What’s your love language?
Have you ever experienced the following scenario?
After a busy day at work, you and your partner are both tired so you take charge rushing round the kitchen, cooking dinner, clearing up and loading the dishwasher. You’re pleased to have done something nice for your partner, yet his reaction isn’t what you’d hoped for.
After dinner he’s quiet and retires to the sofa without saying much – if anything, he seems a little fed up – and you soon start to feel annoyed and disappointed that your efforts have gone unnoticed.
Miscommunication is something all couples experience. In this case, while the meal may have been lovely, and your partner appreciated your effort, what he really wanted was time to sit down and talk about a problem he’s having at work.
One of the things that can help with communication is to explore our love languages – the way we express and like to be shown love.
You may show your love through action (such as cooking a meal) but your partner may value your time and focused attention above everything else. Not understanding the different ways you both give and receive love can lead to problems.
Gary Chapman’s book, The Five Love Languages has been read by millions. It offers five key ways of looking at how we communicate love. Which do you relate to?
Words of affirmation: hearing “I love you” is really important, and the reasons why even more so. If words are your thing, chances are you’ll find insults very painful and hard to forget.
Quality time: you value focused, undivided attention above all else. (With so many of us glued to our phones nowadays, I imagine this type of person often feels unloved.) Changing plans or postponing dates can be hurtful to this person.
Receiving gifts: gifts are important to you, but what you value most is the love and thought that’s gone into the choosing. You may joke about the dead flowers from the petrol station each Valentine’s Day, but if gifts are your love language you’ll be hurting inside every time you receive them.
Acts of service: making dinner, washing up and hoovering may not sound romantic, but if this is your love language, anything that helps with the burden of housework is an act of love. Adding to their workload is taken as a sign that they are not loved.
Physical touch: this isn’t just about sex! The physical person communicates through touch – holding hands or a touch on the arm can be ways of showing care, concern and love. Withholding touch, or using touch inappropriately, can be damaging to this person.
Most of us have a primary love language and a couple of less dominant – but still important – preferences.
I often encourage my clients to think about the concept of love languages and how they can help their relationships. Love languages don’t just help with day-to-day understanding – they also help when we’re facing a crisis and don’t know how to support, or ask for support, from our partner. When times are tough, it can be helpful to understand what you need from your partner, and to understand why they may not be loving or supporting you in the way you want.
There are numerous tests online that help you work out your own love language. If you feel you and your partner aren’t communicating well, it could be worth giving one of them a go. Becoming aware of your love languages may mean looking critically at your relationship, but anything that improves how you relate to one another can only be a good thing.
To find out more about how counselling can help your relationships, call me on 07789 515561 or email firstname.lastname@example.org