You may be speaking a different language than your partner and not even know it
We all want to be loved. But more than that, we all want to be loved in a particular way. And this can raise some difficulties in a relationship.
More than 25 years ago, Gary Chapman wrote his successful and insightful book The Five Love Languages. The book has been enormously popular and one of the reasons why is that Chapman made a critical point: there are several different ways of showing love to someone. This was a breakthrough because most people assume that love is always shown the same way. Chapman showed that it isn’t and that there are indeed several ways of demonstrating love.
The fact that there are different ways of showing love suggests that couples whose partners show them love in the way they want and appreciate, are more likely to be happier than those couples whose expressions of love aren’t what the other partner expects, appreciates, of even sees as a sign of love.
Chapman came up with five different ways of showing love. These are time, gifts, physical touch, appreciation, and acts of service. Now, from my perspective these are not mutually exclusive although Chapman suggests that we each have one primary and one secondary love language. Nonetheless, the concept of love languages does suggest that identifying the ways that partners like to give and receive love can be very helpful in creating closeness.
Misunderstandings of how love is given and received can cause frustration. For example, a husband shows his love by giving his time and attention and providing gifts. However, his wife is looking for love, and even defines it, by appreciation and physical touch. She might not see his “love” as love at all: she might even complain about it. This make her husband resentful because, as far as he is concerned, he is showing love and it is not being appreciated and might even be rejected. You can see how this can be a problem.
The understanding of how each partner likes to receive and give love can go a long way to form a great basis of both knowledge of yourself and your partner.
One of the reasons there can be confusion in this area is that in the first phase of a relationship, both parties are probably going all out and showing all five love languages. As that phase of the relationship passes, it is likely then that the partners will turn to their more natural way of showing love and this difference can be striking.
How many women have thought, “Hmm… he doesn’t buy me as many gifts as she used to?” Or how many men have thought, “Hmm…she’s doesn’t seem as appreciative as she was in the beginning.”
Are those signs that partners have fallen out of love? No, they might just have fallen out of that particular way of expressing it.
I have found that when couples explore these concepts in therapy, it is often very enlightening, and can overcome misunderstandings and false perceptions. People also find it helpful to trace where their own preferred love language comes from, giving them important insight about themselves.
You can get more information and even take online quizzes to determine your love languages at http://www.5lovelanguages.com
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