Somewhere between birth and age fifteen, some societal stereotype or little voice in my ear lead me to believe that I would magically meet the one, get married, buy a house, land the perfect job, maybe even have kids, and then live happily ever after.

Of course, this would include occasionally jetting off on little beachside holidays and frequent dinners out—with our beautiful children peacefully, happily playing along, always immaculately presented, smiling and without tantrums. Haha. ?

Then I had kids and realized not only had we done things the hard way, but even doing things the easy way would never be trouble-free.

Marriage is hard work.

I mean, I love my husband and can honestly say I wouldn't wish to spend my life with anyone else—but he does some things that absolutely drive me insane (as I'm sure I do to him), and each and every day I make a decision to either badger on about his downfalls, or push them aside and focus on the positives.

Every day I make a decision to parent and live in line with our common values, or to habitually put my own desires first. Some days are so much harder to do this, and it would be so much easier to focus only on my desires and values. After all, I’m only human, and marriage is hard.

But most days it is so worth the extra effort to love and live with him.

I've spent years having a coffee made when my husband wakes, making his lunches, and having dinner on the table when he gets home. I’ve cooked and cleaned, thinking that this is what would make him happy, that these tasks are what would fill his love tank.

Similarly, my husband has spent years working day in and day out for our family, buying me expensive, unnecessary gifts and organizing dinners to lavish restaurants, thinking that these are the things that would fill my love tank.

Eventually I became resentful because he wasn't doing what I wanted or needed him to do to fill my tank—at this point, I wasn’t even acknowledging his efforts.

And then I realized...

I had never told him how I needed to be loved.

I had never mentioned that words of appreciation, words of love and words of gratitude spoke louder to my soul than childfree dinners at overly priced restaurants.

I never mentioned that I didn’t care whether I received a $300 bracelet or a $3 scratchie, I'd just love a heartfelt card with it.

I never told him that my love language was words of affirmation, and so he didn't know. He was trying to make me happy, but it was like filling a vehicle with unleaded when it needed diesel—it was doing more harm than good.

After reading The Five Love Languages, I realized that we had different love languages. My husband had been loving me the way he wanted to be loved, not how I felt loved.

And I hadn't told him otherwise. Instead, I just built resentment.

I've since told him, and he's trying. As a man of few words and even fewer emotions, it seems ironic that my love language is probably the hardest for him to do. And yet, he's trying, because now he knows that is what fills my love tank.

Similarly, I’m trying harder to give him more quality time, his love language, by focusing solely on him, not multitasking, not getting sidetracked, just soaking up his presence and our love.

PS. This doesn't mean I'm giving up child-free dinners—I mean, those are the best opportunities to speak words of affirmation!