If your relationship is in need of an overhaul, but you don’t have the time for long therapeutic processes, then the closest thing to a quick-fix that I’ve come across lies in figuring out whether you’re speaking the right “love language”.
Do you know what you need to feel really loved? Are you aware of what your spouse needs to feel truly loved?
Dr Gary Chapman suggests that statistically it is rare that both of you will share the same “love language”. And yet all too often in our relationships, we give others what we would like to receive ourselves – or what makes us feel loved – forgetting that our partner probably craves a complete different form of attention.
Discovering which “love language” you speak, and which one your spouse speaks, is a surprisingly simple path to creating a long term relationship where both of you feel truly nourished and fulfilled. Dr Chapman outlines 5 distinct “love languages”:
1) Words of Affirmation
2) Quality Time
3) Receiving Gifts
4) Acts of Service
5) Physical Touch
FIGURING OUT YOUR LOVE LANGUAGE
One easy way to tell which love language is yours, is to look at what your partner does that delights you. Are you thrilled when he offers a back rub, compliments you on your outfit or suggests the two of you go away for the weekend? Do you love it when she initiates sex, buys you that fabulous gift or has dinner on the table when you get home? A second way of discovering your love language is to notice what you usually do for others. Do you tend to give gifts, compliments or lots of big hugs? Are you somebody who typically offers help in practical matters or pushes for one-on-one time?
FIGURING OUT HIS/ HER LOVE LANGUAGE
Your spouse’s criticism of your behaviour will provide you with the clearest clue to their primary love language. Dr Chapman points out that people tend to criticise their spouse most loudly in the area where they themselves have the deepest emotional need. Their criticism is an ineffective way of pleading for love. Once we understand that, it becomes possible to process their critcism in a more productive manner.
THE CONSEQUENCES OF GETTING IT WRONG
When a couple haven’t figured out their respective love languages, the relationship typically starts to feel frustrating, volatile or empty. What’s sad is that, very often, both partners do actually love each other. However, because they haven’t figured out how to communicate that love, they keep on missing each other and can’t make the relationship work.
It’s easy to see how this happens. He’s giving her gifts when what she really craves is for him to actually say he loves her and appreciates her in words. Or she runs the household with the efficiency of a FTSE 100 company, but all he really wants is to come home to a warm hug and a loving kiss. Over years, the more one person feels deprived of what they really need, the less they’re willing to give the other what they want and vice versa. The relationship deteriorates into a power struggle.
If you’re curious about the most common “love language” combinations I see in my private practice, and how to avoid the mistakes other couples make, do watch this 7 minute video:
If you’re interested in reading more, Dr Chapman’s book is called “The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love that Lasts” and is available on Amazon (UK: http://amzn.to/nXYxVv / USA: http://amzn.to/nLRAFw )
As always, do get in touch if you have any questions.