Do you speak the same love language?

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

If you've never been there, you've at least heard a friend express dismay and frustration at their loved one in some iteration of this sentence:

"I'm always the one who {insert act of selfless love here} ... why can't he do the same thing for me?"

Each person does certain things to show that they care when they're in love, whether it's showering someone with gifts, cooking an elaborate dinner or giving a naughty slap on the butt when no one's looking. It comes naturally and effortlessly—which makes it all the more frustrating when the object of one's affection doesn't reciprocate in the same way. 

When expressions of love get lost in translation, it can make you just wanna scream,
"Do I have to spell it out for you?!"

In this season when we all go out of our way to show our loved ones how we feel, I thought it would be prudent to reflect on the concept of 5 Love Languages. Through years of counseling couples in rocky marriages, Dr. Gary Chapman came to realize that each person has different ways of expressing love—and that most of the time they will pick a mate who expresses love in a different way than they do.

According to Dr. Chapman, people express love in 5 universal love languages:
1. Quality time
2. Physical touch
3. Acts of service
4. Words of affirmation
5. Receiving gifts

If you rank these five according to what makes you feel the most loved and line that up against your partner's rankings, chances are there will be differences. But the way you show love will probably always be according to your list; meanwhile, the way your partner expects to be shown love will be according to his or her list.

And therein lies the problem.

Picture a husband who comes home and gives his wife a big hug to express his love—only to get swatted away because she's annoyed that he didn't take out the trash as promised and therefore sees that act of service left undone as love withheld.

Imagine the girlfriend who's showered with gifts by an incredibly busy boyfriend, and still feels unloved because to her love is shown by devoting time while to him it's expressed by doing everything he can to keep her feeling like a spoiled princess.

You think you are unloved when the other person is actually trying to express love—just in a way that's natural to him, but just maybe not for you.

It's important to find out each others' love languages so that messages don't get lost in translation and petty hurts don't fester and grow into full-blown heartbreak. In this season of love, we'd all do well to start learning the languages our loved ones speak.

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  1. I am fairly crazy about the Love Languages concept. many, MANY a time have I been completely beside myself because my significant other at the time didn't understand my need to have a genuine conversation without any. other. distractions.
    and *I* didn't get why my -now- husband was always touching me when we were within touching distance. and if I moved out of his reach, he would look really hurt and you could see a shift in his attitude.
    it makes SO much sense once you figure out your type and have the people you're close with figure out theirs. we now know we have to 'speak' in each others language to make sure we're both feeling heard. LOVE this book!!

  2. It's really funny how common a problem this is. But once you're aware of this concept, it really makes a difference in how you approach a relationship! Glad to hear you and your hubby figured it out!