Speaking the Same Language

Back when I used to work in an office, I would occasionally listen to the Dr. Laura Show on talk radio. Don’t get me wrong, girlfriend is nuts, but it was a mildly entertaining way to kill an hour in the car. Who cared if my eyes throbbed from all the rolling?

I remember Dr. Laura once talking about “Love Languages,” the different ways couples give and receive love. Che-ea-sy, I thought, but I must have filed away the information in my head because, lately, I’ve been thinking about the notion a lot.

You might not know it based on some of the posts I write, but Jeff and I are a really well matched couple (in the ways that really matter, at least.) If soul-mates exist, he is no doubt mine. He’s the ying to my yang, the butter to my bread, the every cheesy metaphor out there. The only problem? We speak different entirely different languages.

I’m not talking about the language known as “ignore your wife and hear whatever it is you want to,” although he is well-versed in that as well. I’m talking the way he proves his everlasting love for me and vice versa.

Jeff’s language is green. He expresses his love for people by buying things, which conflicts with my hatred of having money spent on me. It’s a long-standing issue in our relationship and I spend a good deal of my time standing in return lines. Before we shared a bank account, being lavished in unwanted gifts was a mild annoyance, but once married, it just seemed ridiculous. If I want something, I’ll buy it. Flowers die, cards get thrown away and there is no secret present-buying stash of money. It’s all lost on me; I just don’t speak green.

As for me, my language is food. Food makes me happy– planning it, cooking it, eating it. I once heard that the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach and it stuck. I spend hours and hours slaving over the oven and cooking meals from scratch. I try and recreate restaurant dinners he liked. I pretend I’m a cooking show contestant and challenge myself to make the best plate possible. I fuss and fix and taste and fuss some more. For him. But he doesn’t get it. He’d be just as happy with some pasta and jarred sauce or cheap Chinese food take-out over anything I cook.

So why do I do insist on making him fancy meals? Why does he still buy me things? Will we ever speak the same language?

I suppose the only solution is to eat out and have him foot the bill.

Marriage. It’s all about compromise.

About the writer


What started as an innocent on-line baby book to chronicle Jill Smokler’s stay-at-home days with her children, quickly transformed into a vibrant community of parents, brought together by a common theme: Parenting doesn’t have to be perfect. Welcome to Scary Mommy!


Emily 5 years ago

My DH also speaks the language of giving. And it is also hard for me, b/c I’m so not into stuff, and into having a ton of money leftover at the end of the month.

candy barron 5 years ago

I can say that Leno and I have this love language of a different class. Its so strange that i fell like it is all just a dream. We have five children, going into our ninth year of marriage, and it is as though we just met and yet we have known one another for a million years even from another lifetime. Our children even know how to finish our lines. Although, i confess that sometimes i don’t feel the soul connection. It’s so strange.

unibet 5 years ago

Both of you sound really sweet to me, each trying to make the other happy. I guess it really is about compromise.I know what you mean about not wanting to spend money on me. But I guess its good to be treated once in a while.

Natalie 5 years ago

Hi Jill,

I kinda have the opposite problem… 7yrs together and too many special occasions have gone by un-celebrated.
I was in a bitchy mood the other day (not at him) and therefore had no filter. I said “With Mother’s Day on the horizon… you BETTER have something planned! I’m not even gonna pretend you can read my mind, cause based on past years, YOU CAN’T!!
And if all goes well, I will happily reciprocate on Father’s Day.”

I’ll take too much thoughtfullness over his idiocy anyday!!

The Flying Chalupa 5 years ago

I’ll tell you why (and I’m sure above commenters have hit on the same notion) – it’s because cooking makes YOU happy and shopping makes HIM happy. And we think that our happinesses are shared. It’s such a bummer when they’re not, huh? But I, on the other hand, will gladly eat your gourmet meals, Jill, and RAVE about them to the heavens.

Twinisms 5 years ago

I show love with food too. Always too much, to complicated, and under appreciated. But every once in a while I hear him tell someone that he is going to get fat because “she cooks too well.” That’s how I know he loves me.

Summer 5 years ago

Super weird, I am the exact same way. I dont like flowers or cards, seems a waste of money. But love to make a yummy dinner!

Pamela 5 years ago

The key is knowing how the other sees love expressed then do THAT for them. We get so caught up in doing for the other what works for US we forget we aren’t doing it for us. So, you need to learn to buy him things that show him you are thinking about him. And he needs to learn to cook with you, or for you, or something. Find something you like he can safely buy you – new tea flavors, handmade earrings from a few particular designers, items from an amazon wish list you create specially for him to choosing things from, etc. so its a win for you both. As for the cooking, you may have to cook in lingerie for him to get it, haha.

Allison @ Alli ‘n Son 5 years ago

I love cooking and baking too. Thankfully my husband likes it when I make yummy things to fill his belly. He actually wishes he has more time in the kitchen making dishes as well. But cooking is my quiet time, and no way am I giving that up.

Jessica – This is Worthwhile 5 years ago

I think the dinner idea is the perfect solution. I think my “love language” is action. Like, take the trash out, wash my car, make my bed. Combine those and it’s the best foreplay on the planet (or choreplay, as the case may be).

Jessica 5 years ago

Mine is a gift buyer too which I would totally love if he actually bought me things that I liked or wanted. I try the whole cooking to impress him thing too and when I go grocery shopping he asks me to pick up canned spaghetti and meatballs and spray cheese. I can’t seem to cook the bachelor life diet out of him.

From Belgium 5 years ago

It took me awhile, but mine finally understands that a book on pre-modern capitalism is not to way to a womans heart.

Lori Z. 5 years ago

I think we’re very much the same except that my dishes are mediocre and my willingness to pick out his clothes every morning evens out our “gifts” to one another.

Lisa 5 years ago

That’s too funny! I got the book that came from as a “gift” when we refinanced our house…because our lawyer assumed that all young couples needed to read it. I put it off as silly, then flipped through one night and was all “this TOTALLY makes sense”! My husband is a gift sort of guy too…me, I’m thrilled if I come home and the dishes are done! :)

Jill 5 years ago

Matt is not only a foodie … BUT he can tell me any ingredient missing in a meal. Which is both great for a dinner party but F**KING annoying every other minute of the day.

Me? I WANT a little bit of green spent on me … but not so much for the gifts. But rather for the effort that it takes to show me he cares.

Amanda 5 years ago

My husband and I mostly have the same love language. He buys me jewelry and I go to sporting events with him. However, we don’t speak the same jewelry language. I like giganti pieces that can be seen across the room and he likes subdued pieces. To appease my jewelry sensibilities, I buy the jewelry myself! :)

Rachel {at} Mommy Needs a Vacation 5 years ago

I hear ya on the- *If I want something, I buy it.* I totally do that. Josh likes good food so I do the same thing that you do- fuss…and fuss some more. But we do enjoy a good dinner out. Anything without the kids really…

Theresa 5 years ago

Love the compromise. Our dynamic is similar, so I think I’ll implement your solution.

Holly O 5 years ago

I would compare our language skills that of Annie and Helen Keller….

Kristina 5 years ago

Great post.
My husband thinks romance is buying me a bottle of the iced tea that I like once in a blue moon. I’d froth at the mouth if he actually got me a piece of jewelry or bought something he figured out on his own without asking what do you want, babe?
He’s lucky he’s so darn cute.

hatton 5 years ago

That’s funny! And hinting does NOT work.

Theresa 5 years ago

I think it is very important to recognize that men are a different species, completely. I envision the female species as a large beautiful herd of gazelle like creatures that fell in love with a big hairy beast. Good think they are cute, and some of them can cook.

MommyLisa 5 years ago

I wish my husband did ANYTHING nice for me. He does, but really only when he sees I am at the end of my rope.

TWICE, wait three times he has surprised me with something nice. But he very RARELY DOES something nice for me and that is what I really want.

EdgeofCrazy 5 years ago

I kept getting shorted at Christmas. Yeah, yeah, I get that it’s not about the presents, but damn, throw Momma a bone or something. So I started buying stuff for myself FROM my husband-jewelry, clothes, books, electronics. Down the line, he’d ask me where I had gotten a certain piece of jewelry, and I would politely remind him that HE bought it for me for Christmas. Did you forget, silly goose. :)

When he figured out what was up, he knew he had to do something. So now, my best friend waits for his annual call, usually the week after Thanksgiving and after I have given her the list from which he is to choose. NO, NO, NO appliances unless I ask for them- though I do have a beautimus Kitchen Aide mixer that he surprised me with, that wasn’t on the list, but he knew I had been looking at, so I let that one slide.

Edge’s last post……http://edgeofcrazy.wordpress.com/2011/03/30/pinkified/

Skinny Mom’s Kitchen 5 years ago

The real love language is what happens after the kids go to bed 😉 All else is just what leads up to that…hahahaha…but seriously :)

heidi 5 years ago

I’m forever telling Rob I’d rather go out to dinner with him than to have him buy me a present. Food and time, baby, that’s what I’m about. Similarly, I slave over food only to get an “It’s ok” from him. How discouraging!!!

Nathalie Brown 5 years ago

My current degree that I’m doing is a Bachelor of behavioural studies. I can tell you no amount of studying or research makes me understand male behaviour.
Child behaviour- easy
Male behaviour -?????

But I compromise and have been married 18 years even after him buying me some blue pixie slippers for xmas many yeras ago :)

Jamee @ A New Kind of Normal 5 years ago

We had to read the 5 Love Languages as a part of our pre-marital counseling and we have different love languages. He is totally a words of affirmation guy while I am more acts of service (especially since getting sick). We still don’t always hit the mark but it was helpful to know early on the best way to communicate our appreciation for one another!

Lady Estrogen 5 years ago

Ahhh crap – I love presents… especially the ones I’ve personally picked out myself. LOL.

Lindsey 5 years ago

This reminded me of the 5 Love Languages book. My love language was acts of service while exhubby’s was physical touch. My physical touch score was 0 and his acts of service score was 0. I guess that’s why it didn’t work. lol

    Holly O 5 years ago

    I took that same test and got the same answer- now every time my husband empties the dishwasher or puts the clothes away after I have finished the laundry….he sings: There you go: An act of Serrrr-viccccce. It is horrible. Due to that simple fact: I quit touching him!!!

Jessica 5 years ago

We all have different things that make us happy.

Sounds like an excellent compromise to me to eat out and let him pay.

brandi 5 years ago

Good stuff! Lol!

Tera 5 years ago

I love all things food as well…sigh. I’ve really got to work on that! Great post! :-)

The Irish Guy 5 years ago

My wife and I are the mirror image of you and your husband. I enjoy spending money on myself while she refuses to cook for me, even going to the point where she make sure that food I enjoy and would cook for myself is not in the house.

Our love language is sign language I suppose and we often communicate via finger. 😉

A Mommy in the City 5 years ago

I have the same problem with my husband. I would love for him to be more romantic but he just isn’t. I try to show him that I love him by doing things for him around the house and cooking him meals, he just says thanks. I love him more than anything and we are perfect for each other but I wish that we could find each others “love language.”

Jennifer 5 years ago

Our disconnect is that David is really affectionate and touchy, feely and I am NOT. Tell me you love me, give me a kiss and then get out of my way. I’ve got stuff to do. But he likes to cuddle. Blech. Other than that we’ve pretty much got each other figured out. 20+ years will do that for you.

    Scary Mommy 5 years ago

    Jeff is that way, too. If it were up to me, I’d draw a line down the middle of the bed and never allow him on my side.

Kristie 5 years ago

I never read those kinds of books. In fact if the only kind of books I read usually have a half naked, drop dead sexy man on the cover.

tesa de castro 5 years ago

my husband and i are totally different. different like north to south and such. what i love about us, we agree on food. he cooks and i cook also but we have learned to respect each others way of how things are done in the kitchen.

he doesn’t lavish me with gifts but he surely lavish me with attention and care like he fetches me from work. go shopping with me. watch movie together and when i don’t feel well, he takes care of me…

Julie {Angry Julie Monday} 5 years ago

SAME problem here. Although I’m not a foodie…I’m a weird decorator. I like pretty things but I constantly search for the perfect thing, so I never spend money. Husband bleeds money, bleeds it…. The only thing we fight about is his spending. I recently told him that he needs to do the Dave Ramsey envelope thing or something.

Lisa 5 years ago

…or you could do the shopping for the cooking together.

Glad your matched in the ways that count :)

Jesika 5 years ago

I’m a foodie as well. But, one of the things that works SO WELL in our relationship is that I love to be cooked FOR, he is the one that likes to pretend he’s on a cooking show and has been challenged to make the best restaurant reproduction. It behooves my foodie soul to sit back, drink wine, munch on cheese and fruit while my love cooks me a fine meal. Heaven.


Mommy 2.0 5 years ago

Too funny! The problem with my husband and me is that we are both bilingual in spending and food! As a result, we are both fat and poor. Oh well, that’s love!

Lotus Blu Mama 5 years ago

A good friend recommended that book to me, which I immediately ran out and bought. It’s sitting in my bookshelf, the original receipt sticking out from page 80, collecting dust. Sigh.

I appreciate flowers and gifts, but only if they fit in the household budget (ok, even if they don’t, I do accept them graciously.) But like most wives, I have to practically hit my hubby over the head with the exact item, location, color, web link, size and price point of what I want to ensure he gets the right thing.

A woman’s work is never done.

Marta 5 years ago

I’m totally like your husband and buy things to show my love. Specifically for my kids, mostly because he doesn’t want/need anything and the kids always want something =). My husband shows love with time, just being around and being helpful. I wish I was more like him! (So does my bank account!)

Seran 5 years ago

I enjoyed the book the 5 love languages. It was interesting because within minutes of reading a ‘language’ you know where it fits. Another awesome book for a wOman to read is captivating. If you’re of Christian faith( broad term ) you may get more out of it. But I love the post, it’s cute that you two are well suited and make the best of your relationship!

Nicole@MTDLBlog 5 years ago

Fabulous solution! My husband and I joke about who’s “treating” when we’re out for dinner – as if we’re still dating. He always “buys” of course because he’s a gentleman and chivalry isn’t completely dead in our marriage. On date night, he’ll even open the car door. :-)

Sarah 5 years ago

In my marriage, I play both the foodie and the spender. Hmmm…

Alison At BrocanteHome 5 years ago

Oh I so hear ya. It’s a wonder me and mine aren’t in permanent fisticuffs over the stupid things he will insist on doing and all the great, wonderful gloriously sensible things I will NEVER give up…

We rub along just fine. Thanks for reminding me their are others fighting the good fight daily…

christi 5 years ago

My hubby and I just had a conversation about my upcoming birthday. Since marrying almost 2 years ago and combining accounts, we now can’t figure out how to buy gifts. It all comes from the same pot of money. Kinda takes all the fun and romance out of it.

julie gasparro 5 years ago

wow! this is so my husband and i as well! same! i so totally relate! Love, love your posts! you’re an amazing writer! i laugh every day! xoxo :o)

Amanda 5 years ago

I read the children’s version of the Love Languages book. Cheesey? Yes. True? Yes. My husband and I speak different love languages too, but that’s ok. I know that, and know that sometimes things just get lost in translation. As long as I keep that perspective, it keeps me from those moments where I want to rip his head off (and probably vice versa).

vanillasugarblog 5 years ago

well i’ll happily take that jewelry off your hands.
i love to be spoiled–rotten of course. and i’m not afraid to say it.
can we afford it, no. but a girl can dream.
and of course all the fancy food i make/experiment with, my hubby hates and prefers a pizza (not my pizza either). ain’t love grand?

Rachael 5 years ago

I soooooo relate. Love my husband, but I swear he’s from outer space.

Nessa 5 years ago

12 years of marriage and my husband and I are still speaking different love languages. Good thing he’s the cheese to my cracker!

StephanieinSuburbia 5 years ago

Ha! I was watching Real Housewives of Atlanta (don’t judge me) and this subject came up. Phaedra, little miss society wife, basically said that she totally thinks love comes from material things people give her. And her husband? Time, he says he gives with time. Probably b/c the only money comes from her.

I’m like this with my husband. I love to buy things when I see them and they really speak to me, and that makes him uncomfortable. I also love to get little surprises, too, though. But LITTLE! I love the necklace he bought me, don’t get me wrong, but the best presents? He bought me orange soda and chocolate bars every Friday during my pregnancy. The other day I was whining how I was underappreciated, he came home with flowers and did the dishes. I’m not sure what that means re: my love language. Maybe I just like having stuff done for me :)

Great post!

Jen 5 years ago

Ha! Sounds like going out to dinner is just want you need.

Crystal 5 years ago

That’s funny, I used to do that. Now I only cook up the special food when it’s what I want and I’ve got the time. Homemade bread was totally lost on him most days.

Nina 5 years ago

Loved this post, Jill. I still remember one of your earliest posts when you were giving away a pair of earrings from Jeff. Or did I make that up? There was definitely something about a pair of earrings. I’m with you on flowers and all that. It’s a waste of OUR money!

    Scary Mommy 5 years ago

    About a year after I started blogging, I switched to WordPress and in the process, lost all of my subscribers. It was awful. Around the same time, Jeff got me these diamond earrings (at half off! what a deal!) that I didn’t even like. Of course, they couldn’t be returned. I sobbed and sobbed, nobody’s ever going to find me! I may as well give up! And, he suggested I give them away. It worked and totally brought people back. So, I guess that purchase was kind of worth it.

WebSavvyMom 5 years ago

–>My husband is the spender and I’m the saver. If we were both the same we’d either be broke or filthy rich, I prefer what we have now.

Alexis 5 years ago

I’m 100% with you in my dislike of gifts. Especially (as you said) I generally see it as wasting OUR money on stuff I don’t WANT. Last year’s birthday gift was some ridiculously expensive silk thong thingie. I wished I could have skipped the whole put-away-to-pretend-it-will-get-worn-someday-cuz-it-won’t step and just put it directly in the garbage.

BTW – my informal research suggests all men have the SAME love language and (surprise surprise) it’s sex!

Vinobaby 5 years ago

I feel your pain. It took me YEARS to convince my Hubby that no, I really did not want or need yet another piece of jewelry for a present. I’m a practical girl on a budget. I don’t get dressed up to run to the grocery store, and I really don’t think the check-out clerk will be impressed by my emerald and diamond necklace paired with flip flops and shorts.

I discovered it is not his fault. My Monster-In-Law (oh, did I just actually type that?) believes that a “gift” can only be something you would never buy yourself. Yeah, makes her a joy to buy for, considering she already has filled four closets and three jewelry boxes with her toys.

But I feel for my Hubby as well. Since I am so practical, he gets underwear and socks for Christmas when he would love video games and DVDs or other electronic toys. He is not so impressed.

But I am POSITIVE he is going to adore what I did for him for our upcoming anniversary. Something extremely out of character (and budget) for me. And kinda out of clothes as well…

After nearly 11 years of marriage I’ve discovered it takes a little give, a little take, and a LOT of wine sometimes…

Alison 5 years ago

I’m fortunate my husband and I speak the same language when it comes to proving everlasting love. I say, hey, nice Android phone you got there! And the following week, I’m presented with said phone. Yay!

He emails me recipes of things he’d like me to cook. I email him back and say, we’ll see. Hah!

Tanya 5 years ago

I almost died when I read you listened to Dr. Bitch. She is the bane of my existence as a mother and woman. Ohh and my stupid sister worships at her feet, then turns around and judges me.

The book is called The 5 Love Languages. It’s written by Dr Gary Chapman. I really enjoyed it. Read it in high school. Yeah there’s a lot of cheese but there’s a lot of good information too.

I like your compromise LOL. Eat out and let him foot the bill. Perfect!

    Scary Mommy 5 years ago

    Oh, Dr. Laura is AWFUL. But, it totally killed an hour in the car and got me all fired up. I ought to start listening to her again. Good blog fodder.

      Tanya 5 years ago

      Don’t you know she’s off the air after her “N” word rant?! I threw a little party to celebrate the down fall of Dr. Bitch.

        Scary Mommy 5 years ago

        Gasp! I had no idea. I think I live under a rock. Wow!

liz 5 years ago

Man, I think that’s THE best compromise around! I love food, too, though hate being the one preparing it.

I don’t return gifts bestowed upon me, though Craig and I, in general, are not into the gifts. In fact, we’ve talked about making a point to give each other gifts for holidays now that the girls are older and notice stuff like that.

Lynn MacDonald (All Fooked Up) 5 years ago

That’s so funny because I don’t do shit for my husband and he’s given up on buying me things. I suppose the point is that eventually he will learn.

I wanted an iPad last June for my birthday though. I said to buy it for me on June 20th or on June 21st I’d go to the Apple Store and buy it myself.

I got an iPad for my birthday.

And that’s how it’s done!!!

Mary 5 years ago

Im always asking my husband to “just be romantic”. After almost 20 years together he just doesnt get it. I tell him it doesnt mean BUY me something. For Valentines Day. I told him again. Dont buy anything just be romantic. Cook me dinner instead of me doing it. Buy my favorite ice cream and watch a movie with me. Does he do it? NO. He ignored the whole thing. Not even a card! I love flowers and he wont buy them. Simple tulips and I would be happy. Im not a rose person. Monday was my birthday. Im not sure what clicked in his head or if my teenage boys finally got it through to him. He cooked me dinner, spent the day with me shopping, and bought me a very nice charm bracelet. Ive just had to learn to bend to his ways also.

    Scary Mommy 5 years ago

    Glad to hear he finally got it right!! 20 years is a lot of practice. And, happy belated birthday. :)

Jana @ An Attitude Adjustment 5 years ago

Dr. Laura probably stole that love language thing, because I heard it before, but not in relation to her. Yeah, my hubs and I are still trying to figure out love languages, but he is more like you, spending a lot of time making food and often, too much. Then I think, “What are you trying to do to me? I can’t eat all of that!” And I agree that flowers die. So my love language is money, but it’s him handling the money so I don’t have to. That or planning a night out for us, or making a much needed appointment. All of those planning ahead things get me hot! (I’m boring.)

Joanne 5 years ago

We had to read the Love Languages book as a part of our premarital counseling. And let me tell you how much I LOVE that crazy Dr. Laura! Sometimes she said some great things and other times she said some really WTH things! :) I wrote a post many, moons ago about this same thing because my hubby and I are very much on the same page about most things, but like you said our love languages are completely different.

Life with Kaishon 5 years ago

I remember when he got you that necklace you deplored! Has he gotten any better? I am glad you found your yin!

    Scary Mommy 5 years ago


    He was great for a while, but recently bought me a large piece of art that I had casually remarked on liking as we passed it in a store. As in, oh, that’s nice. Not, I want and need that in my house.

    It wasn’t returnable. I’m still bitter.

      Jennifer 5 years ago

      You could host another giveaway. LOL Kidding of course.

        Scary Mommy 5 years ago

        Shhhh. Don’t give him any ideas.


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