We like it on the page, in the story, and also in our own lives. Sometimes though, real life love doesn’t read like one of our favorite novels. What can help us find our own happily ever after?
In my “other life” as a marriage and family therapist, I’ve come to love a book that was written several years ago (but still readily available) by Dr. Gary Chapman, and I wanted to share his message.
The book is called “The 5 Love Languages”. Have you read it?
His theory is that there are five ways that we “express” love.. and also five ways that we “perceive” love.
As every person is an individual, with specific personalities and life experiences, people may have a different priority of these languages, and they often differ within the “couple”. If we do not understand our partner’s love language, or don't define and express our own, miscommunication and resentments can build.
Here they are. Which is your main love language?
Affirmation: People with this language SAY the words, and usually need to HEAR the words. “I love you. Thank you. You mean a lot to me.” No, they can’t guess what you mean, and they can’t imagine it. They need to HEAR it.
Time: Eyeball to eyeball. No tweeting, facebook scrolling, reading the paper. These folks need your undivided attention. They get affirmed by your time. “Can’t we just spend time together?” “Are you listening to me?” “Can you just sit down and talk?” Not being willing to do this feels like a giant insult, if this is the priority love language.
Gifts: It’s not about an expensive bauble. It’s about the thought. These folks feel loved by giving or receiving gifts. It might be a single flower. A cup of coffee. A poem. Or stopping at the store because you heard they need eggs. Proof that you thought of them. Took the time. A gift makes the sun shine for someone with the “gift” love language.
Service: Some people show their love by “doing things” for people. Carrying a bundle. Opening the door. Help with the dishes. Picking up the laundry. Washing the car. It’s about somehow making the workload LESS. For service people, getting (or giving) help affirms the appreciation of all the person does.
Touch: It’s not just about the sex. It’s about touch. For some, love is shown by a simple pat on the shoulder, a touch, a hug, a hand held while sitting on the couch or walking down the road. Not touching feels like holding back, like personal rejection. These folks like skin to skin, even in the most simple way.
Many of us have more than one.
So often we think we know. We have made assumptions about our partner’s love language, and we’ve modified our own. Sometimes it’s hard to admit what we need or to dare to ask a partner to define their needs. But the truth is, daring to put words to the feelings can make a GIANT change in a relationship. Long term. I love when I see this.
Chapman’s book has some fun “quizzes” to take with your mate that prompt some good conversation and communication. I recommend it.
He also has another book that talks about families, about what our children need in their “love language” from us, and what they might learn about ours. Also powerful.
What’s your love language? I’d love to hear.
Christine Bush is the award winning author of many books and novellas of sweet romance and light mystery. She also writes Middle Grade Fiction. When she isn’t writing, she can be found working with clients as a Marriage and Family Therapist in private practice, or teaching Psychology at a local college. She lives with her family and two crazy cats in northeastern Pennsylvania, and loves to hear from readers and aspiring writers.
Her latest book “Cindy’s Prince” can be found at http://www.amazon.com/Cindys-Prince-Christine-Bush-ebook/dp/B00IFSRVJ2/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1393781746&sr=1-1&keywords=christine+bush+cindy%27s+prince