Picture an old couple. They have had an ordinary life and lived more or less happily with each other for many years, were married for more than 50 years. Now, one of them, say the man, is nearing the end of his life. To relieve his conscience, he asks his wife to his bedside and tells her, “each morning, for the last 50 or so years, we had bread rolls for our breakfast. Before I die, I need to let you know that I ate the top half each morning, yet my preference would have been to have the bottom half. I never told you.” To which she replies, “I preferred the top half, that’s why I gave it to you.” This is a comical example of the misunderstandings that are common to occur in relationships. Generally, we imagine that our partner is like us. We assume that our preferences are theirs. When it comes to expressing our love, we tend to express love in the way that we prefer to receive it. Yet, this is not always the preferred way for our partner. Their preference might be quite different from ours. Often misunderstandings occur without partners even knowing that they misunderstood each other. They might feel indignant, ‘I act in such a loving way, yet my partner does not even appreciate it.’ According to Gary Chapman, author of “The five love languages”, we express and receive love in five different ways. Every one of us has a particular way of feeling loved. We assume that our partner speaks the same language but rarely they do. Partners often talk past each other, they just miss each other. These misunderstandings can lead to relationship difficulties. It is helpful for partners to be aware of the different “love languages”. They are pretty self explanatory as they have been described by Chapman:
Words of affirmation, Quality time, Receiving gifts, Acts of service and Physical touch.
What they all have in common is that the words used feel like an affirmation to our partner, quality time feels like quality time to them, gifts are what they appreciate, the same with the acts of service and physical touch. The willingness to extend myself and consider another person’s preference is at the core of the love language concept.
Words of affirmation include compliments, praise, any verbal expression that is uplifting. Here words, written or spoken are important. If your partner receives love this way, tell them that you love them, be expressive in a verbal way. They need to hear your words.
Quality time means that love is expressed by doing things together, going for a walk, listening to music, listen to one another. To give undivided attention is important. Eye contact may be an expression of this. Here you pay exclusive attention to your partner, rather than taking them for granted and be with them while watching TV at the same time.
Partner that feel loved when they receive gifts want a physical symbol of love, something that they appreciate. They feel loved when their partner surprises them with a gift. It does not necessarily need to be an expansive gift, what matters is that they are meaningful for their partner.
With acts of service, it is important that you take on chores that are important to your partner. It is crucial that these acts of service are done willingly and lovingly, not with any resentment. You do them out of love for your partner, you do them, because they matter to them. It can be cleaning the toilet, making the bed, any household chores.
Physical touch comprises of a wide range of touch from the loving touch on a shoulder to intimate sexual contact. Sometimes, it is crucial, especially for women to feel loved by experiencing non-sexual tender touch, caressing just to make them feel good, touch for the sake of touch, as an expression of love.
Usually, we speak more than one love language. The way we feel loved can be a combination of the above in different forms. It is helpful to be aware and share your preference with your partner and be interest in their preferences.
The short test can be of help to establish the love language of your choice. For this, see,
Copyright © 12/2006 by Rumijabu | From Tia Talk, a TV programme, published in “Partners in Dialogue” December 2006