There is a quote that says “find someone who speaks your language so you will not spend a lifetime translating your soul.”
Upon first read you would think this quote is saying to find someone who speaks your literal language, but it’s not! Though if anyone has seen the movie “Lost in Translation” then you would know speaking the same literal language is certainly helpful in relationship.
Anyway, what this quote is referring to is the language of your heart, more commonly known as your love language. A lack of understanding when it comes to the emotional language of your spouse can certainly lead to a disconnect in your relationship. It may seem that something is majorly wrong in your marriage but it could be something as simple (or as complicated depending on how you see it) as you and your partner are not communicating each other’s love language. Now don’t get me wrong, you may be showing one another love but the question is, is what you are giving being recognized as love by the receiver? Is the love landing for your partner or just for you?
According to the author of The 5 Love Languages, Gary Chapman, there are 5 ways that people understand and receive love. I know what you’re thinking, “5!” That may come as a surprise to some, I know it did to me when I first discovered it as well. No worries, I will give you a crash course in The 5 Love Languages and even a little quiz you can take to discover yours as well as your spouses. Chapman describes the 5 Love Languages as follows:
- Words of Affirmation
- Quality Time
- Receiving Gifts
- Acts of Service
- Physical Touch
Words of Affirmation: Using words to build up the other person and encourage them. For example, telling your spouse how great they did something or sending them a thank you note. (Even when you want them to do something they have not done, it is important to encourage them rather than highlight they haven’t done what they should have done.)
Quality Time: Giving your spouse undivided attention. For example: not using your phone while your spouse it speaking or going for walk with your spouse and just talking and listening.
Gifts: Getting something thoughtful for your spouse that says you were thinking of them. For example, giving your spouse a gift on any given day, not just on a holiday or special occasion.
Acts of Service: Doing something for your spouse you know they would appreciate. For instance, if your spouse works and comes home to cook dinner, maybe you have the dinner cooked already when they arrive home. Or if you know they hate the trash being full maybe take out the garbage without them having to ask.
Physical Touch: Showing affection in a physical manner. For example, kissing, holding hands, hugging and sexual intercouse all express love physically.
There may be times where you have felt unloved in your relationship but your spouse says “I do everything for you, how could you feel like that?” Or your spouse may be saying to you, “how can you say you love me, but you never spend any time with me?” Meanwhile you’re saying, “I show you my love all the time, I shower you with gifts!” While it may be true that you are giving love the way you know how to, your spouse may not be recognizing it as a love they can understand.
In my marriage, my husband tells me he loves me and gives me kisses all the time to express his love. And while that is very sweet, if I am being honest, it’s not as meaningful to me as it is to him! Sounds harsh? It’s really not, it’s just the reality of love. My husband loves when I give him kisses and tell him I love him, in fact he needs it. Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate his affections but on the other hand, I feel most loved when my husband just takes care of some stuff I need.
Early in our relationship this was a bit of a problem, I would often be offended that after all I did he had the nerve to feel anything less than loved and he would often be confused at how I called him selfish and he kissed me and loved on me all day. Once we really understand love languages and get that, not only is it important for us to be aware of our love language and our spouses, it is also important to love our spouse in their love language. What that means is, in order for my husband to get love I have to offer it in the form of hugs, kisses and other physical affections. For me to get love, my husband has to offer me his help in the form of taking on a task or pampering me, or just solving a problem before I ask.
In love, and with most communications in life, it is better to understand than to be understood. It took a while to learn this but what I got after 4 years of marriage is that when I focus on understanding my husband and what he needs, it frees him to focus on me and what I need. When we are most concerned about getting what we need and getting the other person to understand what we need and why, it just comes off selfish and now we are just protecting our own interests.
I can tell my husband loves me most when he handles household responsibilities that normally I would take care of. If he randomly cooks or cleans or just runs an errand for me I’m all smiles and ready to do whatever he needs. During my pregnancy with my daughter, my husband, who is far from a top chef made me the most amazing breakfast, I was in heaven, and the meal wasn’t even that good (actually it was really bad!). But I am the one who always cooks for him, and without me asking he whipped up a meal and allowed me to just relax and enjoy.
One place where we happily meet in the middle is massages. My husband gives the best massages, just the right amount of pressure. A massage after a long day of baby carrying and toddler wrangling is just what I need to whine down. Joshua gets to express his love through physical touch and I get to receive love through this act of service. I am equally happy giving him a massage, I can give love through the act of easing his aches and he can receive love from my physical touch.
While this is a beautiful moment this is not always the case. We have to regularly work at our love language. I can get so caught up in doing acts of service so that he has what he needs that I forget he would be equally happy just paying someone to get these things done so I could have time to give him physical attention. At times he will be trying to give me physical attention and really it’s more of an inconvenience for me because I just need to get some things accomplished so I can relax and have time for him. Old habits die hard, and many times we developed these love languages from childhood so if we are not present we can fall back into doing what is comfortable to us. Which, will likely make us uncomfortable in our relationship. It’s a paradox!
If you have not read the book The 5 Love Languages by Dr. Gary Chapman, I would recommend you certainly give it a read. It is truly eye opening. He also wrote a 5 Love Languages of Children, which is also very helpful because each of your children may understand and receive love differently. If you have read The 5 Love Languages already, great! Definitely put that information to good use, it really helps.
Whether you have or have not read it, you’ll want to know your love language. On Dr. Chapmans website there is a quiz so you can learn your love language. I recommend it for you and your spouse. It is best that you let your spouse do their own so you don’t assume to know what they prefer (besides if you’re in a mess, those assumptions probably got you there!)
The love language quiz will ask you questions like “do you prefer, to hold hands with your partner or when your partner buys you a gift” and “do you prefer if your partner does a household chore for you or tells you how much they love you.” While some of these questions seems simple and maybe even insignificant, when is the last time you actually asked yourself what it is you preferred in those small instances?
Discovering your love language is not just useful for your partner but also for yourself. Sometimes we make assumptions about what we like or sometimes even worse we don’t know what we like. For me, I thought my love language was one thing, but as time went on, and my needs changed so did my language. My husband and I first got together as teens, my love language then was not the same as it is now. That is something I had to discover and once I discovered that and could be honest about that I was able to request what I needed rather than having my husband guess and keep being wrong.
Contrary to common belief this game of love is more about giving than receiving. Understanding your love language and your partners in the end will make you a more effective lover.
Share in the comments below and tell us what your spouses love language is.