Does your partner text while you’re talking? Fail to notice when you’ve had your hair done? Does say he loves you, but you’d feel like he meant it if he helped out around the house more?
Or maybe a kind gesture on your part didn’t get the desired reaction from him. You’re left wondering why you even bothered at all.
Ever feel like you’re speaking completely different languages? Maybe you are!
Relationship expert Gary Chapman says there are five different languages of love. If you both speak the same language that’s great, but if not you might need the help of an interpreter!
In his #1 best selling book ‘The Five Love Languages: The Secret to Love That Lasts’, Gary writes about the importance of being able to express your love to your partner in a way they’ll understand.
The basic principle is that we each use one of five primary love languages. This determines how we give love and how we want to receive it. Learning to speak your partner’s love language and vice versa will do wonders for your relationship.
Ever since I read this book I’ve had a fresh insight into what makes my hubby tick. ‘Caring Acts of Service’. (And no, that doesn’t just mean sex…)
It means a lot to him when I remember to buy his favourite coffee or sparkling water before it runs out. Or taking his shoes to be resoled, his suit to the dry cleaner or his tennis racket to be restrung. It’s all of those things that take a small load off his plate. I haven’t gone so far as to fill in his tax returns, but I know that would be a pretty grand act of love!
Knowing that his primary love language is Caring Acts of Service means I can remember to sprinkle it into the week fairly effortlessly. I’ll tell him to go and relax while I clean up the dinner dishes. Or I’ll go and collect our son from a party – even though it’s his turn.
And I’ve been able to help him understand why his gifts and compliments aren’t nearly as meaningful to me as quality time and conversations. It isn’t enough to just be in the same room at the same time. I need focused attention. If he’s reading or texting while I’m talking I feel insulted. (Even though annoyingly he can repeat back what I’d said word for word… grrrrr…..)
Read the following Five Love Languages and try to identify your partner’s as well as your own.
1. Appreciative/Affirmative Words
Compliments and positive comments are high on the priority list. They need to hear things that make them feel good, build their confidence and make them feel appreciated. ‘I really like your haircut’, ‘That’s a great colour on you’, ‘I appreciated you clearing up today.’ ‘Thanks so much for organising our trip. I know how much work went into it.’
Love letters and cards also go down well. Make sure you’re genuine in what you say. Also be aware that these partners love to give compliments, so accept them graciously.
2. Quality Time/Conversations
Whether it’s watching a movie together, going for a walk, having a date night or a kiddie free break, these partners really value doing things together. What you do is less important than the fact that you’re spending time together focused on each other, so give your partner your undivided attention. Some couples think they’re spending time together when, in reality, they are only living in close proximity.
Those who value quality time may also feel a strong need for quality conversations. They want eye contact and focused attention when they speak. They aren’t always looking for solutions when they express their feelings, they just want to feel heard.
For some partners, what makes them feel most loved is a gift. It doesn’t have to be expensive to send a strong message of love. Not a natural gift giver? Notice when your partner says ‘I’d really like one of those’ and make a note of it. Listen carefully and you’ll get quite a list. If you’re a spender you’ll have little difficulty in buying gifts for your partner, but if you’re a saver, you’ll experience resistance to the idea of spending money as an expression of love. Try to reframe it and realise that when you meet the emotional needs of your partner, it’s the best investment you can possibly make. You’re filling their emotional love tank.
4. Caring Actions/Acts of Service
If you promise this partner you’ll wash the car, make dinner, bath the kids, water the garden or post a letter, then you’d better make sure you do it. If this is their primary love language, they’ll feel unloved if you never offer to do things without them asking. They feel especially loved when you go out of your way to take something off their plate. Reframe ‘nagging’ as a way of knowing the kinds of things you can be helping them with. Make note of the things they especially complain about doing and do them as an act of love.
5. Affectionate Physical Touch
These partners need regular hugs, kisses, shoulder rubs, hand holding and would be very upset if you reject them because you’re too busy or tired. This can require making an effort to notice the way they touch you as this will be the way they perceive a loving touch. Bonus points for putting your arm around your partner in front of their family or friends. It says ‘Even with other people around, I still see you.’
Discovering your partner’s primary love language means you’re better able to keep his emotional love tank full. And that means he’s less likely to feel neglected, unappreciated or grumpy. And more fun to be around!
Not sure which of these is your primary love language? Try to look at the negative use of love languages. What does your partner fail to do or say that hurts you? If your primary love language is used negatively by your man (ie: he does the opposite) it will hurt you more deeply than it would someone else.
Share this with your man. Use it as a tool for expressing what you need from him in order to feel loved and supported. And spend some time finding out how he likes to feel rewarded. It’s a win-win!
For a great giggle, watch Oprah Winfrey taking the 5 Love Languages test here!
And check out the fantastic ‘Love Languages for Children’ book to help you find out which love language your children needs. This was a real eye opener for me!
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Before you go, please leave a comment below telling us what you think your love language is. Is there one in particular that stands out?
Mixing practicality with self-awareness, Kelly helps mothers get on top of their endless to-do’s and see life beyond the laundry pile. Grab her free Life Wheel Tool for discovering what needs your focus first.
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