I recently read “The Five Love Languages”, by Dr. Gary Chapman. He talks about the 5 different general ways that people feel loved. Different things say, “I Love you”, to different people. The different ways that speak “Love” to different people are: Words (of Affirmation), Gifts, Acts of Service, Quality Time, and Touch. He is specific to say that there are different dialects in each type, and we are often a mix of more than one type, but generally have one strong area.
When we are receiving love in our language, our “Love Tank” is filled, and stays filled if we continue to receive love in that way. The opposite is true as well. When we are deprived of the signals that say to us we are loved, we begin to feel unloved and empty. It also seems that when we are giving towards the other person in the manner that is our primary love language, and they are not returning to us, we feel doubly emptied, wondering why they are not reciprocating and why things just aren’t working.
We can take a pretty close guess as to what our own or our partner’s love language is by how we treat others. Is your partner always giving you gifts? Then that is probably their primary love language, and they would love to receive gifts. Do we find ourselves often doing things for other people? Then Acts of Service is probably our primary love language, and it would mean a great deal for us to have our other do little tasks or chores for us. Are we always sending them little notes of affection, which says that kind words are important to us, and unkind words are really painful. Or are we wanting to hug them, indicating that touch is what sends a strong message of love to us? If we think back to the beginning of our relationships, and remember what it was that we appreciated about each other, knowing that will also give us some clues as to what makes us happy in relationship.
This explains why something that seems so insignificant to one person in the relationship, is such a big deal to the other. It is like giving your dog the rabbit’s food instead of dog food. It just doesn’t work for him, and he is starving. Saying the wrong thing may really bother one person, but the same thing wouldn’t phase the other. Forgetting to give a gift on one’s special day, birthday, anniversary, whatever, may feel really hurtful to one, but wouldn’t bother the other at all. We each have unique needs, and unique ways that we receive love.
The challenge is learning to speak a language that is not your first nature, and can feel awkward at first. It is a bit like learning a second language. It will take focus and effort, but with a bit of practice, it becomes easier. There may be moments where you feel clumsy, but I’m sure your loved one will only find your efforts endearing.
Thankfully, it is not that hard to figure each other out. It takes a little effort, but is enormously rewarding. We all want to be happy. And we all like to make each other happy. That is why we got together in the first place. So, with a little attention and effort, you can easily learn your partner’s love language, and easily say, “I Love You” more often.