Tuesday, July 7, 2015 | By: HiDee

Words Sometimes Get All the Attention

Show don’t tell. 

Writers hear this advice all the time. Readers want to see what the characters see, feel what they feel. They want to experience the story as if they are living it.

But what about in real life? Does it apply there?

When it comes to love, my husband is a big proponent of show don’t tell. He picks wild flowers from the side of the road more often than he buys me a bouquet of flowers.  He selects a card from a deck of cards – always a heart – and composes messages for me.  He randomly leaves rosebuds, or little sticky hearts, on my steering wheel for me to find of a morning.  He will tell me he loves me, but he believes actions speak louder than words – and not just in romantic situations.

For example, our daughter was out of town on Father’s Day, so she called him. She texted me afterwards.  “I hate that dad and I cant have a normal relationship where we show how we feel. When I said I loved him, he just said OK like he didn’t know what to say. I’m just sad that we didn’t grow up telling each other.” I shared this with my husband because I felt it was important for their relationship. He stuck to his “actions speak louder than words” mentality, even as I explained that sometimes we need to hear the words.

A couple weeks later, Daughter had a particularly rough week and was talking to her dad on the phone.  He was supportive and encouraging to her, and before they hung up, I heard him tell her he loved her. I was so proud of him! When I talked to her later, she told me she almost cried when he said it. At the same time, she was disappointed in herself because she didn’t react any differently than he had. She didn’t know what to say. That saddened me.

In a deeper discussion, I learned that my daughter wished we had been more affectionate – with the kids AND with each other – as they were growing up.  They don’t remember us holding hands, hugging, or kissing in front of them so when we do it now, they are embarrassed. Now I wonder, have they doubted that we love each other – and them? – because we didn’t say “I love you”; because we weren’t more openly affectionate?

I learned something from this experience. Actions can be a very compelling mode of communication, conveying what we are unable or unwilling, for one reason or another, to say. But words are just as important - they bridge the gap and tie our actions together.

Which camp do you or your characters fall in?  Do actions or words mean more?


Angela Adams said...

What a deep, thought-provoking post.

HiDee said...

Thank you for stopping by, Angela!

RT Wolfe said...

Great post, HiDee. I am a depends-on-the-scene girl in regards to words vs actions.

Charmaine Gordon said...

Takes me back to raising six kids. Lots of hugs and kisses and later words to bridge the gap. Today I wonder what went wrong with two of them but it's too late now. I enjoy the ones I'm close to and write my books. Thanks for a thought provoking post.

Maris said...

What a great blog. You made me think about my parents, their relationship with each other and with me. There were very few words of love and very little showing, yet when my mother died, my father was heartbroken. He watched the movie Love Story many times and cried. For some men it's very difficult to express their emotions with words or actions. I married a man who is very loving in both ways. I must say it's nice to have those arms wrapped around me and hear those words.

HiDee said...

R.T. I agree with you!

Charmaine, I learned the hard way that each of us have our own perspective, and the same situation affects each of us differently. I don't always understand how it can be SO different, but it can be. Enjoy your family as much as you can!

Maris, how nice to have a man who loves both ways! I can only imagine how difficult it was to watch your father struggle.

Thank you all for sharing your thoughts!