Monday, January 5, 2009


"Encouragement requires empathy
and seeing the world from 
your spouse's perspective.
We must first learn
what is important to our spouse."
 - Dr. Gary Chapman - 

the first love language is best illustrated in conversations i had with a young couple from philadelphia many years ago. rocky and adrian met while rocky was a small time boxer and adrian worked in a local pet store. the ever boisterous rocky swept the quiet and timid adrian right off her feet. however, times quickly became tough in their relationship. 

"i mean, you know, it's alls i know," rocky said of his former boxing career.

"but his right eye was going bad," adrian said. "i didn't want to marry a man who would be blind in one eye before the end of the year. i loved him too much for that. so i asked him to stop fighting."

"you know, she asks me to stop fightin', and i did. i stopped cause, you know, she's adrian and stuff. but workin' wif paulie down in tha docks, you know, i wanted to pack punches on tha beefs insteada packin' t'em up. it's alls i know."

adrian didn't realize that rocky's primary love language was words of affirmation. when adrian told rocky that not fighting would make her feel loved, he gave up fighting. she complimented him on his time at home, on his lack of bruises and scars, on him looking straight at her with his right eyeball. but what adrian didn't realize is that fighting is all rocky knows. when rocky repeatedly says, "you know, it's alls i know" - and when he says this in reference to boxing - what he's saying to adrian is that boxing is the only occupation that makes him feel worthwhile and good about himself. in a perfect world, rocky would occupationally box with adrian sitting ringside cheering him on in his endeavors; however, such a sacrifice was difficult for adrian to make. she wasn't sure she could see rocky beaten every night of the week. that all changed in the coma.

"when i was in the coma, i had long conversations with myself," adrian said. "as you may remember, rocky had just started training again with mickey."

"yeas, i was trainin' with mickey and stuff to fight creed again, but i couldn't, you know, get my head in tha ring. i was all standin' there, throwin' the punches, and mickey's yellin' at me to eat some lightnin' and crap some thunder, but, you know, adrian wasn't happy 'bouts it. so i wasn't happy 'bouts it."

adrian continued, "when i was in the coma i realized that rocky loves two things in this world: me and boxing. and i realized it was unfair to ask rocky to give up one for the other."

rocky became excited at this part of the story, "yeas, and i'd been sittin' there, you know, watchin' her in that coma and t'inkin' how beautiful she was all asleep and stuff, and i'm t'inking, with mickey sittin' right there and all, that i'm ain't fightin' creed no more. but then adrian, you know, she flutters her eyes and i'm like, whoa! adrian's awake and stuff! and then she says to me, oh, and i'll never forget it, she says, 'rocky, do something for me' and i says, 'what, adrian, anyt'ing.' and she says, 'win, rocky. win.' oh, t'em words felt better than all t'em kids hopping around me on tha museum steps."

rocky went on to beat apollo creed in the championship fight, going fifteen rounds after creed promised to beat rocky in two rounds. this example shows the power of a spouse's affirming words. adrian knew that rocky loved boxing, and she also knew that rocky could not succeed at what he loved without her support. by speaking rocky's primary love language, affirming his success with her words, rocky become more than the champion of a single fight: he, and his love for adrian, became american icons.


John Barber said...

Simply the most bizarre post ever on THitPB. And I mean that in the most complimentary way possible. Absolutely brilliant. You've got Chapman down.

One suggestion though I know it goes against every fiber of your being: Chapman would capitalize.

Jennie said...

J and I watched a Rocky marathon recently and it was superb. I was never in to boxing or martial arts as a kid, but I sure did watch a lot of Rocky and Karate Kid. Nice post. Sorry I accused you of only writing about scary things. :)

myleswerntz said...

Can I confess this out loud? That though I've seen Rocky IV more times than I can count, I've never sat through the original?

Shame on me.

the hamster said...

my bible study group (we call ourselves "monday night group" because we meet on monday nights and we hate the sound of "bible study group") is currently reading through chapman's FIVE LOVE LANGUAGES. i rather like it. it's quick, to the point, not too heady but not total christian-ese wash either.

the wife is always on about the power of a wife's words and how a wife can single-handedly build-up or tear-down her husband. we site the rocky and adrian scene here as a primary example.

john - you're right: the fibers of my being poo-poo on correct capitalization. ironically, i refuse to abbreviate or use incorrect grammar when i text. like whitman, i am large; i contain many paradoxes.

jennie - keep coming. we are large men; we contain many film preferences.

myles - i'm telling you, and i don't know how many times i've already told you, the first two rocky films are total class acts, dumbed down in the public mind by the 80s iconography of ROCKY III and the cold war novelty of ROCKY IV. the first two films are much bigger.

Sean said...

I woke up at 4:32 today (am). My alarm was set for 5:00, 5:05, 5:10, and 5:15. I just woke up at 4:32, shrugged, then took at shower. I would be taking a shower right about now, but instead I find myself with time to read about Rocky, and Gary Chapman.

You're a clever man. I enjoy reading cleverness. I give this post five words of confirmation out of five.

myleswerntz said...

Here, here. I give it five punches in the ear out of five.

John Barber said...

A question of grammar: Is it "here, here" or "hear, hear?" Cause I always thought it was the latter.

These are the things that bother me. I need help.

myleswerntz said...

John, I think you misunderstood me. I was gesturing, "Come here, so I can punch you in the ear to tell you what an awesome post this was."

Had I been applauding politely, it would have been "hear, hear." In the future, I'll refrain from such pleasantries.

the hamster said...

myles - it means a lot to me that you would punch john barber in the ear to illustrate the awesomeness of my post. with such outward displays of friendship, i may ask if you can come sit in on my oral finals in march and meet my panel committee.

myleswerntz said...

Only if it means that I can punch your committee in the ears. EARS. Not a single ear, EARS. Having been punched in the ear before, it hurts like a MOFO.

the hamster said...

myles - warning: they ALL have ears. all three of them do. that'll be a lot of boxing. you need to practice on one of them inflatable swinging clowns or something.