Love Language Reflections: My ‘Unusual’ Public Displays of Affection

A mural on a public wall of a man and a woman holding hands in the forest with a quote "Did you know, you're my love, C & G. Giselle G."

By: Giselle General

In some ways we are unconventional and I love it! My husband likes to tease me about the ways I have showed ‘public affection’, more specifically, broadcasting about our relationship and marriage.

I’d usually respond, “Well, what do you expect when you are married to someone so amazing?

Public Art

Around summer 2017, because it was the 150th year anniversary of Canada being founded, there were numerous projects and community activities to participate in. In our former neighbourhood, we applied for grant funding to achieve two goals in one – a community building exercise and a combination of public art with prevention of unwanted graffiti. Over a few weekends, residents had a chance to sign up for a spot, plan their artistic idea, and go to the public sound barrier walls to paint their masterpiece.

During that weekend in June I multitasked, supporting everyone painting by making sure they have enough paint and snacks, while painting my own mural as well. As a result, I made a simple, cutesy painting of him and me, with the phrase “Did You Know You’re My Love”. It was fun and five years later, while some of the paint is fading a bit, it is still in good shape. The best part, even after we moved to a different neighbourhood here on the west end, we can still visit the location by walking. And it’s so much fun dropping by to see our mural, and the dozens of other ones painted during that summer.

Public Speeches

While I’m not as frequent and intense as Ned from the Try Guys that I mention my spouse every single moment of every single day, I’d like to think I make up for it in quality. Back in 2019, I was nervous when I applied as a speaker for Edmonton’s Next Gen speaking event called Pecha Kucha Night. My topic can be described as bit too personal and perhaps uncomfortable for a public audience. It’s titled “Dating a Sexual Assault Survivor”. But I felt in my heart, that my husband and everything he did was amazing, particularly when it comes to caring for someone with a lot of traumatic baggage, and there is a lot.

I was so relieved that I got accepted as a speaker. A bonus is that the event took place a month after our wedding, which was in front of the mural I painted a few years back. It was the perfect way to end the speech. When I got to the part where I said “so a few months ago, I proposed to him and he said yes!” and the large screen showed a wedding photo, cheers erupted from the audience. With all that said, the most valuable part for me is sharing my experience and potentially useful advice on how to love, care and be intimate with a sexual assault survivor. I hope that other couples were able to learn something from it.

Public Articles

While sure, we have our artwork in our house and our private diaries over the years, another way our relationship has been documented publicly is through articles, paid freelance articles, where my relationship with him is a major aspect of the topic.

There’s these two ones through CBC, a major broadcasting outlet in Canada:

And there’s this other one from a local project focused on preserving local heritage and stories:

Whenever I write something that will be published in a large platform like this, I strive to be mindful of the content and language. There are a some topics he is sensitive about so I don’t include it at all. The angle always focused on being informative, maybe a bit romantic but not necessarily explicitly sexual, wholesome and inspirational. So far, I am three for three in these articles. For my larger scale writing projects, this is something I will strive to maintain.

The husband accepts the fact that I’m a bit of a public figure in my own way, and I like to do projects and activities that reaches a wide audience sometimes. As a couple, we have embraced and enjoyed avoiding the trap of obligatory gift-giving for every single occasion, which has saved us a lot of stress and money. I’d say that these are more fun and something you cannot buy from a store!

Being a “Backseat Gamer”

Close up view of the original Sony Playstation console and controller.

By: Giselle General

This is something that has been a dynamic in my life all these years. But it wasn’t until I saw my husband watching a YouTube Channel with the terminology uses in the channel, did I realize what I was. I am a backseat gamer!

When I was a kid and my parents and sister were still alive, we do have a video gaming system. It was more like a knockoff version, not the popular ones such as PlayStation or Nintendo. My sister would play it most frequently, though I’d play a game of Bomber Man or Golf every now and then.

In my aunt’s home in Baguio City, is where I first saw a PlayStation gaming system in real life. Whenever I’d come to visit, I see my little brother and my college-aged cousin play video games, lots of them. I hardly touched the controller mainly because I see how much they are really into it. And I preferred books anyways.

When my brother and I lived together in the city, we are forbidden by our grandma to go outside and play, as we have our store to look after. So we have to have our main source of entertainment at home. The Playstation will be on for most of the day, with my brother playing the games we already have, or pirated versions of newer video games. From Digimon, Final Fantasy, Harvest Moon and many others, the ambient music of these games are a regular part of my life.

When I moved to Canada, there were only two main reasons I played video games for a prolonged period of time. When I used to work at an electronics store, I won an Xbox Kinect (so a video game system where you move your whole body while playing) as a prize at an event. There was also a computer game my boyfriend bought for me in 2012 called Terraria.

How does the ‘Backseat Gamer’ set up look like for me? Two people on the couch, one playing (usually my brother or my husband) and then me making little comments or asking questions. I try NOT to judge whatever strategy they are doing. And I definitely do NOT interrupt during a boss fight. Boss fights are easy to tell, usually by ominous music, higher in intensity, with something huge on the screen.

TV screen of video games Subtautica, with the player having submarine controllers navigating open ocean waters.

I will never have the skillset of mashing multiple combinations of the controller buttons and fighting what seems to be an endless stream of monsters. While the goal is universal, which is to overcome the obstacles in order to win, the different processes to do that can vary widely depending on the game. You can be a human in an hostile planet trying to survive, or a jelly bean with legs trying to run through obstacles and beat the clock, or a farmer trying to keep everything organized in the farm and the village.

I guess it’s the modern day equivalent of watching TV with the family even if the show is not your absolute favorite. I think for family members who are NOT video gamers it can be a bonding opportunity with those who are, especially if they play in the living room. Even it it is almost two decades after, whenever reminiscing about our younger years, I tell my brother the limited details I remember about the video games he played such as Harvest Moon, Yu Gi Oh, Pokemon, and Crash Bandicoot, among others. It turned into something fond and positive to reminisce about.

And now with my husband it’s a casual way to hang out as well! He mostly plays in the living room TV since I don’t watch a lot of TV anyways. I’d say a sympathetic word if his character dies during a fight, or cheer him on a level up achievement or a boss fight. Just a few days ago I made a comment when he entered a different level in the game and he was impressed, saying “wow, good for you for observing that game mechanic, not everyone notices it right away!”

Living room with TV screen displaying a game named Hades, image is a castle with monsters the player is trying to defeat.

Video games are not just for children, with many gamers well into their forties, or even older. So I think there is value to non-gamer family members to be aware and and appreciate this hobby and entertainment medium just like movies and board games. I’ve been hanging out in the living room more often this week because the video game has really cool background music, rock and metal which is just my jam. Add interesting stories between the characters and artistically done scenery, it’s like watching a movie or TV show series with a slight level of variety in outcomes thanks to the family member holding the controller.