How “Johnny Football” Taught Me My Love Language

I’ve never really connected much with that “5 Love Languages” stuff. Legend has it that […]

Howie Espenshied / 12.19.14

bk2010-51I’ve never really connected much with that “5 Love Languages” stuff. Legend has it that if we can figure out what our spouse’s love language is (how he/she best likes to have love communicated) our marriages will be blissful. I don’t remember exactly when my wife and I went through this material together, but it was early in our marriage. I learned from the workbook that my wife likes to receive love most via “gifts” and “acts of service”. That’s a heavy yoke, especially since I am far more skilled in giving and inclined to give the other three – “quality time”, “words of affirmation”, and “physical touch”.

Need a hug? I got this. A creative pet name? I can come up with a new one weekly. Wanna sip some wine and chat on the back porch for 30+ minutes every evening? I’m your guy. However, re-grout the tile in the master bath? Done, if you can let me save for three years so that I can contract that out…and I thought you said you wanted a crock pot for Christmas?

So, yep, there’s a disconnect, though my wife would say that I have “made progress”.  Actually, I think “made progress” is her attempt at communicating “words of affirmation” back to me, since that’s supposedly the love language that I tested out at wanting the most. I never thought that one fit me after I took the test, but there were no “none of the above” options. Thus, needless to say, our marriage of 30 years hasn’t been significantly enhanced by learning these things about each other.

…until maybe this past weekend. ESPN SportsCenter was on TV, and they were spending an entire morning talking about Johnny Manziel ad nauseam in light of him getting his first NFL start. Among the video clips shown were one of Manziel flipping off Washington Redskins players earlier this season. I wasn’t paying attention at the moment, but my wife saw the clip and turned to me and asked “so what do you think about Johnny Manziel flipping everybody off“?


An odd, warm, wonderful feeling immediately consumed me. I hadn’t felt it before, but it was undeniable. My love language is solicit my opinion! After 45 minutes of me following my wife around the house and giving her my answer while she did productive things, she said “Okay, so that’s a Mockingbird post.” I had not simply answered by saying, “He’s just young, he’ll learn”, or “He’s a punk”.  No, I launched into a lecture about how most of the young “running quarterbacks” this season have struggled for a variety of reasons – immaturity, defenses adjusting to them, injuries, etc. I rattled off statistics like, “Did you know that (0ther than Tim Teblow) no Heisman Trophy winning quarterback has won an NFL playoff game since 1989?” I concluded with a full comparison of the downward trajectories of the careers of Johnny Manziel and Robert Griffin III. You can imagine how riveted she was.

I don’t think I will receive a better gift this Christmas than my wife asking me about Johnny Football’s relational skills. Does this mean that she’s now saddled with a new love language to speak? I wonder. Fortunately, I think she’ll learn soon enough that loving me by asking me what I think doesn’t necessarily need to be coupled with active listening. Who knows, if she asks me another open-ended question, it might compel me to go outside and finally deal with the leaves–as long as she can wait a few months for me to buy a leaf blower, that is.