Finding how you give, receive and communicate love will enable you and your spouse to love better and stronger.
In his bestseller, The 5 Love Languages, author Gary Chapman writes:
At the heart of mankind’s existence is the desire to be intimate and be loved by another. Marriage is designed to meet that need for intimacy and love.
Case in Point
Mark is a director of the information technology department at a large company. For the past month, he has been working long and grueling hours to avert a major crisis. His wife, Mallory, also endures the stress of her husband’s work. Because of the hours Mark was logging at the office, Mallory had to adjust her schedule by “picking up” Mark’s usual family responsibilities, including picking up their teenage daughter from soccer practice each afternoon and getting their two little ones ready for bed on her own.
After a month at this pace, both Mark and Mallory were utterly exhausted and looking to each other for an extra dose of support, comfort and love. How they communicated during this time of extreme stress and tumult reflected their unique style of giving and receiving love. This proved to be difficult because during times of stress both Mark and Mallory were equally depleted and equally in need of affection and support, but needed to express it in a way that the other could best receive it.
On one particularly stressful day, Mark arrived home at 9:00 PM. Mallory was worried, but as usual she had gotten the kids to bed and had some hot food ready for him. When he arrived, she began to chronicle the day’s events, and begin planning for tomorrow because serving others is her primary way of showing love to her family. However, Mark was longing for some kind words and affirmation because that is how he hears and feels love. Under stress, Mark failed to recognize that Mallory was showing her love in the best, most excellent way she knew.
The problem facing Mark and Mallory is not unique. Many couples never realize that love is received and sent differently among people who make up most couples. Consider the five “love languages” below, and try to identify how you and your spouse communicate.
When it’s all been said and done, time is perhaps the most precious commodity. It is the only thing that can never be replaced. When a loved one spends his or her precious time with us, it speaks volumes.
Mark Twain said that he could live for weeks on one compliment. When spoken from the heart, affirming words can invoke warmth, love and inspiration.
The retailers wish that more people spoke this language. The truth is that receiving a special gift – even a small one – communicates that a special effort was made, with thoughtful consideration of the likes and pleasures of another. So when she says, “you shouldn’t have gone to the trouble,” – with tears streaming down her face – don’t believe a word of it!
Helping out, pitching in and working hard for those we love is the most misunderstood love language – yet perhaps the most costly. People who love this way are seldom appreciated the way others are. Scrubbing a floor or fixing a car hardly seems romantic. Yet, where would the world be without these pragmatic acts of love and service?
Holding hands, a gentle kiss or a big bear hug are the usual ways we expect love from our partner. All humans require at least a modicum of physical touch and contact with loved ones. Some require very little and only in private, while others are in constant need of physical affection and are very comfortable with public displays of affection.
Putting the Theory to Work
Chapman asserts that your primary love language is evident in two ways:
- You receive it more deeply and emotionally than the other four.
- It’s the way you most often express love to others.
If you are unsure whether you are expressing love to your spouse in the way he or she can best receive it, just ask! You can certainly continue to pour out love in the way that comes easiest to you, but by making the effort to speak your spouse’s love language you demonstrate how much you want her/him to feel your love – and that’s the highest form of true love.
The Five Love Languages: The Secret to Love That Lasts (reprint edition) by Gary Chapman. Northfield Publishing, 2010.
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