Husband & Wife Articles

The Coffee Connection

Finding the ‘love language’ to please your spouse

By Hallie Lord

My husband is an avid coffee drinker. In the early years of our marriage, his brand of choice was a well-known canned brand. Add two sugars and a splash of cream and all was well with his world. This was strange to me. Where I hail from — a small suburb in Northern California — most everyone drinks only the highest-quality coffee, bought from one of those upper-crust corner cafés. Even those who choose to brew their own coffee use only the freshest, most expensive cocoa beans — a necessary indulgence, you understand.

Wanting only the best for my new husband, you can imagine how terrible I felt upon discovering that he had long been depriving himself of quality coffee. With the firmly-set resolve that is common to young wives, I set about to remedy this problem. Graciously offering to play barista, I secretly snuck all manner of spices, syrups and creams into his beverages. I was sure that my actions were blessing him hugely; after all, he drank those beverages down to their dregs without complaint every morning.

Eventually, though, I started to notice that the enthusiastic compliments I was expecting never came. So I asked him: what did he think of my imitation of a five-dollar cup of coffee? As gently as he could, my southern born-and-bred husband informed me that in truth, he really just wanted to go back to two-sugars-and-a-splash-of-cream. It was then that I realized my mistake. Instead of taking the time to familiarize myself with my husband’s preferences, I’d blithely assumed he’d share my own. I thought that “the two become one” meant that he becomes more like me!

What I was silently saying was: “Here’s your coffee, sweetheart — just the way I like it!”

I’d failed to learn what author Gary Chapman would call our “love language.” I knew what I needed. I knew my love language. That was enough, right?

My wish that my husband should have the highest-quality coffee was a step in the right direction, to be sure. It was nothing less than a loving response to the first nudges of agape. But more was being asked of me; more is asked of all who enter into the covenant of marriage. We are asked to die to self to a degree we’ve never before experienced. To love well, we must become like detectives in our pursuit of the secret longings of our spouse’s heart.

Integrating agape into our marriages doesn’t mean simply doing kind things for our better halves when and if we feel so inspired. It doesn’t mean blessing them only in ways that are pleasing to us. If we are open to true love’s promptings, agape will bring out our curiosity, so that we may come to know our spouse more intimately. It will teach us to be vigilant, so that we may become sensitive to the little signals that alert us when he have a need that is not being met. Most importantly, it will give us the strength to embrace supernatural self-giving, so that, in total surrender, we may make a complete gift of ourselves to our beloved.

For my part, I desired words of encouragement, affection, attentive listening, and yes, five-dollar cups of coffee. Assuming my husband would want the same, it took me years to realize that all he really yearned for was a piece of pecan pie. Pecan pie is his “love language”. Pecan pie served with coffee, two sugars and a splash of cream.

Hallie Lord, a convert to Catholicism, resides in the Deep South with her husband and five children. She writes at