|The Five Love Languages
The Sex eZine - Book Review
Showing Your Love
Although it was published more than a decade ago, The Five Love Languages, by Gary Chapman, is as relevant today as it was when first published. The premise of the book is that every human being has a "love language" that makes him/her feel truly loved. For some it is when a kind word is spoken by their partner (Words of Affirmation). For others it is when their partner snuggles up to them (Physical Touch). According to Chapman, the five love languages are:
1. Quality Time
Quality time is more than mere proximity. It’s about focusing all your energy on your mate. A husband watching sports while talking to his wife is NOT quality time. Unless all of your attention is focused on your mate, even an intimate dinner for two can come and go without a minute of quality time being shared.
Quality conversation is very important in a healthy relationship. It involves sharing experiences, thoughts, feelings and desires in a friendly, uninterrupted context. A good mate will not only listen, but offer advice and respond to assure their mate they are truly listening. Many mates don’t expect you to solve their problems. They need a sympathetic listener.
An important aspect of quality conversation is self-revelation. In order for you to communicate with your mate, you must also be in tune with your inner emotions. It is only when you understand your emotions and inner feelings will you then be able to share quality conversation, and quality time with your mate.
Quality activities are a very important part of quality time. Many mates feel most loved when they spend physical time together, doing activities that they love to do. Spending time together will bring a couple closer, and, in the years to come, will fill up a memory bank that you can reminisce about in the future.
Whether it’s sitting on the couch and having a brief conversation or playing together in a tennis league, quality time is a love language that is shared by many. Setting aside focused time with your mate will ensure a happy marriage.
2. Words of Affirmation
Mark Twain once said “I can live for two months on a good compliment.” Verbal appreciation speaks powerfully to persons whose primary Love Language is “Words of Affirmation.” Simple statements, such as, “You look great in that suit,” or “You must be the best baker in the world! I love your oatmeal cookies,” are sometimes all a person needs to hear to feel loved.
Aside from verbal compliments, another way to communicate through “Words of Affirmation” is to offer encouragement. Here are some examples: reinforcing a difficult decision; calling attention to progress made on a current project; acknowledging a person’s unique perspective on an important topic. If a loved one listens for “Words of Affirmation,” offering encouragement will help him or her to overcome insecurities and develop greater confidence.
Some mates respond well to visual symbols of love. If you speak this love language, you are more likely to treasure any gift as an expression of love and devotion. People who speak this love language often feel that a lack of gifts represents a lack of love from their mate. Luckily, this love language is one of the easiest to learn.
If you want to become an effective gift giver, many mates will have to learn to change their attitude about money. If you are naturally a spender, you will have no trouble buying gifts for your mate. However, a person who is used to investing and saving their money may have a tough time adjusting to the concept of spending money as an expression of love. These people must understand that you are investing the money not in gifts, but in deepening your relationship with your mate.
The gift of self is an important symbol of love. Sometimes all your mate desires is for someone to be there for them, going through the same trials and experiencing the same things. Your body can become a very powerful physical symbol of love.
These gifts need not to come every day, or even every week. They don’t even need to cost a lot of money. Free, frequent, expensive, or rare, if your mate relates to the language of receiving gifts, any visible sign of your love will leave them feeling happy and secure in your relationship.
4. Acts of Service
Sometimes simple chores around the house can be an undeniable expression of love. Even simple things like laundry and taking out the trash require some form of planning, time, effort, and energy. Just as Jesus demonstrated when he washed the feet of his disciples, doing humble chores can be a very powerful expression of love and devotion to your mate.
Very often, both pairs in a couple will speak to the Acts of Service Language. However, it is very important to understand what acts of service your mate most appreciates. Even though couples are helping each other around the house, couples will still fight because the are unknowingly communicating with each other in two different dialects. For example, a wife may spend her day washing the cars and walking the dog, but if her husband feels that laundry and dishes are a superior necessity, he may feel unloved, despite the fact that his wife did many other chores throughout the day. It is important to learn your mate’s dialect and work hard to understand what acts of service will show your love.
It is important to do these acts of service out of love and not obligation. A mate who does chores and helps out around the house out of guilt or fear will inevitably not be speaking a language of love, but a language of resentment. It’s important to perform these acts out of the kindness of your heart.
Demonstrating the acts of service can mean stepping out of the stereotypes. Acts of service require both mates to humble themselves into doing some chores and services that aren’t usually expected from their gender. However, these little sacrifices will mean the world to your mate, and will ensure a happy relationship.
5. Physical Touch
Many mates feel the most loved when they receive physical contact from their partner. For a mate who speaks this love language loudly, physical touch can make or break the relationship.
Sexual intercourse makes many mates feel secure and loved in a marriage. However, it is only one dialect of physical touch. Many parts of the body are extremely sensitive to stimulation. It is important to discover how your partner not only physically responds but also psychologically responds to these touches.
It is important to learn how your mate speaks the physical touch language. Some touches are irritating and uncomfortable for your mate. Take the time to learn the touches your mate likes. They can be big acts, such as back massages or lovemaking, or little acts such as touches on the cheek or a hand on the shoulder. It’s important to learn how your mate responds to touch. That is how you will make the most of this love language.
All marriages will experience crisis. In these cases, physical touch is very important. In a crisis situation, a hug can communicate an immense amount of love for that person. A person whose primary love language is physical touch would much rather have you hold them and be silent than offer any advice.
It is important to remember that this love language is different for everyone. What type of touch makes you feel secure is not necessarily what will make your partner happy. It is important to learn each other’s dialects. That way you can make the most of your hugging, kissing, and other physical contacts.
Primary Love Language
Chapman says that each person has a "primary love language" that they react stronger to than with the other love languages. A female may feel more loved by her partner when he buys her flowers versus when he tells her the meal she cooked was good. A man may feel more loved his partner tells him how impressed she is with his latest home improvement project versus when she cuddles up to him.
According to the book, once you've identified, with your partner, what love language fits you the most, then it becomes easier for each of you to express your love to each other in a way your partner understands.
I was first introduced to the concept of "love languages" about six years ago. Along with my partner at the time we sat down and went through each of the love languages and chose which one made us feel most loved. Ironically, however, I found that the love language I reacted to the most wasn't one of the five! Thus I ended up identifying my own love language - Acts of Thoughtfulness.
Acts of Thoughtfulness is when your partner does something unexpected that is an expression that he/she put time and thought into the action. For example, I once went on a road trip from California to Idaho to visit my Grandma. As I was getting ready to leave, my girlfriend handed me several wrapped packages and an envelope with instructions. I couldn't read the instructions until I stopped for gas. She had calculated the miles I had to go, miles per gallon I got on my car, and how many gas stops I'd have to make on my trip. Every time I stopped for gas, I had to open one gift (i.e. home made chocolate chip cookies, new CD to listen to, etc.). Along with the gift was a postcard (addressed to her and prestamped) that had a multiple choice question about our relationship. I had to fill in the answer and send it from the closest mailbox. If I got all the answers right, I would be given another gift upon my return!
Now something like that took her a long time to think about and plan, but more importantly that one simple act had me loving her more than ever. Suddenly a long road trip had turned into an adventure and that whole trip I found myself thinking about her and what she had done.
I also identify Acts of Thoughtfulness as little things that make life more pleasant for your partner. For example, the same girlfriend and I used to go to a particular movie theater. One day, just before a movie, she told me that the only thing she didn't like about the theater was the armrests because they were too hard and made her elbow/lower arm sore. From that point on, without ever being asked, I would rest my hand under her elbow during the movie so that she had a cushion.
A partner may see I have a headache and without being asked, come over and rub my head or bring me some water and Aspirin. This is an act of thoughtfulness and perceptive action on the part of my partner.
While I love the concept of the "Five Love Languages", it is clear to me that there are actually six and that Acts of Thoughtfulness should be included in the book. However, to his credit, Chapman does point out that there could be "numerous dialects" to each love language he talks about.
The Five Love Languages begins by discussing how many people, after they get married, see their love eventually deteriorated. Then comes divorce for many of these couples. This is where understanding your partner's love language becomes essential for a lifetime of love. From Chapter 1:
"Your emotional love language and the language of your spouse may be as different as Chinese from English. No matter how hard you try to express love in English, if your spouse understands only Chinese, you will never understand how to love each other."
The interesting element here is that just because love is best expressed to you through Words of Affirmation, doesn't mean it is the same for your partner. Thus it is vital to learn your partner's love language so that you can properly focus your expressions of love in a way that is meaningful to your partner.
For some people, it will be easy to identify what love language you possess. For others, it may take a little extra thought. Chapman devotes a chapter strictly to "Discovering Your Primary Love Language."
Chapman alludes to each person in a relationship as having an "emotional love tank" and when that tank hits empty, that's when there is danger of the relationship ending. But by understanding and speaking your partners love language often, you can essentially keep that tank near full forever.
The Five Love Languages is an excellent relationship book, because it helps you to better express your love to your partner. I highly recommend it and give the book an 8.5 out of 10 rating.
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