Does it seem that relationships come and go for you? Is it that as soon as you think you’ve met “the one,” something happens and you’re left holding the proverbial box of tissues? Have you observed others who seem to say or do all the things you could only hope for which leaves you wondering why your mate never does? Needs unmet? Words unspoken? It could simply be that you and your partner speak two very different love languages! Here are five reasons your relationships do not flourish:
- You are unaware that you express love in a specific language to others.
- You have no idea what your mate’s love language is (and before now, probably couldn’t have cared less).
- You have been unwilling to convert your expressions of love into relative “terms” the other person can feel.
- You have failed to recognize your mate’s attempts to show you love, even if it’s in his or her own way.
- You drown yourself in sorrow after each breakup believing that the relationship failed because something is wrong with you (or you try to convince everyone that it was all you ex’s fault), thus repeating the same patterns in the future.
This came to me after a long weekend of portraying Mother Superior in a local theater production of “Drinking Habits” by Tom Smith. I shed my wimple and veil and slipped into my civilian PJs. Once settled beneath the covers, I tuned into the Oprah Winfrey Network. I was instantly intrigued by this particular episode of Oprah’s Lifeclass which featured two authors whom, in my opinion have struck the “self-improvement” nail on the head!
Pastor Rick Warren was on first. He has written a few titles which direct us to find our purpose in life (something I suppose I’ll get around to eventually). The next segment completely captivated me. Oprah interviewed Dr. Gary Chapman, the author of a brilliant piece called The 5 Love Languages, which suggests that there is much more to understanding love than the birds and the bees. I am an eBook junkie, but admittedly, I’ve been ignoring Chapman’s book for years on Amazon because, well… romantic love was an enigma to me before! In fact, I had begun to believe that perhaps, there was no such thing! However, by the end of that interview, I changed my mind.
Dr. Chapman writes that there are five major categories or ways in which we love and feel love. They are:
- Words of Affirmation: Using words to affirm people/verbally expressing love for another.
- Acts of Service: Doing chores and other things for a loved one (cooking, automobile care, etc) says “I love you” to a person who speaks this language.
- Receiving Gifts: Purchasing or making gifts and presenting them to your loved one for no particular reason, makes them feel loved.
- Quality Time: A person who speaks this language wants your undivided attention when you are together.
- Physical Touch: To this person, cuddling, touching, kissing, and holding hands are among the many ways of showing love.
Along with Oprah, I took the interactive quiz and my results were totally consistent with my personality! The highest score is 12 points per category. I scored 9s on both Words of Affirmation and Physical Touch (these are my primary love languages), and a 7 on Quality Time. On Receiving Gifts and Acts of Service, I scored 3 and 2, respectively. Translation:
9 Words of Affirmation
7 Quality Time
3 Receiving Gifts
2 Acts of Service
9 Physical Touch
Interpreting and Using Your Profile Score:
The highest score indicates your primary love language – how you really understand your spouse’s expressions of love. It’s common to have two high scores (the highest score being 12), although one language tends to have a slight edge for most people. The lower scores in your profile indicate those languages you seldom use to communicate love and which probably don’t affect you on an emotional level in your marriage.
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.
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.
I thought, “This explains EVERYTHING!!!” How many times have we heard women carrying on about how, “I cook his food, wash his clothes, iron his clothes and clean this house from top to bottom, and he doesn’t even appreciate it!” How many times have we heard others say “He’s a great provider, but he just doesn’t give me the love and affection I need.” Men also groan, “What do I have to do to get a home cooked meal around here?” Then there’s, “I’m working as hard as I can and she never tells me I’ve done a good job!” As simple as it seems, these are examples of people in relationships who speak entirely different love languages than their mates. Here’s an example: Personally, I always thought people committed Acts of Service because those things JUST NEEDED TO BE DONE. Of course, anyone would think that way if that language is not a requirement for them. It’s not that I didn’t appreciate it. It just didn’t register to me as love. If ever someone was nice enough to do something for me, but felt rejected because my “Thank you” was not gushing with gratitude, it was probably because I didn’t ask them to do it in the first place. Further, the deed was likely something I could have done myself (just in my time). Conversely, if I love someone and they love me, I want to hug, hold hands, and take long walks along the beach. I want to have deep conversations, reliving our history and the day we first met. Of course, part of me still believes this is primarily due to watching The Young and the Restless faithfully, since age five… Now if my mate’s primary language is Acts of Service, yet he doesn’t have a romantic bone in his body, then the languages I speak and feel in love are totally foreign to him, and vice versa.
Imagine dating a strikingly handsome Asian man. After dinner, he takes you home and gives you a long, passionate kiss good night as the gentle breeze flows between your lips. He whispers something in your ear that is somewhat inaudible. You don’t comprehend it, and you keep saying, “What!?” You are both getting frustrated, when suddenly, he begins to scream at the top of his lungs in his native language, “我爱你, 我爱你!” Right. Don’t have a clue either, do you? That’s “Wǒ ài nǐ, Wǒ ài nǐ ” or “I love you, I love you” in Chinese! So, he loves you, but he is not communicating it to you in a way that you understand. Unfortunately for many of us, we believe that our particular love language is the ONLY love language in all of humanity. We become stubborn and unwilling to translate our love for others in the way they desire. Then, if we do, it becomes a circumstantial compromise. Only if you do for me, then I’ll do for you. Soon, both of your “Love Tanks” will be empty!
If couples can begin to embrace the principles of The 5 Love Languages, then they can move past right and wrong in relationships and instead, consider compatibility. It’s also possible that early on, we get so caught up into displaying characteristics that we believe our mates want to see in us. We must be confident enough to say, “This is me and this is my primary love language.” Put on no heirs, but present your true self. In the long run, no matter how fantastic he looks in those jeans, if he expects a hot meal every night of the week (and that is SO NOT YOU), yet hates holding hands in public (and you’re a HOPELESS ROMANTIC), you’d both better be expect to have to translate your languages, before taking things too far! If you decide to proceed anyway, be certain that you are willing to do some of those things that you are most uncomfortable doing for the sake of making your honey happy. It’s time to stop expecting people to behave in a typical manner. Quit requiring things from one another because of what most men/women do! Require things because they’re what you really desire. Stop grabbing people off the market just because they’re available, only to attempt to make them into what you want them to be, and for Heaven’s sake (like the old saying goes), “Start out like you plan to hold out.”
But wait! This goes well beyond romantic relationships. It applies to professional relationships and friendships as well. In a group of seven friends, three of us so far, have taken the quiz. I am the verbal communicator in the bunch. One member of our circle recently told me, “I have to say that I have a great appreciation for your openness.” I suppose that is because I tend to show love by Words of Affirmation, and I did appreciate the compliment. The other two ladies who took the quiz scored highest in Quality Time. I don’t think it’s a mere coincidence that these are the very two who always coordinate and spearhead outings for us all. They are the ones who seem to have an internal timer that goes off after too much time has passed between gatherings. Then, there’s the “Attention Span Monitor;” always ordering us to put our devices down and get off Facebook/Twitter and be present in the moment, demanding our undivided attention.
Thankfully now, I can view all of my relationships in a new light. Overall, I am convinced that there is much validity in The 5 Love Languages. I bought the book, and you should too. Give it a try! Change the way you approach love and handle conflict/resolution in your relationships from this point forward.