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Sarcasm as a Form of Communication?

I would hazard a guess that most police spouses can relate to the sarcasm that becomes a safety net in daily communication, at the very least it certainly is in our house. That, of course, can come with its own set of challenges; the biggest one being that children have a hard time deciphering sarcasm and if the sarcastic parent isn’t careful with what they say it can lead to miscommunication and tears (on the child’s part). I came across this article by Victoria Newman and immediately felt like she had nailed it so I will leave you with her words....

The Sixth Love Language

I didn’t think it could be done.

There are five love languages – Acts of Service, Physical Touch (Affection), Words of Affirmation, Gifts, and Quality Time. About 98% of the population give and show love through these five practices. And nobody’s ever really come up with another. And I think everyone’s been okay with that.

Until a few weeks ago.

“I don’t think my husband shows or feels love in these ways. There is a sixth love language.”


So, I have a friend who keeps me on my toes. I’ll call her Sarah. Sarah will come up with some thought-provoking ideas and she will come at me with her armor on, smirky smile, her piercing eyes and poke my brain. What about this? I think you should… And she’ll say something very profound… and then I am speechless for a few moments while I process an idea that didn’t come from within. And suddenly, I see the wisdom in it.

“Okay, Sarah, what is the sixth love language?”

I don’t remember what she called it, but she went on to describe a sort of sarcasm that isn’t designed to wound. It’s a way of communicating with a smirk and a twinkle that is affectionate. It’s a challenge to step into the ring and let’s tease each other until we’re friends.

Sound like anyone you know?

My thoughts went to my father-in- law (former cop) who communicates this way. If you can’t handle the verbal spar, he doesn’t respect you. My thoughts went to several co-workers of my husband, and a Vietnam Vet whom I dabbled in the ring with at a book function, and especially my co-author of Selfish Prayer – he is the champion of Verbal Spar.

I thought of the time I spoke to about 30 middle management police officers in Oakland last fall. Most people would feel uncomfortable talking to a group who sat in a U-shape, dressed in their uniforms with bars and stripes gleaming from the fluorescent lights above. They sat stone-faced, wheels turning, some making a few notes as I spoke about what I offer police marriages. I spoke in my normal encouraging way, speaking passionately about my cause. And then, one asked the question: “Got anything in that book of yours that deals with cops that want to sleep with married cops? Cause that’s what I’m dealing with right now.”

Here we go.

I went on to mention that yes, I do mention this briefly in my book, and then said something like, “That’s why I do what I do. It may be kind of Pollyanna, but perhaps if we can strengthen marriages, you won’t have to deal with it on duty.”

They weren’t convinced. So I switched to Verbal Spar – what I recognize now to be the sixth love language.

“Look, we do what we can, but sometimes shit happens…”

The entire room erupted into laughter.

I was suddenly one of the club.

Believe it or not, I felt trusted. I’d made the connection.

Not by speaking my language, but theirs.

So, I’m declaring that there is a sixth love language. It is a language of love and trust spoken by men and women who deal with the painful realities of our world – cops, military, search and rescue, firemen, medical personnel. Probably others, too.

Verbal Sparring is a tough language to speak because it dances close to uncomfortable. And sometimes Verbal Sparring draws blood. I wondered for a few weeks if I should even write about this because I had to ask myself if it was actually a language of love. My conclusion is, absolutely. It is a different way of loving and communicating love that is safe within the life that demands we toughen up and deal with the crap flying around us.

So when I was apologizing for not giving appropriate heads up on something, I declared that I was “so lame!”. Sarah’s comment was, “You are lame!”

I felt so loved.

Victoria Newman - ''A CHiP on My Shoulder'' March 14th, 2014

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