Imaginale Design
[[ This is a series of summaries and personal "confessions" and opinions on "The Five Love Languages" by Gary Chapman ]]

Keeping the Love Tank Full

"If we can agree that the word love permeates human society, both historically and in the present, we must also agree that it is a most confusing word. We use it in a thousand ways. [...] If all that is not confusing enough, we also use the word to explain behavior. 'I did it because I love her.' [...] The wife of an alcoholic picks up the pieces after her husband's latest episode. She calls it love, but the psychologist calls it codependency."

Again, Dr. Chapman goes into childhood and how the language of love starts there...

"I liked the metaphor the first time I heard it: 'Inside every child is an 'emotional tank' waiting to be filled with love. When a child really feels loved, he will develop normally but when the love tank is empty, the child will misbehave. Much of the misbehavior of children is motivated by the cravings of an empty 'love tank.'"

I think this applies to many of us, even if we are no longer children:

"Their misbehavior was a misguided search for the love they did not feel."

"The emotional need for love, however, is not simply a childhood phenomenon. That need follows us into adulthood and into marriage. The 'in love' experience temporarily meets that need, but it is inevitably a 'quick fix' and, as we shall learn later, has a limited and predictable life span. After we come down from the high of 'in love' obsession, the emotional need for love resurfaces because it is fundamental to our nature. It is at the center of our emotional desires. We needed love before we 'fell in love,' and we will need it as long as we live."

---

Do you think this is the root of affairs? Granted, there's the involvement of sexual lust -- but do you think women have more *emotional* affairs? The males I have asked about love languages have revealed the following 2: physical touch & words of affirmation. However, I have yet to find a woman who's primary love language is physical touch. Not saying they don't exist -- I just haven't met her.

I found that in college while in a long distance relationship (not with Jose), my biggest temptation was an emotional one. I had a great relationship, so it didn't make sense to me to sometimes have those struggles. It isn't until now, knowing my love language, I see how my love tank was not "feeling" full -- or at least, selfishly, I thought it wasn't. I am a romantic at heart, and when I was not so wise, I weakened at romantic pursuits. For example.... France.

I was at a cafe with a girl friend on my 2nd to last day in France after having worked there the whole summer. This Amsterdam native guy pulls up in his supped up not-really-sports-car-but-looks-like-one car. He is an attractive guy who my friend is obviously checking out. I noticed, but I wasn't "checking out." In fact, I was avoiding that because I could already sense his attraction. Our waitress chats with us and finds out we speak Spanish because we were there in France to teach Spanish. Somehow the message travels to Amsterdam boy, who asks if he could join our table. Conversation starts, my friend keeps giving me the "TALK TO HIM" look and I dart her back a "I HAVE BOYFRIEND" look.

Anyway, at the end of him asking me my birthday and other random questions (that are unfortunately cute...), we have to leave. He walks us to the chateau, and we say our goodbyes. Except, it didn't turn out to be a goodbye. The next day, my last day at work, I am walking the kids from our camp to the pool. On the way back, we pass the cafe (which is en route), and the waitress from the other night is throwing her hands in the air "ALLO!!" She catches my gaze and waves me over madly. I ask one of the counselors to take my place and walk slow so I can run over to her and get back in time. When I get to her, she hands me an envelope and smiles. Confused, I take it, thank her, and run back to the group.

Yeah, go ahead. I'm sure you can guess. It was a card from Amsterdam boy. The worst part? There were puppies on the cover because he remembered me mentioning how much I like photos of puppies, and he wrote me a message in French. Ha. Yes, I worked in France but I don't speak French. My counselor friend does and translated it for me. I'll spare you the details but it was obviously romantic and ugggggggggggggggggggh -- overwhelming! Yup, it ends even better. All the counselors decide we should go out that night (which we got in big trouble for with the director), and little did I know... one of the counselors thought it would be soo funny to invite Amsterdam boy. We went to a club that played tons of techno music, with an air that was full of energy. Everyone danced and everyone had a good time, but I realized how glad I was that I met him my last day and not my first.

My point in my story is that this temptation came on strongly. I mean, it sounds like a movie! Meeting at a cafe, leaving a French note, dancing, blah blah blah. You can see the amount of detail I put into my wedding, so having received that romantic attention through these little details was incredibly weakening. Those actions flirted with my love language -- but it wasn't "love." Which often, many people confuse infatuation with love.

But this opened my eyes to men who are tempted by sexual/physical elements everyday. I mean, I was in a great relationship and those 2 days were killing me. Those tempted by sexual lust have a LOT to battle day by day. I am a strong believer that a man of Christ will turn his face away from those temptations to honor his God and wife/fiance/girlfriend. I find that now, in order to avoid the emotional temptation, I avoid the situation altogether. It gets so easy to justify... to say, "well, I'm not doing anything wrong -- it's a conversation!" But it's more than a conversation. If there is ever a physical attraction, and even more attractive conversation, that is opening a door. I know this sounds very conservative, but we are saturated with temptation -- we HAVE to shield our hearts and eyes if we want to be faithful to our husbands and wives. After all, marriage is "till' death do us part" -- right?

Mind you, this does not mean avoid a great conversation with an attractive person. You can't avoid pretty people for the rest of your life. But we are also not stupid and know when we feel an attraction sexually and emotionally. That's when you cut it. I actually heard a story from this book about a guy who was addicted to porn. He gave it up, went to counseling, found God, and met his wife. Then he found himself looking forward to the Sunday newspaper to grab the department store catalogs. He would flip to the lingerie section, which wasn't Victoria's Secret -- but there were women in bras. It's not pornography, but guess what? It's the SAME sin -- lust. Inviting those thoughts, whether images of sex or pursuits by someone who is not your partner, will not, I repeat, not allow you to develop a faithful relationship with not only your partner, but God.

Temptation is a completely different animal that can be discussed in many, many posts. And if you don't believe in God, that's fine. However, I can't imagine understanding a selfless love without believing in God. And from the bottom of my heart, I can't imagine a healthy marriage (remember, I said healthy) without selfless love.

"Falling in Love" is next.

So what do YOU think about temptation? Do you think removing yourself from these situations i
s crazy conservative, or appropriate? On a different note, what are your thoughts on the idea that "misbehavior, withdrawal, harsh words, and critical spirit occur because of [an] empty tank?"
3 Responses
  1. jvidal Says:

    Great post, my love!

    I wanted to add some points that I feel take this question out of the arena of subjectivity and sets a fundamental truth that is relevant and applicable to anyone regardless of their beliefs.

    Andy Stanley sums it up in The Best Question Ever, where he deconstructs our natural instinct to push the envelope of "innocent morality" with a hope to reconstruct a more foolproof method of decision making. Listen to the podcast if you've got the time (it can be life changing if you let it); otherwise, I'll pull out some of the best points:

    "Every wrong or immoral decision we make is preceeded by a series of seemingly harmless, but unwise, decisions."

    I think this speaks to the natural man/woman in all of us. The point here is that if we don't take responsibility for our actions, our actions will have the potential to take control of us. Andy uses the age old story of co-workers that start off just "going to lunch" and at each progressive step justify and rationalize the right they have to take that step. 5, 10, 20 steps later, if your actions are still in control of you they will potentially lead you to ruin. Remember, it is not that any of the steps along the way were inherently wrong or immoral, but the sum of the parts is often a place we never fathomed we could end up.

    He also offers that "Asking 'What is the wise thing to do?' will lead you away from moral disaster."

    But I think more importantly here is that asking that question will lead you to moral prosperity. If you take into consideration everywhere you've been, everywhere you are, and everything you want to be - determining the wise thing to do can only enhance your life, your relationships and in turn your love tank.

    Long post - I hope this makes sense.


  2. Jenn Says:

    Eek, this is such a touchy subject! Some people, myself included, don't want to appear "mean" so we treat everyone nicely. Sometimes if one party has stronger feelings for the other, they miscontrue niceness for flirting and ultimately someone gets hurt.

    On a different note, I have a friend in a situation right now where she has super strong feelings for a guy but there's a catch, he's her ex's roommate. She's known him for years and feels that if she moves on and starts seeing someone else she'll always wonder "what if?" I think this is problem in a lot of relationships, people don't want to live with that "what if" so they indulge in affairs that they shouldn't. Again, ultimately someone always gets hurt.


  3. Ale Says:

    Jenn -- haha, we are TOO alike. My fiance tells me I am too nice all the time and I have DEFINITELY put myself in situations where I thought "Oh no, this is being taken much too differently..." but I don't have the heart to be harsh!

    I know completely what you mean about the "what if" feeling. Especially people who tend to "reminisce" can fall into that quite often. About your friend -- it all depends on the relationship between the guy and her ex. Maybe he can consider moving out and they could wait a month? That's tricky =\