“I think we need to see a marriage counselor.”
I am standing in the middle of our bedroom watching Sam undress. The warm summer evening brings only the slightest of breezes through the open window directly above our king sized bed. I allow myself to be distracted briefly, by the dancing curtain that frames the window. Out of the corner of my eye, I watch as Sam methodically places his watch on the nightstand, and sets his alarm clock. Sam is thorough and measured, things I love most about him, yet at times, can make me pull my hair out in frustration. He sits down on the bed, the mattress sagging a little under his weight. I hear his sigh and turn to face him fully as he runs a hand over his chin stubble. I wait until finally his eyes meet mine.
"A counselor." He says. Not a question, though I can hear his wheels turning, processing this request that, to him, is coming out of seemingly nowhere. I step forward, falter, open my mouth to speak, close it again. I shut my eyes against the gaze of my beloved. Why do I suddenly feel reticent?
“I’m concerned about us.” I try to sound casual despite the seriousness of this moment. I move to my side of the bed and pull the covers back. The book I’ve been reading, The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman, is on my pillow and I move it aside. Sam glances at it, disinterestedly, waiting.
As he lies back against the pillow the broadness of his chest beckons me. I know I could crawl up against him, lay my head on his chest, that his arm would automatically encircle me. The sweetness of that image fills me with a yearning and my eyes fill with tears.
“Molly? Sweetheart, what is this about?”
“I’m worried about us.” I repeat. “We seem so… disconnected.”
He does not speak, but waits for me to go on. I knew he is expecting examples. I had several on my mind earlier in the day when I was contemplating this talk, had in fact highlighted some portions from the book sitting just out of reach, and consider now, reading from it. But Sam wants to hear me, hear my words.
“We go for days without… any intimacy. Our hellos and goodbyes are sometimes… careless. I start feeling adrift. I need…”
I stop, considering my word choices. My love language is touch. My copy of the book, with its highlighted paragraphs, emphasizes what my needs are. So simple, really, I think, for Sam to provide what I need.
The tears that had just been glistening in my eyes are now choking me and I cannot speak.
“Come here.” He says patiently, and I lean into him, into that safe haven that has been beckoning me since we crawled into bed. As I had imagined, his arms pull me close, his lips press against my hair, my head, my cheek.
“This is what I need.” I whisper.
And, Sam, who knows me so well, who knows what my love language is, sighs deeply.
“I’m sorry Molly. I get so focused on the demands of the day to the exclusion of everything else. Never have been very good at multi-tasking.”
Sam's love language is affirmation. I can speak it effortlessly, while Sam struggles to supply mine. It is the bump in our otherwise smooth relationship.
“You are a good provider. I appreciate your focused commitment to those things.”
“I hear the 'but' coming.”
That we can laugh fills me with hope again, enough to give me the confidence to speak my needs strongly.
“But. I need to be what— who —you focus on now.”
Eyes held steady, we contemplate this. Sam caresses my check and my insides melt. Then, slowly, tenderly, we kiss. It is amazing. I am filled with rapture and my dreamy sigh tells Sam words that only he can hear.
“Do we still need to see a counselor?” He teases as he dislodges the book from where it has come to rest under his hip. “Or,” he holds the book up, “should I just read this again?”
“Just practice it.” I murmur.
We sink back into the pillows, enveloped in our love, as the book slides, unnoticed, off the bed.
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