What in the world do I mean when I say “love code”? It’s a kind of code that forms from observations you made growing up. The code can be influenced by your parent’s marriage or another relationship you admired throughout your childhood. What you observed can subconsciously – or perhaps consciously – influence how you relate to your husband or children.
When Mark and I got married we brought very different love codes into our new life together. In my Irish, Italian family, if you were upset with someone it was loving to talk about it in the moment — passionately. In Mark’s more reserved family, the loving thing to do was to talk about it later at a meeting where many issues would be resolved at one time.
My love code with Mark was out there and expressive — “I adore you!” or “I’m frustrated with you.” Mark’s was more like, “we need to discuss something; I will need one hour on your calendar.” I knew he loved me but he didn’t always express it openly. In our disagreements, I would get frustrated about something and he didn’t want to discuss it. Then, when he was ready to talk about it, I had moved on.
Over the years we’ve merged our love codes. Here’s how we did it.
Find common ground.
Even though Mark and I approach things differently, there are areas we both agree on. We both look to God for guidance in how to show love to each other. We both want to be unselfish and kind and show our children that’s what real love is. We don’t always succeed, but at least we have the same goal.
Understand each other.
When Mark and I argue, once we’re done I can move on right away. Mark can’t. He thinks about it and carries it with him. I can go to sleep after an argument, no problem. Not Mark. It used to frustrate me because I felt like he was holding the argument against me, but it’s actually the way he processes what’s happened.
Some components of a love code aren’t right or wrong, they’re just different. As long as those differences don’t hinder your relationship with your husband, accept them. If they do cause problems tell him how you feel without making it sound like his beliefs are the issue.
Create a family love code.
Mark and I will always carry our original love codes with us but now we’ve worked to create a family love code that’s a blend of what we brought into our relationship. Mark is much more demonstrative than I ever thought he would be in showing love to our children. I have learned the beauty of being a calmer listener instead of jumping in while Mark or one of our children is sharing their opinion.
Our family love code also taught our children to show every family member respect in communication and to be willing to sacrifice self-interest for the good of the family.
A love code helps couples and families think about what love really is. What’s yours?