by Nancy Travers,LCSW
We all know that communication is key for a healthy long-term relationship, but did you know that your spouse could be speaking Italian while you’re conversing in Spanish? According to Dr. Gary Chapman who wrote the popular book, The Five Long Languages (Northfield Publishing, Chicago 2004), people come with a set of love languages and a relationship is doomed to fail if one person doesn’t understand the other’s language.
Here are the Five Love Languages:
- Words of Affirmation
- Quality Time
- Receiving Gifts
- Acts of Service
- Physical love
So why try to learn your spouse’s love language? Because it could save your marriage and a long-term relationship is tough. Both spouses need to feel that their love tank is full either through verbal affirmations, quality time, gifts, acts of service or physical love. Falling in love is easy and that emotional high you feel when you first met your spouse isn’t going to last more than two years according to Chapman. Sustaining that love and that feeling takes work and it takes an investment of time and energy to act on your spouse’s love language. For instance, if a spouse who loves getting gifts is married to someone who always forgets her birthday or doesn’t want to spend the money to buy her something, then this marriage is on the fast track to built-up resentment.
Here are some tips explaining the five love languages:
Words of Affirmation
These are simply words letting your spouse know how much you love the scarf she’s wearing, or how proud you feel when your husband plays first base in the softball league. Noticing and remarking on your spouse’s accomplishments, physical appearance or talents goes a long way to build self-esteem and self-image. These in turn help make a happier spouse who feels more confident because they have a partner who believes in them.
Watching TV together on the couch doesn’t equate to quality time. You might be together, but your focus is placed elsewhere. Quality time means that you maintain eye contact with your partner, you listen for feelings, you observe their body language and you refuse to interrupt them. If you’re busy with something and can’t devote your full attention to your spouse, it’s OK to say that you don’t have time and will spend quality time with him or her later.
This might be the easiest love language since everyone loves getting gifts! Gifts don’t have to be expensive in order to be received well. Think about writing a short note, picking up a flower, or buying an inexpensive card.
Acts of Service
Many times the husband will appreciate the wife’s cooking, cleaning and sewing while the wife will appreciate the husband taking out the trash, raking the yard and painting the living room. The trick here is to do these acts of service out of love and not out of fear or resentment. Sometimes the best way to make sure these acts of service are appreciated by the other person is to issue a few words of affirmation and appreciation.
You may think this love language would be all male dominated, but in fact many women need human touch to serve as a reminder that they are love and appreciated. Physical love doesn’t have to always mean sex; it can be a peck on the cheek, a back rub or cuddling, and both sexes are sure to enjoy these activities!
The way to find out which love language is your dominating one is to ask yourself these three questions:
- How do I express love to others?
- What do I complain about the most?
- What do I request most often?
While figuring out your spouse’s love language it’s important to try not to think of marriage as a problem to solve or a project to be completed – it’s a relationship! Learning your lover’s love language should come from love and not from “something that needs to be checked off of the list.” But most of all, discovering how to please our mates and speak their language can fill a marriage with powerful intentions that may need to be tapped when challenging times arise.
Nancy Travers is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker. She specializes in all types of relationships; We all want them, We all need them; How to get em and Keep them. Nancy’s office is located at 1600 Dove Street, Suite 260, Newport Beach, CA 92660.
For more information or to make an appointment, call 949-510- 9423 orÂ contact us.
copyright a division of Counseling Corner, Inc.
As seen in The Blade magazine June 2005.