What do you think of when you think of the word, “love?” We use that word, sometimes, loosely. “I love a good, rare steak. I love that color. I love your outfit. I love my husband.” All of those “loves” carry a little different meaning.
This month, I want to share a few pointers from a book that I recently read. I had read this book, maybe 20 years ago, but I re-read it and learned some new things! (I love when that happens!) The book is titled “The 5 Love Languages” by Gary Chapman. The author is primarily talking about five basic marital love languages. He uses many personal examples of how to know your spouse’s love language (and yours). By realizing this and changing a few things, you may help your marriage relationship.
In the space of this article, I can only give you a synopsis of what he wrote and hopefully tweak your interest in reading the book. If you want to improve your marriage, this is definitely an easy, fun read and application.
The premise of the book is that each marital partner has a “love language.” It is likened to an “emotional cup” that is either filled or empty. The fullness of our emotional cup is a large player in how we relate to one another- especially in marriage. (Sweet, crabby, thankful, critical…all relates!) It is good for us to know what makes our husband happy; we need to know what fills his emotional cup. It’s also good to know what fills our cup. I think most husbands want to know that. You know that old saying, “A happy wife, a happy life!”
There are basically five ways we speak love to our spouse. Most often, each person in the marriage has a different love language. (Here is where the fun begins!) It is our responsibility to know our spouse’s love language and help fill our spouse’s cup. It benefits them, and in the long run, benefits us!
Words of Affirmation: Some spouse’s love language is words of affirmation. Along with those encouraging words, the other spouse has to be careful not to use critical words. Daily mentioning of things like, “You look great in that suit!” or “I love how you take care of us!” is a good start in filling their emotional cup. You need to use words of request, not demand. Sometimes the spouse did not hear words of affirmation in childhood and really needs them as an adult. Most of us love hearing words of affirmation and every man needs encouraging words, but for some people, it is their love language. It is what fills their cup. So, it’s even MORE important for this wife to use words of affirmation. If this is your husband’s love language, watch his face and demeanor as you work hard at using words of affirmation.
Quality Time: This love language represents a cup that is really only filled by one’s spouse, when a couple spends quality time together. Spending time on the couch watching TV is not going to fill the cup. This is a commitment of time set aside, when your spouse gets to spend time with you. One who “speaks this language,” wants to connect fully. Think eye contact, listening for feelings, no interruptions, not doing something else while you are talking, etc. It is a commitment of TIME! Many wives and mothers might exhibit this need as they go about their day, busy with laundry, cooking, cleaning, disciplining and a host of many other demands. They just want to connect with their spouse. I actually hear this often with young couples. Often if this love language is not met, the spouse can feel very insecure. Quality time and quality conversation are needed.
Receiving/Giving Gifts: For some people, gifts- receiving or giving- is their primary love language. They are wrapped up in the “emotion” of selecting and giving the perfect gift. It has been explained to me as “giving a portion of themselves” to their spouse. It is a visual expression of love. Generally the cost of the gift is not the issue. I remember shortly after we were married, my husband bought me a dress. An ugly dress, mind you! He could tell by the expression on my face that it wasn’t a hit. He was so kind, he said, “If you don’t like it, we can take it back.” After we laughed about this, I told him he NEVER had to buy me gifts! Little did I know at that time, that my love language was not gifts. Thankfully, neither was his! I asked him when I reread this book if that hurt his feelings when I didn’t like the dress. He said, “Heavens, no! I was just glad I was off the hook for anymore gifts!” But, if it is your spouse’s love language, make sure you acknowledge and are thankful for the gift that he gives to you, OR make sure to make giving gifts to him a special consideration. It means that much to the gift giver. If you don’t, it can seem like rejection for the one whose love language is gifts.
Acts of Service: If this is your spouse’s love language, this will require you to do things that they would like you to do and on their time! This is part of my love language. I love it when my husband gets the laundry out of dryer, makes dinner, vacuums, helps me with projects, etc. This takes planning, forethought, time, and effort. It fills my cup! It truly is an “act of love.”
Physical Touch: Although physical touches take such a short time—hand holding, a hug, a touch on a shoulder, a kiss—for someone whose love language is physical touch, it is so important. If this isn’t your love language, but is his, you must think of it often, to fill his cup. This spouse needs a hug before they leave the house, a slight touch when you serve a cup of coffee, a hug, perhaps, while you are making supper—it truly is what fills their cup. If you think about how wonderful a hug or kind touch is during a crisis, this is how someone feels if this is their love language: the need is like a crisis for them. They NEED much human touch.
There is a tremendous amount of more good information and direction in the rest of this book. At the end, there is a “test” for both the wife and the husband to take to find what each love language is. Sometimes, if you just ask your spouse what their love language is, they can’t always tell you. Sometimes, what they “complain” about is actually their love language. Example of a wife: “You are never home!” simply means you are not spending TIME with her. He may say, “You don’t seem excited about my gifts!” His love language is GIFTS, and perhaps doesn’t feel appreciated in that way.
It’s such a good read. It helps us understand our spouse and ourselves. Knowing each other’s love language might just be the thing you need to help sweeten your relationship.
I always thought my love languages were Service and Time. But, after taking the little test, I am equally divided between Service and Affirmation! I didn’t know that, because my husband is always so sweet about telling me that dinner was great, or that project turned out great, or I look great. He has filled my “emotional tank” without me even knowing. His is TOUCH, as if you friends didn’t know!
I challenge you to buy this book and read it—with your spouse! Find out how you can sweeten your marriage. Happy Love Day!