Tuesday, October 6, 2009

The Languages of Love...

For those of you who know me, you will probably find it surprising that I am advocating a religious book. You will also probably find it surprising that I am advocating a relationship book written by the "experts". I'm honestly not much on parenting or relationship books. But this book is on to something. I read it years ago and was recently reminded of it while reading an online chat board. I thought I would talk about it here - not to promote the book, but to discuss the ideas mentioned in the book.

The basic premise is that most couples do love each other and that they do want to make the relationship work, but that they often do not know how to show this love in the way that makes their mate feel loved.

The book goes on to say that their are primarily five languages of love. In layman's terms, this means that what makes me feel loved may not be what makes you feel loved. And since it is human nature to speak our own "language", we could completely be missing the mark and not even know it.

According to the book, the five "languages" are:

(1) Words of Affirmation - Simple statements, such as, “You look great in that suit,” or “You must be the best baker in the world! I love your oatmeal cookies,” are sometimes all a person needs to hear to feel loved.

(2) Quality Time - This is more than your mate watching TV while you read a book, it is about focusing all of your energy on your mate.

(3) Receiving Gifts - Some mates respond well to visual symbols of love. The single rose picked up on the way home from work all the way to the diamond earrings "just because". Tokens such as this make them feel loved by their partner.

(4) Acts of Service - Sometimes simple chores around the house can be an undeniable expression of love. Even simple things like laundry and taking out the trash require some form of planning, time, effort, and energy.

(5) Physical Touch - Many mates feel the most loved when they receive physical contact from their partner. For a mate who speaks this love language loudly, physical touch can make or break the relationship.

So here is what the book says, in a nutshell. If you are a person who feels love from physical touch you are probably going to try to show your love via physical touch. It is natural that we would try to show our partner we love them by treating them the way we would want to be treated. But if you are partnered with someone who feels love from acts of service and you are trying to love them from physical touch, instead, they aren't going to feel your love very much. Because you aren't giving them what they need in order to feel love.

So basically we have to find out what our partner needs in order to feel love - and even if it isn't something that we personally understand, we should speak to them in their language. If they need for you to do laundry in order for them to feel that you love them, then do laundry.

On the same token, you have to realize that if you are the "acts of service" person but you are not partnered with an acts of service person, you doing all of the laundry in the world isn't going to make them feel loved - because that isn't their love language.

To see what "language" you speak, there is a simple multiple choice test. Check the one that most applies to how you feel:

  • I feel especially loved when people express how grateful they are for me, and for the simple, everyday things I do.
  • I feel especially loved when a person gives me undivided attention and spends time alone with me.
  • I feel especially loved when someone brings me gifts and other tangible expressions of love.
  • I feel especially loved when someone pitches in to help me. Perhaps running errands or taking on my household chores.
  • I feel especially loved expresses their feelings for me through physical contact.

Most people will be a combination of several of these but one or two will probably stand out above the others.

The book also mentions the "love tank" (got to love these cheesy terms, lol). Basically, every time your partner "speaks" to you in your "language of love", it puts something into your "love tank" (which is being compared to a gas tank). If, for the most part, you are walking around with a pretty full "love tank", chances are that you are going to be more willing to give your partner what he needs as well. If you are walking around with an empty "love tank" you are probably going to be feeling pretty resentful and burnt out...and not very willing to give much of yourself to your partner.

Anyway, it's a pretty simple concept, as in it may be taking a complex thing (a relationship) and putting it into too simple of terms. It definitely won't fix relationships with major problems. But for day to day life, I really do think that it is something that we could keep in mind. I think that the simple act of learning what our partner needs and then making the effort to do it could change a lot of relationships for the better.