What does it take for you to feel loved? Sandy sat baffled as she thought this to herself after her husband left for work one morning. He had shouted, “love you babe,” over the noise of their three young kids, as he rushed out the door in typical fashion. Still, she didn’t feel loved by this man. Sure, they have what many consider a happy marriage. Open communication, unshakable trust and intimacy yet; she felt a gnawing at her soul…and it said, “you aren’t genuinely loved anymore.” Dr. Gary Chapman, a marriage counselor for over thirty years would say that Sandy’s husband isn’t speaking her love language. A quick online assessment inspired by the Five Love Languages revealed that Sandy feels most loved when her husband performs acts of service; yet, he shows love by giving affirmations. If that morning, he would have instead brushed his daughter’s hair, fed the baby her oatmeal and packed a school lunch, Sandy might have been touched by his thoughtfulness, relieved of some stress that morning, and most importantly, felt loved that day.
Everyone has a unique way of receiving and reciprocating love. This is the same for you as it is for your partner and even your children. The good news is, once you know what your loved ones need to feel your love in their truest sense, you can incorporate their love language into your vocabulary. The same goes for getting your own emotional needs met and fostering the kind of connections and relationships you want. The Five Love Languages, as described by Dr. Chapman are as follows:
• Words of affirmation – This method uses the power of appreciation to show care. A simple, “thank you for taking out the trash,” or other positive acknowledgment can go a long way. By praising your partner or child, you make it likely that they will repeat the behavior, and show them they are valued in your eyes.
• Acts of Service – Sandy’s emotional void was filled after her husband discovered the small things he could do to take some of the burden off their busy home life. This made her feel cared about, and showed her that he values her. This speaks to the adage ‘actions speak louder than words,’ that you are willing to put aside what you might want to do for the sake of another. Moms’ do this all the time for their families, leaving some women without reserves to do the things they might want to do for themselves. This is why at times seeing your husband doing the dishes is the sexiest thing ever!
• Receiving Gifts – It’s the little things that count for the person who feels love thorough receiving gifts. These need not be expensive or elaborate, but a simple homemade card or handpicked flowers are a great way to show you care and that you are thinking of them.
• Quality Time – Giving your full, undivided attention without cellphones, the buzz from television screens and other sources of distraction shows your partner that they are important, and you are willing to let go of everything else in order to connect with them, and them alone. How hot is that?
• Physical Touch – It’s the primary way we feel love as infants. Reach out and touch your partner’s hand, don’t forget to give a hug or a kiss. Touch has neurological power as well, oxytocin and other feel good chemicals are released through the simple act of touching one another. So why not do it more?
Take the time for you and your partner to visit MauiFamilyCounseling.com and take the Five Love Languages assessment together. You will learn a lot about each other just through answering the questions, and it’s easy to convert questions to fit your children’s developmental stage and maturity too. Now go ahead and begin to connect more deeply with those you love!