Have you ever heard the phrase Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus? Well, this is mostly true. But I think there is a little more to it than that. Author Dr. Gary Chapman coined his own phrase about why women and men have difficulty communicating. It goes like this:
Your emotional love language and the language of your spouse may be as different as Chinese from English.
Sound about right? How many times have you thought to yourself “HE JUST DOESN’T LISTEN!!”
I, for one, am guilty of this. It’s always easier to point the finger. I am not an expert on love, nor am I a psychologist. But I am aware that many couples are desperately looking for ways to improve their relationship and create a long-lasting, joyful marriage. The advice by Dr. Chapman has helped my husband and I tweak our communication over the past six years. He identifies 5 different love languages that men and women receive and give in order to keep their “love tanks” full. He has been a pastor and counselor for over 30 years, and in that time, he has saved many marriages.
With Valentine’s Day approaching, I’ve been thinking about this book and can honestly say it’s only the second book I’ve read more than once!
The word “communication” is oversimplified.
For those of you who are married, you’ve probably heard from Marriage 101 books that the secret to a long-lasting marriage is communication. While I don’t doubt that, I think there’s more to it. What if the type of communication we are using isn’t effective to our significant other? What if we spend all day speaking kind words to our husband, but he would rather silence and walk through the neighborhood? Or what if you cook a lavish dinner every night to show him how much you appreciate him, but he would rather a hug and a good conversation?
Dr. Chapman describes 5 love languages as a means of communication within a relationship. And while we may have similar hobbies and values, it is rare that a couple speaks the same primary love language. Crazy! Everyone has a primary love language, but can have other secondary languages. Here they are:
- Words of Affirmation
- Quality Time
- Receiving Gifts
- Acts of Service
- Physical Touch
These are ways that both men and women feel deeply loved and adored. By understanding your SO’s primary love language, you can thoroughly convey love, appreciation, acceptance, joy, and admiration. Our natural instinct is to demonstrate our own love language. But if your hubby speaks a different language, it’s like talking to a brick wall.
For instance, my primary love language is acts of service followed by a secondary, quality time. When my husband comes home late from work, he tells me over and over again how sorry he is, but I don’t hear him. Why? Because, I don’t receive loving apologies with words; I want quality time that is now gone! Meanwhile, his primary love language is words of affirmation followed by his secondary, physical touch. He doesn’t understand why he can’t apologize his way out of it and cuddle on the sofa [enter argument or even worse, resentment].
We are both communicating in vastly different ways. We both love each other and want to show our emotions, but how do we communicate in the same language? Let me be the first to say, it’s not easy.
“We need not agree on everything, but we must find a way to handle our differences so that they do not become divisive.”
When my husband and I were dating, we read the 5 Love Languages for Singles. When we were married, we sat with our pastor through pre-marital counseling in preparation for marriage. Then we read the 5 Love Languages for married couples (along with a large stack of others). That was over 4 years ago. Since then we have been trying to remember all of the knowledge we gained while dating or engaged. It’s kind of like being in school. You put a lot of time and effort into studying for your desired profession. But, once you get your degree, you rely on memory or practical skills. Unless, of course, you complete your continuing education.
Think of the 5 Love Languages as continuing education.
Why don’t we spend more time fine tuning our relationship with our spouse? Do we just assume things will get better with time?
My husband and I have learned over the past few years that we need to pause before offering love, apologies, or acts of service. Instead of relying on our natural tendencies, we can take a step back and redirect our energy to a behavior that will have deep meaning to the other person.
I would highly recommend reading this book to discover your own love language and that of your spouse. It will not only improve the quality of your communication, but the pure joy that comes with a fulfilling marriage. It will help you understand why your husband wants to bring you a cup of coffee rather than spending all morning shopping with you. Or why he mumbled a simple “thanks” for the fancy watch you gave him for Christmas when you were hoping for a grand smile, hug and dance!
Take your own quiz. Give one to your husband. Read the book. It will change your relationship. It will keep your love tank full.
*Also, check out his other books about 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace, Teenagers, Children and more!