There's a secret most couples don't realize.
Love languages is a framework made popular by Dr. Gary Chapman in his book The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love that Lasts. The basic premise is that what feels like love and caring behavior to me may not communicate love and caring to you.
We all have a variety of love languages, but we need to understand our differences and preferences, and use that knowledge to effectively communicate love to one another.
In case you aren't familiar with the love languages, here's a list with examples:
Words of affirmation:
- Give compliments.
- Offer words of encouragement.
- Give undivided attention.
- Do quality activities.
- Don't need to receive expensive gifts.
- Consider giving a parade of gifts.
Acts of service:
- Do things you know your spouse wants you to do.
- Ask your spouse what he or she would like you to do.
- Holding hands, kissing, hugging, sex
- Find out how your spouse wants to be touched.
Can you identify the top two ways you prefer to receive love? What about your partner? The secret that most people don't see is that you most likely show love for your partner in the ways that you prefer to receive it, rather than in the ways your partner prefers to receive it.
If your partner does the same thing, it's no wonder that neither of you really feels understood or appreciated. You don't do this on purpose; it's just your natural and subconscious way of expressing love.
Pay attention and discuss the implications of this information with your partner. For one thing, it will help if you recognize that your partner has his or her own style of expressing love and you can learn to appreciate that more, even if it doesn't come in your preferred language.
Secondly, you can practice learning to show love to your partner in his or her preferred love language.
For example, if the husband's top love language is quality time and the wife's love language is words of affirmation, then a day hanging out doing a fun activity will make him quite happy. This experience may be just OK for her, unless the husband remembers to tell her how much fun it was hanging out with her and how much he appreciates her. Then, both partners will feel affirmed by the experience.
So ask your partner for examples of how to communicate more effectively in his or her love language. Make a commitment to use love languages to demonstrate love to one another consistently. Try it and notice how much fun it can be once you start practicing expressing your love in ways that feel like love to your partner.