We all have ways of communicating and receiving love. Our problems come into play in relationships when the people we relate to either don’t communicate or receive love the same way as we do. Sometimes we are trying our best to communicate that we love someone as best as we know how only to have that love, we perceive, rejected or dismissed. Or the people we are showing we care about misunderstand us as we are trying to show how much we care and can get offended and upset.
One book that helped me understand this whole dynamic is “The Five Love Languages” by Dr. Gary Chapman. He basically states that there are five common ways we communicate and receive love from the relationships we have around us. These are the most common and basic ways, and not meant to be the end all and be all of course. But the simple way that the languages are explained helped me immensely in my relationships. The five languages are;
- Words of Affirmation
This is when you say how nice your spouse looks, or how great the dinner tasted. These words will also build your mate’s self image and confidence.
- Quality Time
Some spouses believe that being together, doing things together and focusing in on one another is the best way to show love. If this is your partner’s love language, turn off the TV now and then and give one another some undivided attention.
It is universal in human cultures to give gifts. They don’t have to be expensive to send a powerful message of love. Spouses who forget a birthday or anniversary or who never give gifts to someone who truly enjoys gift giving will find themselves with a spouse who feels neglected and unloved.
- Acts of Service
Discovering how you can best do something for your spouse will require time and creativity. These acts of service like vacuuming, hanging a bird feeder, planting a garden, etc., need to be done with joy in order to be perceived as a gift of love.
- Physical Touch
Sometimes just stroking your spouse’s back, holding hands, or a peck on the cheek will fulfill this need.
You basically receive love the same way you communicate love. If your way of demonstrating is by acts of service and you spend your time doing odd jobs and providing for your spouses every little need, but your spouse receives love by Physical Touch then you and your spouse will have great difficulty if you never try to speak each others language. It will be just as difficult for you as though you were only speaking Spanish and your spouse speaks only in Chinese. There would be lots of communicating, but absolutely no understanding. And many people get caught by this. How many times have marriages ended because the husband spent his time providing financially for his wife’s every need and desire, and all she really wanted him to do was spend some quality time with her. If we don’t learn to share the love we feel for those most important to us in ways they can receive it then they may feel completely unloved and unappreciated.
Our task is learning what their language is, and then learning to speak it. It is not easy, but it is worth the effort in the end. Once we can understand that what is frustrating us in our relationship is the way that they are communicating love we can begin to receive that love, and once we learn to speak their language then we can communicate love in a form that is easily understood and received. The only question that remains is whether or not the relationship is worth the investment in coming to understand the language being spoken. Once we invest the time, our relationship will only improve and deepen.