Different Love Languages
Like linguistics in communication, people speak different love languages. We have our native love languages that we speak and understand best in, and our secondary language(s) that we are comfortable but less fluent at.
It is possible for couples to love each other, but to feel unloved because they give and receive love differently, i.e. they don’t share the same primary emotional love language. After 30 years of marriage counselling, Chapman concluded that there are 5 key emotional love languages, though there are many “dialects” within these 5 languages.
Filling the Love Tank
All of us have an “emotional love tank”. When we receive love in our primary love language, our love tank is filled and we feel loved. When we don’t receive love expressed in our primary love language, our love tank gradually depletes and we feel unloved. When our love tank is empty, issues is the relationship arise.
Falling in Love
When we fall in love, we feel euphoric. We have the illusion that our partners are perfect and that the romantic feelings in our relationship will last forever. During this in-love period, we feel altruistic toward each other. We give freely because we believe our lover feels the same about us, and are equally committed to meeting our needs.
Long-range studies show that the in-love phenomenon typically lasts about 2 years (or longer if it is a secret love affair). When the phase eventually passes, we start to assert ourselves, and we stop doing many of the altruistic things for our partners. Our differences start to surface, and our partners’ imperfections start to become irritating or annoying. As the love tanks start to deplete, relationship issues start to surface.
To have a lasting relationship, it is important to recognize that the emotional high of the in-love experience is only temporary in nature. After the phase has run its course, we need to make a conscious shift to “real love”. Unlike the “in-love” stage, “real love” involves :
• A conscious choice or an act of will to love the other person;
• Effort and discipline to understand and give love to the other person (not merely driven by the euphoria of being “in love”); and
• A focus on growth and development of yourself and your partner (unlike the “in love” phase when we simply see the other party as perfect and hope they will stay that way).
We can choose to learn and speak our spouses’ primary love language. When their love tanks are full, they are in a better position to reciprocate your love, and are free to grow to their full potential.
We’ll now take a brief look at each of the 5 love languages.
LOVE LANGUAGE #1: WORDS OF AFFIRMATION
Words of affirmation are words that build someone up. If this is your primary love language, it means the world to you when you receive unsolicited compliments, hear the words “I love you” and the reasons behind that love. Insults can break your heart and leave lasting scars.
Specifically, the book explains and shares examples of how you can express Love Language #1 through verbal compliments and encouraging words.
LOVE LANGUAGE #2: QUALITY TIME
If this is your primary language, you deeply value doing things together and receiving full, undivided attention from your spouse, including sharing quality conversations and activities. Distractions, postponed dates, or failing to listen can be especially hurtful to you.
in the book, Dr Chapman elaborates on how to use quality conversations and quality activities to express Love Language #2.
LOVE LANGUAGE #3: RECEIVING GIFTS
If this is your primary language, you deeply treasure a gift or gesture that shows you are being thought of, cared for, and prized above whatever was sacrificed to bring you the gift. Gifts are visual symbols of love. You feel hurt by the absence of daily gestures, a missed birthday, anniversary, or a hasty/ thoughtless gift.
Gifts can be purchased, found or made, and the value is often less important than the significance of the gift. If you are not intuitive at giving gifts but your spouse’s primary language is receiving gifts, you can start by making a list of all the gifts that your spouses has been excited about – this will give you an idea of what gifts he/she appreciates. Gifts also go beyond just physical items, and can include the gift of self (or the gift of physical presence).
LOVE LANGUAGE #4: ACTS OF SERVICE
If this is your primary love language, you feel loved when your spouse says “let me do that for you”, and helps to ease your burdens or share your responsibilities e.g. cooking a meal, washing the car. Broken commitments, unwillingness to help, laziness/ sloppiness, or taking your spouse for granted, all send the message that your spouse doesn’t matter.
Even if you and your spouse share the same primary love language of Acts of Service, you make speak different “dialects” or value different types of support being rendered (e.g. she may prefer that you wash the dishes while you may prefer that she irons your clothes). Try asking your spouse to list down the tasks that he/she considers most important, and do them.
We should remember that our perspectives and stereotypes of male and female roles in society/ the household may not be shared by our spouse. Hence, it is always better to make requests than demands. No spouse should ever feel compelled to do something for the other due to guilt or fear.
LOVE LANGUAGE #5: PHYSICAL TOUCH
Physical touch can bring a sense of security and connection to any relationship. If this is your primary love language, you crave shows of care and love through is thoughtful touches, hugs, kisses, pats on the back, and/ or sexual intercourse. Neglect or abuse can cause serious damage and hurt to you emotionally.
Like other love languages, there are different dialects in physical touch, such as loving touches on the arm/ back/ shoulders, a back rub, sexual foreplay and intercourse, sitting closely on the couch, holding hands etc. Even if you share the same love language of physical touch, don’t assume he/she speaks the same dialect as you.
To discover your primary love language, ask yourself:
• What makes you feel most loved by your spouse? What do you desire the most from your spouse?
• What does your spouse fail to do or say that hurts you deeply or brings you deepest pain?
• What do you do to express love to your spouse? [You tend to do what you wish he/ she would do for you]
• “Tank Check Game”: If you wish to develop your understanding of and stimulate the love expressions in your relationship, this is a great game to try out with your spouse and watch your love deepen!
• Turning Things Around: Even if you and your spouse have had an empty love tank for a long time, it is still possible to turn things around. Find out how you can restart your love engine with Dr Chapman’s suggested approach.
• Five Love Languages and children: Find out how to identify your children’s love languages and how to develop a strong and loving relationship with them.
Love is a Choice
We all come down from the emotional high of the “in-love experience” at some point. Most marriages fail because people have not learnt or chosen to speak the primary love language of the other party. With the love tank empty for some time, people start to “fall in love” with someone else.
Love gives us the security, sense of significance & self-worth, and energy to develop our potential. Making a conscious choice and a deliberate effort to speak your spouse’s primary love language may not come naturally for us. But it helps to keep his/ her love tank full, and chances are that he/ she will reciprocate and speak our language.
OTHER DETAILS TO LOOK OUT FOR IN THE BOOK
Chapman used many real-life examples from his own marriage, and of couples that he had counselled across the years, to illustrate the concepts in his book and how they can be applied to address different marriage/ relationship issues and circumstances. These are case studies help us to identify similarities and lessons for our own relationships.
*Readingraphics July 7, 2015