“You look great today!”).
- Others most enjoy acts of service (when hubby drives the kids to school).
- Some people feel most loved by physical touch – a hug or a hand on their shoulder.
- Still others especially enjoy receiving gifts.
- And finally, some individuals most prefer when their spouse spends quality time with them.
It’s a good premise. I love my husband and I want to do things that show him that love. But according to the author, it’s easiest for us to express love in our own love language than it is in our husband’s.
The premise: With everything that competes for my time, if I’m going to put effort into being loving toward my husband (and I am!), I might as well exert effort in areas that feel most loving to him.
I agree whole-heartedly.
But perhaps that’s only half the story.
How do I receive love?
Do I consider my sweetie’s gestures loving only when they’re in my primary love language?
Perhaps I don’t think of his fixing the sink as an expression of love. But if he means it as a loving act (and trust me – he does!), then shouldn’t I learn to receive it as such, and be grateful?
If I keep waiting for him to show love to my specifications, am I being like the cat?
There’s plenty of food in the dish, but because I didn’t hear the clinkety-clank, I wander around as if I haven’t been fed?
Sometimes we can overlook the ways our spouse shows love because we’re waiting on that one specific gesture. (Um, Valentine’s Day anyone?)
But that’s the beauty of being human – we have larger frontal lobes than my cat.
And we can choose to accept all of our husband’s behaviors as acts of love. Because, I guarantee, that’s how he intends them.
But… those darn frontal lobes
Although it’s better to have frontal lobes than not, sometimes they’re too efficient for our own good.
- You see, our brains also tell us stories.
- And hold grudges.
- And put on an amazing toddler impersonation, protruding lip and all.
Despite all the evidence around us, no matter how hard our spouse tries to show his love, we can (and in a willful moment sometimes do) decide to be upset.
We can choose to feel bad about our husbands. We can decide they don’t love us, or that they’re not trying hard enough.
Our frontal lobes can search our memory banks for the last time he bought us flowers. We can compare his actions to our friends’ husbands’.
So we need to be careful. We want to use our frontal lobes enough to recognize the many ways our husbands show us their love. But not so much that we start comparing and telling ourselves stories.
And something that happened five years ago? At this point that’s a story. Time to let it go.
Because, unlike my cat, we can recognize the discrepancy. We want love from our husbands, and it’s there for us. We just have to receive it.