How could I love you better?

The other morning was the worst ever.

Worst morning since I became a mother and, Id venture to say, worst for the Tornado *ever-ever.*

It’s unimportant what sparked it (take tired, cross with having just done the new dog thing all too recently, slather solo parenting on top and you’ve an inkling)–it just felt yucky and wasn’t how either of us strive to behave/live.

I dropped the Tornado at school, headed home to try and tire out Charming work, yet couldn’t shake the That sucked. It really was all my fault. feeling.

What could I do to make it up to her? I apologized–but want to do more.  I could spring her early from school? Bring her to Frozen? Take her for a manicure?

I walked. I pondered. I had nothing.

None of my ideas made me think:

Yes! That’s exactly what would show her how much I love her and how sorry I am.

I reflected on what she does for others to express love.

I didn’t need to think too hard as her declarations encircle my wrist (hello rainbow loom!), wrap around my neck (yay! shrinky dink necklaces!) and hang all over the house.


Her love language is receiving gifts and, more specifically, homemade items.

I walked to the store, purchased the brightest poster board I could find, and made her a gigantic card of apology.

The thing is, because she’s 8 & my sidekick, I knew how she needed to be loved-up.

It’s not as clear with other adults or older children (sad-face. I know more complicated is coming).

This experience brought to mind an article which addressed this:

Asking important people in our lives to tell us EXACTLY how we could love them better.

Making time before turbulence to ask them to define what we could do to make them feel better loved and cared for.

The author referred to loving unselfishly.

The phrase resonated with me as who among us has *not* loved someone the way we want to be loved–either out of habit, ease or in an attempt to make ourselves happier.

How could I love you better?

After our terrible, horrible, no good, very bad, morning I vowed to asked my loved ones this question.

To find out what they need on a day to day level and–admittedly–should tense times arise.

For me the question feels neither scary nor threatening.  I anticipate some “OH, I had no idea!!” reactions on my behalf–yet in my mind that wouldn’t be a reflection of my failings.

I didn’t know.

I now know.

I finally asked.

How could I love you better?

For me there’s also no trepidation with regards to the response (listen more. be more present. do more for me.) because I’d finally know.  I’d possess the information.

And information, for me, always feels empowering.

And you?

  • Would ask your loved ones “how can I love you better?”



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  1. says

    I love this! When I feel like I’ve disappointed my kids, I make it a point to spend one on one time with them. Reading, cuddling, drawing – whatever that devotes my 100% attention. They are happy. I am happy. I feel the love.

    • Randi says

      I can easily flip out too.
      And then back up and apologize.
      I’ve not considered if my aplogizing is done how they “need” though.

      Interesting post.

  2. says

    I had the SAME kind of morning the other day w/ my 9-yr. old daughter–wonder if it was the same day?! It felt awful to send her to school after that. I really, really love this idea and will put it into practice this morning.

  3. says

    You two are so sweet. I know everyone had different love languages – shoot, even different ones they speak in and receive love. In my marriage I’ve learned we’re polar opposites – lovely. Once you learn to speak in that person’s language and give unselfishly – in any relationship – it works out well but it’s GETTING THERE and learning that that’s the tough part!

  4. says

    I remember asking David this early in our marriage…I ask him it about other things as well and it’s been so helpful to understand that what works for me in love or comfort is not the same for him.

    Now I want to know what the Tornado did when she saw your massive card!

  5. says

    I love that you took the time to figure out how to make apologize, in her own language. It’s funny how something small in the right language makes so much more impact than a big gesture in the wrong language.

    I’ve read the book to get insight on my husband, need to go look through it again to get insight on my kids…

  6. says

    I love this.
    Luckily, because my Ladies are so little, I do know what they need from me to feel loved. And it’s easy for me to give because it’s exactly what *I* need to feel loved.
    My husband, however, needs something completely different and that takes effort on my part.

  7. says

    OMG yes, tough days, I know them well. I have them more often (ironically) with my sweeter, more sensitive child. And I feel horrible for it. The love language is always more ‘mommy and me’ special time.

  8. says

    I love this. I don’t have kids [yet] but when my husband and I were still dating we read the 5 love languages together and often use that information to help us during times of struggle. I think its extremely valid and has proven in our relationship to help a lot!

  9. says

    Love this! Looking back on who I was when I first got married and who I am now my love language has changed. I used to like gifts…now it’s all about time and being with me…showing me that you hear me! My daughters are the same…they want me…100% and when I have to split that 100% is when the friction happens.

  10. says

    I took the Love Language test and I actually tie with “Acts of Service” and “Physical Touch.” I’m not surprised that it was a tie between these two.
    I think the fact that you made Tornado an apology card shows what an amazing mother you are…I think that as adults we have a hard time SHOWING when we are sorry.

  11. says

    Oh I love this so much and plan on asking my husband this very question. My love language is to try to do for others, somehow attempt to please them by making something they enjoy eating or making the effort to call, email, text, just connect. But that’s probably not really enough. That’s what I would want, not necessarily what they want.

  12. says

    Love this. My husband and I have very different languages and still have to make a point to talk to each other correctly. It’s so easy to assume that the things that will make you happy are not the same for everyone.

    • Carla says

      it is SO LIKE the language of encouragement too. it took me ages to realize what motivated me did NOT inspire others. hashtag OOPS :-)

  13. says

    HUGS!!!!!!!!! Such a thoughtful & learning post… I don’t have the kid issues.. so I really can’t imagine how this made you felt but I do love how you handled it .. yet, I knew you would ask us that question – I really have no idea how I would answer it – that says something right there…

  14. says

    Oh yes we have had those days– many of them. I read the Love Languages many years ago but my husband wanted us to read it together-and for some reason it never happened. Really need to do that- with him and with her– for all of us!

  15. says

    I’m always in awe of parents for all the tricky emotional ground they have to handle, especially thoughtful parents like you who truly show up with presence and who question themselves. So much simpler to just “blame the kid” and move on!

    It did make me wonder if my parents ever felt crappy about how they handled conflict with us? I don’t recall hearing an apology, ever, for either parent losing their temper with us; it was just assumed that any reaction they had was justified by our “bad” behavior. It would have seemed bizarre to hear them say they were sorry! And these were actually great parents! But different times.

  16. says

    {{hugs}} ugh– I don’t like when that happens between myself and my mini-me. What makes it even worse is when it happens right before she goes to spend time with her Dad. Completely heartbreaking.

    But it looks like you handled it wonderfully!

    Kenzer and I have this thing called “the bubble”. When we enter “the bubble”, she is allowed to express herself to me in any way she sees fit with no consequences and vice versa. We have the most wonderful, open, and freeing conversations in these moments!

    And it gives me the opportunity to tell her when I’ve “screwed up” or have been wrong. And I’m able to remind her that leading by example requires strength. And the strongest leaders are those who can admit when they are wrong.

    Hope all is well now for you two beautiful gals!!

  17. says

    Thanks for your honest post, Carla. I was thinking while reading the whole post about the five love languages and wondering if you’d reference them. It’s so important to know how you receive and give love best, and more importantly to know how others do. We can approach people differently, we can love more effectively, when we think about the other versus just ourselves (b/c isn’t it interesting that we often don’t love the same way as those closest to us?). It’s about shifting our mindsets and viewing life from another’s perspective.

    Me? I’m a physical touch and words of affirmation person. That’s how I receive. My husband? Not so much. So I stopped writing him daily morning notes and stopped being offended when he never wrote back or expressed thanks. He appreciates acts of service, so my making him breakfast and helping set him up for the day or reading a book outloud to him at night does a lot to show him love. :)

    So neat you’re intentional with your kid…I think we see it between adults a lot and not that learning modeled from parent to child as much.

  18. says

    It’s interesting how each person needs different things. With my boys, they don’t always speak the same love language. It’s humbling to learn and figure out.

  19. says

    LOVE how intentional you are about loving, parenting, and just being you. I’ve found our love languages have changed over the years and different seasons, and we all do so much better when we’re checking in on where are hearts are at and what we’re needing. Sometimes we get so wrapped up in the day to day, we don’t even notice our love language has taken a different turn.

  20. says

    This has been at the forefront of my relationship with my husband. Knowing how to love someone is very important. I remember when I was first dating my husband I asked him, “what do you need from your partner?” I have never forgotten his answer, he said, “nothing.” I remember being so struck by that, I said, “no one needs nothing, everybody has needs.” Ten years later I feel like he doesn’t need me in any way. I feel invisible. I can’t figure out his love language. We’ve been to therapy and we give it our all, everyday, but many times I still feel that, “I don’t need anything ie: I don’t need you” feeling. It’s something I think about everyday. I want to feel needed, I want to feel desired–that is my love language and sometimes it scares me that that language is too foreign for him to learn.

  21. says

    Yes, i’ve discovered the love languages of family members. The most difficult one is the boy whose language is loving touch, because he’s gotten so big he is embarrassed to be seen hugging.

  22. says

    Beautifully said, my friend. I think (nay, I know) we all have those days where disappointing those we love feels inevitable but I love how you are getting in front of it by asking the question – maybe not for today but certainly for the future! ((hugs)) to both you and the Tornado

  23. says

    I love this. Material gifts and outings are fun, but as a child who got them because of vacant parents, I really appreciate a mother who looks at what her daughter would really want. Being on the same level as her makes my heart soar. You are teaching such wise lessons.

  24. says

    What a good mom you are. As moms we all make mistakes and have days that just plan suck. The simple fact that you took all that time out to do something for her in her love language is awesome. You are raising one amazing little girl who has a wonderful example of how to be a great person!

  25. says

    I always appreciate the breath of fresh air your thoughts provide me. I am sitting in an airport, thinking about a back and forth with my 10YO the other day. He is going through a snarky and sarcastic stage and though I try not to react most of the time, he pushed a button the other day and I OVER-reacted. Now I’m sitting here thinking about how I can do better and I know that the start is for sure, asking him what he needs first! Thanks :)

  26. Jessica @EatSleepBe says

    Terrific post, Carla. We all have bad days – both parents and children. Though I love the way in which you made it up to her, I am glad that you can forgive yourself too.

  27. says

    What a beautiful post. You had me hooked from the first sentence. You are so right, and it is so insignificant in the grand scheme of life when we look back on what made us lose our temper. I try to make the ones I love smile as much as possible, but most of the time it is just showing them with our words, just how much they mean to you. This is a great example.

    Thanks for the inspiration

  28. says

    i love that you know her love language. My my does that help with relationships! and making them feel… LOVED! Mine is acts of service. My husbands is quality time. But secretly, i love gift giving too. Hugs to you and tornado. That’s a gift, right?

  29. says

    I feel like I’ve written books about this on your FB wall. As you know, this concept changed our marriage/relationship. He washes the laundry when I’m at work, I endure trips to the home improvement store with no agenda. Me = acts of service. Him = quality time.

    I do not understand (I do actually) get why anyone would feel guilt or shame regarding the acknowledgement or new-found understanding of their partners/children’s love language “if all this time I’ve got it wrong.” At least there is a clarity now. I never felt as though Andrew wasn’t loving me enough. In fact, I felt the opposite. If I had more understanding of what I REALLY wanted, I would have been better able to communicated for the first 1.5years of your relationship as to what exactly I needed. I used to clean the house and cook dinner for him etc. Of course he appreciated it…but really that is how I would want to be loved. What he wanted was for me to enjoy our time together trolling through the aisles of the home improvement store and be up for the random drives through the country side…dreaming together of living in the country. (to me that always felt like a waste of time..what’s the point?) But I’ve learned..that is how he feels supported/loved/nurtured.

  30. says

    I love that question – “how could I love you better?” I need to remember it with my family.
    One day I sent my youngest to kindergarten after one of those awful mornings and cried. Then I emailed his teacher and asked her to give him a few extra hugs that day because I had messed up!!! She said “of course” and she also sent me virtual hugs.
    I’m sending those same hugs to you now because it is so very hard to be the MOM!!!!

  31. says

    I think there’s a time to hold them and a time to give them their space based on their needs, not ours, and that’s the tough part for sure!

  32. says

    Seems like we are on a similar wave length with our posts today. That question is so so powerful and we definitely don’t ask it nearly enough of those we love or really anyone in our lives. In my case, E broke down and yelled at me, “Make.Me.Feel.Better!!” which of course prompted me to ask him how to do that. xoxo

  33. says

    Oh Miz. This is so sweet. And so important!

    I think we often love people the way WE want to be loved, without taking into account how THEY want to be loved.

    So maybe that’s how to figure it out – to simply see what THEY do for US to show their love, and to reciprocate that?

  34. says

    seriously you are one of the best moms 😉

    honestly never really thought about asking my family if I can love the better, I do my best to show them when I can!! Family means everything to me


  35. says

    This question has greatly benefitted my marriage! My husband and I need such different really helps to step back and ask that question! Great post!

  36. says

    This is so beautiful and what a poignant question that is ripe for a real answer that can resonate and improve our relationships. Thanks for sharing this.