Monday, 16 March 2015

Understanding Your Partner's Love Language

Most people would express love the way they understand it and most people would receive only what they perceive as love due to their love language. This concept has caused so much pain and heartache among many couples. Understanding this concept might help relieve them and bring some comfort to them. I also hope it would help bring a new awareness and a warm understanding between couples.Some years ago, I read a book titled "The Five Love Languages" by Gary D. Chapman. It was such a defining moment for me. It made me realise early on that people have different ways of professing love to other people. More importantly, people have different expectations of love.

Here are five love languages couples need to know and figure out which is one is applicable to their spouses.

Words of affirmation:
This is where words of affection and praise are used frequently. Everyone wants to be appreciated, but for some, this means more to them than others. People who fall into this category of having this as their primary love language often compliment others, say appreciative words to people. More importantly, this is their engine room. They love to be appreciated for the things they do, who they are and for just being there. They thrive when they often receive accolades and it makes them strive even better. They are shattered by insults which are not easily forgotten.

Acts of service:
Ever heard the phrase “talk is cheap”? often times, this phrase would spring forth from someone whose primary love language is acts of service. If your spouse’s love language is acts of service, nothing would make them connect emotionally with you more than simple or big acts of kindness. Often times, it would cost you something- your time, your resources, your brute strength. An example would be a friend who once complained that her husband often tells her he loves her but does nothing to show it. She said she is sick and tired of hearing him say it while he does nothing at all to help her around the house. In her words “I wish he could just get off the couch when he is home and help around the house.” That is the typical cry of someone whose primary love language is acts of service. The words that people who speak this language want to hear most is “ Let me do that for you”. Laziness,  broken commitments and making more work for them makes the people who speak this language feel as if their feelings don’t matter. Finding ways to serve speaks volumes to them.

Giving gifts has from historical times been perceived as an expression of love. There is something inside us that says that if you love someone, you will give to him or her. For some people however, this is their engine room. It makes them feel deeply loved. Without a clear understanding of this concept, you may want to dismiss this kind of person as materialistic. However, if you are married to someone that has this as their primary love language, giving gifts is a sure way to connect emotionally with your spouse. Get holiday gifts, anniversary gifts, nothing special gifts… Remember, the gifts need not be expensive, just thoughtful. Do not mistake this language for materialism. The perfect gift or gesture makes them feel known and cared for. A missed birthday, anniversary or a hasty thoughtless gift would be disastrous. Gifts are visual representations of love.

Physical touch:
From when a baby is born, we have learnt to carry babies tenderly. Babies react to the pressure in which you carry them. That is why you must carry them tenderly. Babies understand touch to mean love. That is why sometimes they cry just because they want a cuddle. Some people never out grow that need.

 In a marriage, if your spouse has physical touch as his/her primary love language, he/she would feel loved if you give hugs often, hold hands in public, touch his/her leg while driving, give a back rub every now and then, sex. A spouse with this primary love language mostly feels loved this way and bereft otherwise. Neglect or abuse can be unforgivable and destructive. Physical touch fosters a sense of security and belonging in any relationship.

Quality time:
This love language demands that you spend undivided time with your spouse. It’s not about being able to listen while using your phone, etc. I just have to go here: if your wife’s love langue is quality time, try this: when she walks into the room when you are watching football, and she says I want to talk to you, put the TV on mute, turn to her and don’t look elsewhere until she is through. Impossible? You would have scored many brownie points.

Every individual comes with a love tank. Keep your spouse’s tank full always.

 First, get to know what fills her tank, then fill it constantly. All the points I mentioned are important to everyone, so it’s not like you can do number one and forget about the rest but do all and concentrate on the primary love language. Learn to study yourself and your spouse.Learn also to communicate your needs and expectations to your spouse. Keep each other’s love tank full. There are a number of online tests to help you if you feel confused about which one your primary love language is. We all have a primary one, sometimes, we score high points on two, but one is usually higher than the other.

Also, listen to what your partner request for or complains about the most. That is likely the person’s love language. Once you think you have an idea of your partner’s love language, start speaking it.

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