Did you know that we all communicate love in very different ways?
As Valentines Day fast approaches, I thought it would be good to reflect on how we are communicating our love and why sometimes we feel frustrated because we don’t feel loved or appreciated, and/or those we love get frustrated with us for the same reason.
The best way to celebrate Valentines is to understand love and improving our relationships through effective communication, whether it is with your partner, your children, your friends or your parents.
Some time ago, I read a great book called: The 5 Love Languages by Gary Chapman. If you are not familiar with it, this book talks about 5 different ways in which each of us feel loved and express our love to others.
We all have a primary love language (the way in which we most feel loved and cared about) and our natural tendency is to show love in the way we most feel loved.
Because we have our own way of loving (or showing love), we unconsciously expect our partners to “love us back” in the same “way”, and this can create HUGE misunderstandings and frustrations!
In his book, Chapman describes the 5 love languages as follows:
- Words of Affirmation
Actions don’t always speak louder than words. If this is your love language, unsolicited compliments mean the world to you. Hearing the words, “I love you,” are important—hearing the reasons behind that love sends your spirits skyward. Insults can leave you shattered and are not easily forgotten.
- Quality Time
In the vernacular of Quality Time, nothing says, “I love you,” like full, undivided attention. Being there for this type of person is critical, but really being there—with the TV off, fork and knife down, and all chores and tasks on standby—makes your significant other feel truly special and loved. Distractions, postponed dates, or the failure to listen can be especially hurtful.
- Receiving Gifts
Don’t mistake this love language for materialism; the receiver of gifts thrives on the love, thoughtfulness, and effort behind the gift. If you speak this language, the perfect gift or gesture shows that you are known, you are cared for, and you are prized above whatever was sacrificed to bring the gift to you. A missed birthday, anniversary, or a hasty, thoughtless gift would be disastrous—so would the absence of everyday gestures.
- Acts of Service
Can vacuuming the floors really be an expression of love? Absolutely! Anything you do to ease the burden of responsibilities weighing on an “Acts of Service” person will speak volumes. The words he or she most wants to hear: “Let me do that for you.” Laziness, broken commitments, and making more work for them tell speakers of this language their feelings don’t matter.
- Physical Touch
This language isn’t all about the bedroom. A person whose primary language is Physical Touch is, not surprisingly, very touchy. Hugs, pats on the back, holding hands, and thoughtful touches on the arm, shoulder, or face—they can all be ways to show excitement, concern, care, and love. Physical presence and accessibility are crucial, while neglect or abuse can be unforgivable and destructive.
Once you know your primary language, you and your partner can discuss it and try to use each other languages more often. If you are not quite clear about which is your primary language, you can take this Assessment offered at the official 5 Love Languages Website.
Below is a great exemple of miscommunication.
Taken from the article: Six Ways to Keep Your Relationship Healthy By Dr. Ben Kim He writes:
“Margaret’s primary love language is quality time, while mine is acts of service. So while she appreciates various acts of service I might perform with her in mind, they don’t end up meaning as much to her as, say, spending an evening together just talking about this and that after the boys have gone to sleep.
I don’t know how many times I’ve forgotten this and spent one too many hours at the office, thinking that she would appreciate how hard I was working for our family, only to become devastated and angry in discovering that she was angry with me for neglecting her. The perfect example of two people looking at the same event with completely different perspectives and all the heartache that can be caused by not knowing and acting on your partner’s primary love language.
Know what your partner’s primary love language is. Act on it. Repeat as often as possible.”
Understanding that we all communicate love differently was a HUGE eye opener for me, it helped me feel more loved and love more effectively. And this is helpful not only in couple-relationships, but also with parents and children, and with all the people you care most in your life!
So, what is your primary language of love?
Have a wonderful week!