People speak different love languages.
The important thing is to speak the love language of your spouse.
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.
My friend on the plane was speaking the language of “Affirming Words” to his third wife when he said, “I told her how beautiful she was. I told her I loved her. I told her how proud I was to be her husband.” He was speaking love, and he was sincere, but she did not understand his language. Perhaps she was looking for love in his behavior and didn’t see it. Being sincere is not enough. We must be willing to learn our spouse’s primary love language if we are to be effective communicators of love.
Seldom do a husband and wife have the same primary emotional love language. We tend to speak our primary love language, and we become confused when our spouse does not understand what we are communicating.
WHAT IS LOVE? …. If all that is not confusing enough, we also use the word love to explain behavior. “I did it because I love her.” That explanation is given for all kinds of actions. A man is involved in an adulterous relationship, and he calls it love. The preacher, on the other hand, calls it sin. The wife of an alcoholic picks up the pieces after her husband’s latest episode. She calls it love, but the psychologist calls it codependency. The parent indulges all the child’s wishes, calling it love. The family therapist would call it irresponsible parenting. What is loving behavior?
Nový zákon: Korintským 12:13 Do té doby nám zůstává víra, naděje a láska, tato trojice; ale největší z nich je láska.
“I know it’s crazy, but I am so happy. I have never been this happy in my life.”
What has happened to Janice? She has fallen in love. In her mind, David is the most wonderful man she has ever met. He is perfect in every way. He will make the ideal husband. She thinks about him day and night. The facts that David has been married twice before, has three children, and has had three jobs in the past year are trivial to Janice. She’s happy, and she is convinced that she is going to be happy forever with David. She is in love.
After we come down from the high of the “in love” obsession, the emotional need for love resurfaces because it is fundamental to our nature. It is at the center of our emotional desires. We needed love before we “fell in love,” and we will need it as long as we live.
The average life span of a romantic obsession is two years. If it is a secretive love affair, it may last a little longer. Eventually, however, we all descend from the clouds and plant our feet on earth again.
LIMERENCE – mimořádně intenzivní a často dlouhodobý psychický stav charakterizovaný kladným až k osobnostní závislosti vystupňovaným emotivním a idealizovaným vztahem a náklonností k druhé osobě jiného pohlaví (heterolimerence) nebo stejného pohlaví (homolimerence). Vztah se podobá bondingu či attachmentu. Do humánních věd byl termín limerence zaveden americkou psycholožkou Dorothy Tenov (1928-2007). (lepší pojmenování zamilovanosti)
Falling-in-love experience is not real love for three reasons. First, falling in love is not an act of the will or a conscious choice. No matter how much we may want to fall in love, we cannot make it happen. On the other hand, we may not be seeking the experience when it overtakes us. Often, we fall in love at inopportune times and with unlikely people.
Second, falling in love is not real love because it is effortless. Whatever we do in the in-love state requires little discipline or conscious effort on our part. The long, expensive phone calls we make to each other, the money we spend traveling to see each other, the gifts we give, the work projects we do are as nothing to us. As the instinctual nature of the bird dictates the building of a nest, so the instinctual nature of the in-love experience pushes us to do outlandish and unnatural things for each other.
Third, one who is “in love” is not genuinely interested in fostering the personal growth of the other person. “If we have any purpose in mind when we fall in love it is to terminate our own loneliness and perhaps ensure this result through marriage.” The in-love experience does not focus on our own growth nor on the growth and development of the other person. Rather, it gives us the sense that we have arrived and that we do not need further growth. We are at the apex of life’s happiness, and our only desire is to stay there. Certainly our beloved does not need to grow because she is perfect. We simply hope she will remain perfect.
If falling in love is not real love, what is it?
Dr. Peck concludes that it “is a genetically determined instinctual component of mating behavior. In other words, the temporary collapse of ego boundaries that constitutes falling in love is a stereotypic response of human beings to a configuration of internal sexual drives and external sexual stimuli, which serves to increase the probability of sexual pairing and bonding so as to enhance the survival of the species.”
We cannot take credit for the kind and generous things we do while under the influence of “the obsession.” We are pushed and carried along by an instinctual force that goes beyond our normal behavior patterns. But if, once we return to the real world of human choice, we choose to be kind and generous, that is real love.
We can recognize the in-love experience for what it was—a temporary emotional high—and now pursue “real love” with our spouse. That kind of love is emotional in nature but not obsessional. It is a love that unites reason and emotion. It involves an act of the will and requires discipline, and it recognizes the need for personal growth. In fact, true love cannot begin until the “in love” experience has run its course.
Welcome to the real world of marriage, where hairs are always on the sink and little white spots cover the mirror, where arguments center on which way the toilet paper comes off and whether the lid should be up or down. It is a world where shoes do not walk to the closet and drawers do not close themselves, where coats do not like hangers and socks go AWOL during laundry. In this world, a look can hurt and a word can crush. Intimate lovers can become enemies, and marriage a battlefield.
Once the experience of falling in love has run its natural course (remember, the average in-love experience lasts two years), we will return to the world of reality and begin to assert ourselves. He will express his desires, but his desires will be different from hers. He desires sex, but she is too tired. He wants to buy a new car, but she says, “That’s absurd!” She wants to visit her parents, but he says, “I don’t like spending so much time with your family.” He wants to play in the softball tournament, and she says, “You love softball more than you love me.” Little by little, the illusion of intimacy evaporates, and the individual desires, emotions, thoughts, and behavior patterns exert themselves. They are two individuals. Their minds have not melded together, and their emotions mingled only briefly in the ocean of love. Now the waves of reality begin to separate them. They fall out of love, and at that point either they withdraw, separate, divorce, and set off in search of a new in-love experience, or they begin the hard work of learning to love each other without the euphoria of the in- love obsession.
Presently 40 percent of first marriages in this country end in divorce. Sixty percent of second marriages and 75 percent of third marriages end the same way. Apparently the prospect of a happier marriage the second and third time around is not substantial.
The emotional need for love must be met if we are to have emotional health.
Married adults long to feel affection and love from their spouses. We feel secure when we are assured that our mate accepts us, wants us, and is committed to our well-being.
Love is the attitude that says, “I am married to you, and I choose to look out for your interests.” Then the one who chooses to love will find appropriate ways to express that decision.
“But it seems so sterile,” some may contend. “Love as an attitude with appropriate behavior? Where are the shooting stars, the balloons, the deep emotions? What about the spirit of anticipation, the twinkle of the eye, the electricity of a kiss, the excitement of sex? What about the emotional security of knowing that I am number one in his/her mind?”
That is what this book is all about. How do we meet each other’s deep, emotional need to feel loved? If we can learn that and choose to do it, then the love we share will be exciting beyond anything we ever felt when we were infatuated.
Love Language #1 WORDS OF AFFIRMATION
Verbal compliments, or words of appreciation, are powerful communicators of love. They are best expressed in simple, straightforward statements of affirmation, such as:
“You look sharp in that suit.”
“Do you ever look nice in that dress! Wow!”
“You must be the best potato cook in the world. I love these potatoes.”
“I really appreciate your washing the dishes tonight.”
“Thanks for getting the baby-sitter lined up tonight. I want you to know I don’t take that for granted.”
“I really appreciate your taking the garbage out.”
It is a fact, that when we receive affirming words we are far more likely to be motivated to reciprocate and do something our spouse desires.
I am talking about encouraging him to develop an interest that he already has. For example, some husbands pressure their wives to lose weight. The husband says, “I am encouraging her,” but to the wife it sounds like condemnation. Only when a person wants to lose weight can you give her encouragement. Until she has the desire, your words will fall into the category of preaching. Such words seldom encourage. They are almost always heard as words of judgment, designed to stimulate guilt. They express not love but rejection.
Encouragement requires empathy and seeing the world from your spouse’s perspective. We must first learn what is important to our spouse. Only then can we give encouragement. With verbal encouragement, we are trying to communicate, “I know. I care. I am with you. How can I help?”
“If you decide to do that, I can tell you one thing. You will be a success. That’s one of the things I like about you. When you set your mind to something, you do it. If that’s what you want to do, I will certainly do everything I can to help you. And don’t worry about the cost of the program. If it’s what you want to do, we’ll find the money.”
“I felt disappointed and hurt that you didn’t offer to help me this evening,” said in an honest, kind manner can be an expression of love. The person speaking wants to be known by her spouse. She is taking steps to build intimacy by sharing her feelings. She is asking for an opportunity to discuss a hurt in order to find healing.
You will seek to put yourself in his shoes and see the event through his eyes and then express softly and kindly your understanding of why he feels that way. If you have wronged him, you will be willing to confess the wrong and ask forgiveness. If your motivation is different from what he is reading, you will be able to explain your motivation kindly. You will seek understanding and reconciliation, and not to prove your own perception as the only logical way to interpret what has happened.
We have sometimes done and said hurtful things to our spouses. We cannot erase the past. We can only confess it and agree that it was wrong. We can ask for forgiveness and try to act differently in the future.
I am amazed by how many individuals mess up every new day with yesterday. They insist on bringing into today the failures of yesterday and in so doing, they pollute a potentially wonderful day. “I can’t believe you did it. I don’t think I’ll ever forget it. You can’t possibly know how much you hurt me. I don’t know how you can sit there so smugly after you treated me that way. You ought to be crawling on your knees, begging me for forgiveness. I don’t know if I can ever forgive you.” Those are not the words of love but of bitterness and resentment and revenge.
If we are to develop an intimate relationship, we need to know each other’s desires. If we wish to love each other, we need to know what the other person wants.
The best thing we can do with the failures of the past is to let them be history. Yes, it happened. Certainly it hurt. And it may still hurt, but he has acknowledged his failure and asked your forgiveness. We cannot erase the past, but we can accept it as history. We can choose to live today free from the failures of yesterday. Forgiveness is not a feeling; it is a commitment. It is a choice to show mercy, not to hold the offense up against the offender. Forgiveness is an expression of love. “I love you. I care about you, and I choose to forgive you. Even though my feelings of hurt may linger, I will not allow what has happened to come between us. I hope that we can learn from this experience. You are not a failure because you have failed. You are my spouse, and together we will go on from here.”
When I demand things from my spouse, I become a parent and she the child. It is the parent who tells the three-year-old what he ought to do and, in fact, what he must do. That is necessary because the three-year-old does not yet know how to navigate in the treacherous waters of life. In marriage, however, we are equal, adult partners.
The way we express desires, however, is all – important. If they come across as demands, we have erased the possibility of intimacy and will drive our spouse away. If, however, we make known our needs and desires as requests, we are giving guidance, not ultimatums.
The husband who says, “You know those apple pies you make? Would it be possible for you to make one this week? I love those apple pies,” is giving his wife guidance on how to love him and thus build intimacy. On the other hand, the husband who says, “Haven’t had an apple pie since the baby was born. Don’t guess I’ll get any more apple pies for eighteen years,” has ceased being an adult and has reverted to adolescent behavior. Such demands do not build intimacy. The wife who says, “Do you think it will be possible for you to clean the gutters this weekend?” is expressing love by making a request. But the wife who says, “If you don’t get those gutters cleaned out soon, they are going to fall off the house. They already have trees growing out of them!” has ceased to love and has become a domineering spouse.
Words of affirmation are one of the five basic love languages. Within that language, however, there are many dialects. We have discussed a few already, and there are many more. Entire volumes and numerous articles have been written on these dialects. All of the dialects have in common the use of words to affirm one’s spouse.
If your spouse’s love language is Words of Affirmation:
1. To remind yourself that “Words of Affirmation” is your spouse’s primary love language, print the following on a 3×5 card and put it on a mirror or other place where you will see it daily:
Words are important! Words are important! Words are important!
2. For one week, keep a written record of all the words of affirmation you give your spouse each day. At the end of the week, sit down with your spouse and review your record.
On Monday, I said:
“You did a great job on this meal.”
“You really look nice in that outfit.”
“I really appreciate your picking up the laundry.”
Write a love letter, a love paragraph, or a love sentence to your spouse, and give it quietly or with fanfare!
Compliment your spouse in the presence of his parents or friends. You will get double credit: Your spouse will feel loved and the parents will feel lucky to have such a great son-in-law or daughter-in-law.
If you find speaking “Words of Affirmation” is difficult for you, practice in front of a mirror. Use a cue card if you must, and remember, words are important.
Love Language #2 QUALITY TIME
By “quality time,” I mean giving someone your undivided attention. I don’t mean sitting on the couch watching television together. When you spend time that way, ABC or NBC has your attention—not your spouse. What I mean is sitting on the couch with the TV off, looking at each other and talking, giving each other your undivided attention. It means taking a walk, just the two of you, or going out to eat and looking at each other and talking.
Dating couples look at each other and talk. Married couples sit there and gaze around the restaurant. You’d think they went there to eat!
I explained the concept of giving someone your undivided attention, not talking to her while you read the newspaper or watch television but looking into her eyes, giving her your full attention, doing something with her that she enjoys doing and doing it wholeheartedly.
Quality time does not mean that we have to spend our together moments gazing into each other’s eyes. It means that we are doing something together and that we are giving our full attention to the other person. The activity in which we are both engaged is incidental. The important thing emotionally is that we are spending focused time with each other. The activity is a vehicle that creates the sense of togetherness.
Most individuals who complain that their spouse does not talk do not mean literally that he or she never says a word. They mean that he or she seldom takes part in sympathetic dialogue.
If your spouse’s primary love language is quality time, such dialogue is crucial to his or her emotional sense of being loved. Quality conversation is quite different from the first love language. Words of affirmation focus on what we are saying, whereas quality conversation focuses on what we are hearing. If I am sharing my love for you by means of quality time and we are going to spend that time in conversation, it means I will focus on drawing you out, listening sympathetically to what you have to say. I will ask questions, not in a badgering manner but with a genuine desire to understand your thoughts, feelings, and desires.
Emotionally, she longed for him to focus attention on her by listening to her pain and frustration. Patrick was not focusing on listening but on speaking. He listened only long enough to hear the problem and formulate a solution. He didn’t listen long enough or well enough to hear her cry for support and understanding.
1 .Maintain eye contact when your spouse is talking. That keeps your mind from wandering and communicates that he/she has your full attention.
2 . Don’t listen to your spouse and do something else at the same time. Remember, quality time is giving someone your undivided attention. If you are watching, reading, or doing something else in which you are keenly interested and cannot turn from immediately, tell your spouse the truth. A positive approach might be, “I know you are trying to talk to me and I’m interested, but I want to give you my full attention. I can’t do that right now, but if you will give me ten minutes to finish this, I’ll sit down and listen to you.” Most spouses will respect such a request.
3. Listen for feelings. Ask yourself, “What emotion is my spouse experiencing?” When you think you have the answer, confirm it. For example, “It sounds to me like you are feeling disappointed because I forgot __________.” That gives him the chance to clarify his feelings. It also communicates that you are listening intently to what he is saying.
4. Observe body language. Clenched fists, trembling hands, tears, furrowed brows, and eye movement may give you clues as to what the other is feeling. Sometimes body language speaks one message while words speak another. Ask for clarification to make sure you know what she is really thinking and feeling.
5. Refuse to interrupt. Recent research has indicated that the average individual listens for only seventeen seconds before interrupting and interjecting his own ideas. If I give you my undivided attention while you are talking, I will refrain from defending myself or hurling accusations at you or dogmatically stating my position. My goal is to discover your thoughts and feelings. My objective is not to defend myself or to set you straight. It is to understand you.
LEARNING TO TALK:
Quality conversation requires not only sympathetic listening but also self-revelation.
When a wife says, “I wish my husband would talk. I never know what he’s thinking or feeling,” she is pleading for intimacy. She wants to feel close to her husband, but how can she feel close to someone whom she doesn’t know? In order for her to feel loved, he must learn to reveal himself. If her primary love language is quality time and her dialect is quality conversation, her emotional love tank will never be filled until he tells her his thoughts and feelings.
Self-revelation does not come easy for some of us. Many adults grew up in homes where the expression of thoughts and feelings was not encouraged but condemned. To request a toy was to receive a lecture on the sad state of family finances. The child went away feeling guilty for having the desire, and he quickly learned not to express his desires. When he expressed anger, the parents responded with harsh and condemning words. Thus, the child learned that expressing angry feelings is not appropriate. If the child was made to feel guilty for expressing disappointment at not being able to go to the store with his father, he learned to hold his disappointment inside. By the time we reach adulthood, many of us have learned to deny our feelings. We are no longer in touch with our emotional selves.
A wife says to her husband, “How did you feel about what Don did?” And the husband responds, “I think he was wrong. He should have—” but he is not telling her his feelings. He is voicing his thoughts. Perhaps he has reason to feel angry, hurt, or disappointed, but he has lived so long in the world of thought that he does not acknowledge his feelings. When he decides to learn the language of quality conversation, it will be like learning a foreign language. The place to begin is by getting in touch with his feelings, becoming aware that he is an emotional creature in spite of the fact that he has denied that part of his life.
If you need to learn the language of quality conversation, begin by noting the emotions you feel away from home. Carry a small notepad and keep it with you daily. Three times each day, ask yourself, “What emotions have I felt in the last three hours? What did I feel on the way to work when the driver behind me was riding my bumper? What did I feel when I stopped at the gas station and the automatic pump did not shut off and the side of the car was covered with gas? What did I feel when I got to the office and found that my secretary had been assigned to a special work project for the morning?
Do that exercise three times a day, and you will develop an awareness of your emotional nature. Using your notepad, communicate your emotions and the events briefly with your spouse as many days as possible. In a few weeks, you will become comfortable expressing your emotions with him or her. And eventually you will feel comfortable discussing your emotions toward your spouse, the children, and events that occur within the home.
Remember, emotions themselves are neither good nor bad. They are simply our psychological responses to the events of life.
I have observed two basic personality types. The first I call the “Dead Sea.” In the little nation of Israel, the Sea of Galilee flows south by way of the Jordan River into the Dead Sea. The Dead Sea goes nowhere. It receives but it does not give. This personality type receives many experiences, emotions, and thoughts throughout the day. They have a large reservoir where they store that information, and they are perfectly happy not to talk. If you say to a Dead Sea personality, “What’s wrong? Why aren’t you talking tonight?” he will probably answer, “Nothing’s wrong. What makes you think something’s wrong?” And that response is perfectly honest. He is content not to talk. He could drive from Chicago to Detroit and never say a word and be perfectly happy.
On the other extreme is the “Babbling Brook.” For this personality, whatever enters into the eye gate or the ear gate comes out the mouth gate and there are seldom sixty seconds between the two. Whatever they see, whatever they hear, they tell. In fact if no one is at home to talk to, they will call someone else. “Do you know what I saw? Do you know what I heard?” If they can’t get someone on the telephone, they may talk to themselves because they have no reservoir. Many times a Dead Sea marries a Babbling Brook. That happens because when they are dating, it is a very attractive match.
If you are a Dead Sea and you date a Babbling Brook, you will have a wonderful evening. You don’t have to think, “How will I get the conversation started tonight? How will I keep the conversation flowing?” In fact, you don’t have to think at all. All you have to do is nod your head and say, “Uh-huh,” and she will fill up the whole evening and you will go home saying, “What a wonderful person.” On the other hand, if you are a Babbling Brook and you date a Dead Sea, you will have an equally wonderful evening because Dead Seas are the world’s best listeners. You will babble for three hours. He will listen intently to you, and you will go home saying, “What a wonderful person.” You attract each other. But five years after marriage, the Babbling Brook wakes up one morning and says, “We’ve been married five years, and I don’t know him.” The Dead Sea is saying, “I know her too well. I wish she would stop the flow and give me a break.” The good news is that Dead Seas can learn to talk and Babbling Brooks can learn to listen. We are influenced by our personality but not controlled by it.
One way to learn new patterns is to establish a daily sharing time in which each of you will talk about three things that happened to you that day and how you feel about them. I call that the “Minimum Daily Requirement” for a healthy marriage. If you will start with the daily minimum, in a few weeks or months you may find quality conversation flowing more freely between you.
The emphasis is not on what you are doing but on why you are doing it. The purpose is to experience something together, to walk away from it feeling “He cares about me. He was willing to do something with me that I enjoy, and he did it with a positive attitude.” That is love, and for some people it is love’s loudest voice.
The essential ingredients in a quality activity are: (1) at least one of you wants to do it, (2) the other is willing to do it, (3) both of you know why you are doing it—to express love by being together.
One of the by-products of quality activities is that they provide a memory bank from which to draw in the years ahead. Fortunate is the couple who remembers an early morning stroll along the coast, the spring they planted the flower garden, the time they got poison ivy chasing the rabbit through the woods, the night they attended their first major league baseball game together, the one and only time they went skiing together and he broke his leg, the amusement parks, the concerts, the cathedrals, and oh, yes, the awe of standing beneath the waterfall after the two- mile hike. They can almost feel the mist as they remember. Those are memories of love, especially for the person whose primary love language is quality time.
And where do we find time for such activities, especially if both of us have vocations outside the home? We make time just as we make time for lunch and dinner. Why? Because it is just as essential to our marriage as meals are to our health. Is it difficult? Does it take careful planning? Yes. Does it mean we have to give up some individual activities? Perhaps. Does it mean we do some things we don’t particularly enjoy? Certainly. Is it worth it? Without a doubt. What’s in it for me? The pleasure of living with a spouse who feels loved and knowing that I have learned to speak his or her love language fluently.
If your spouse’s love language is Quality Time:
1. Take a walk together through the old neighborhood where one of you grew up. Ask questions about your spouse’s childhood. Ask, “What are the fun memories of your childhood?” Then, “What was most painful about your childhood?”
2. Go to the city park and rent bicycles. Ride until you are tired, then sit and watch the ducks. When you get tired of the quacks, roll on to the rose garden. Learn each other’s favorite color of rose and why. (If the bikes are too much, take turns pulling each other in a little red wagon.)
3. In the spring or summer make a luncheon appointment with your spouse. Meet him and drive to the local cemetery. Spread your tablecloth and eat your sandwiches and thank God that you are still alive. Share with each other one thing you would like to do before you die.
4. Ask your spouse for a list of five activities that he would enjoy doing with you. Make plans to do one of them each month for the next five months. If money is a problem, space the freebies between the “we can’t afford this” events.
5. Ask your spouse where she most enjoys sitting when talking with you. The next week, call her one afternoon and say, “I want to make a date with you one evening this week to sit on the yellow sofa and talk. Which night and what time would be best for you?” (Don’t say “yellow sofa” if her favorite place is in the Jacuzzi!)
6. Think of an activity your spouse enjoys, but which brings little pleasure to you: football, symphony, jazz concert, or TV sleeping. Tell your spouse that you are trying to broaden your horizons and would like to join her in this activity sometime this month. Set a date and give it your best effort. Ask questions about the activity at break times.
7. Plan a weekend getaway just for the two of you sometime within the next six months. Be sure it is a weekend when you won’t have to call the office or turn on the TV for a report every thirty minutes. Focus on relaxing together doing what one or both of you enjoy.
8. Make time every day to share with each other some of the events of the day. When you spend more time watching the news than you do listening to each other, you end up more concerned about Bosnia than about your spouse.
9. Have a “Let’s review our history” evening once every three months. Set aside an hour to focus on your history. Select five questions each of you will answer, such as:
(1) Who was your best and worst teacher in school and why? (2) When did you feel your parents were proud of you? (3) What is the worst mistake your mother ever made? (4) What is the worst mistake your father ever made? (5) What do you remember about the religious aspect of your childhood?
Each evening, agree on your five questions before you begin your sharing. At the end of the five questions, stop and decide upon the five questions you will ask next time.
10. Camp out by the fireplace (or an orange lamp). Spread your blankets and pillows on the floor. Get your Pepsi and popcorn. Pretend the TV is broken and talk like you used to when you were dating. Talk till the sun comes up or something else happens. If the floor gets too hard, go back upstairs and go to bed. You won’t forget this evening!
Love Language #3 RECEIVING GIFTS
Gifts are visual symbols of love. Most wedding ceremonies include the giving and receiving of rings. The person performing the ceremony says, “These rings are outward and visible signs of an inward and spiritual bond that unites your two hearts in love that has no end.” That is not meaningless rhetoric. It is verbalizing a significant truth —symbols have emotional value.
If receiving gifts is my primary love language, I will place great value on the ring you have given me and I will wear it with great pride.
Make a list of all the gifts your spouse has expressed excitement about receiving through the years. They may be gifts you have given or gifts given by other family members or friends. The list will give you an idea of the kind of gifts your spouse would enjoy receiving. If you have little or no knowledge about selecting the kinds of gifts on your list, recruit the help of family members who know your spouse. In the meantime, select gifts that you feel comfortable purchasing, making, or finding, and give them to your spouse. Don’t wait for a special occasion. If receiving gifts is his/her primary love language, almost anything you give will be received as an expression of love.
Physical presence in the time of crisis is the most powerful gift you can give if your spouse’s primary love language is receiving gifts. Your body becomes the symbol of your love.
If your spouse’s love language is Receiving Gifts:
1. Try a parade of gifts: Leave a box of candy for your spouse in the morning (yogurt candy if health is an issue); have flowers delivered in the afternoon (unless your spouse is allergic to flowers); give him a shirt in the evening. When your spouse asks, “What is going on?” you respond: “Just trying to fill your love tank!”
2. Let nature be your guide: The next time you take a walk through the neighborhood, keep your eyes open for a gift for your spouse. It may be a stone, a stick, or a flower (be sure to ask your neighbor, if the flower is not in your own yard). You may even attach special meaning to your natural gift. For example, a smooth stone may symbolize your marriage with many of the rough places now polished. A rose may remind you of the beauty you see in your spouse.
3. Discover the value of “handmade originals.” Make a gift for your spouse. This may require you to enroll in an art or crafts class: ceramics, silversmithing, painting, wood carving, etc. Your main purpose for enrolling is to make your spouse a gift. A handmade gift often becomes a family heirloom.
4. Give your spouse a gift every day for one week. It need not be a special week, just any week. I promise you it will become “The Week That Was!” If you are really energetic, you can make it “The Month That Was!” No—your spouse will not expect you to keep this up for a lifetime.
5. Keep a “Gift Idea Notebook.” Every time you hear your spouse say: “I really like that,” or “Oh, I would really like to have one of those!” write it down in your notebook. Listen carefully and you will get quite a list. This will serve as a guide when you get ready to select a gift. To prime the pump, you may look through a shopping catalog together.
6. “Help! I’m confused!” If you really don’t have a clue as to how to select a gift for your spouse, ask a friend or family member who knows your wife or husband well to help you. Most people enjoy making a friend happy by getting them a gift, especially if it is with your money.
7. Offer the gift of presence. Say to your spouse: “I want to offer the gift of my presence at any event or on any occasion you would like this month. You tell me when, and I will make every effort to be there.” Get ready! Be positive! Who knows, you may enjoy the symphony or the hockey game.
8. Give your spouse a book and agree to read it yourself. Then offer to discuss together a chapter each week. Don’t choose a book that you want him or her to read. Choose a book on a topic in which you know your spouse has an interest: sex, football, needlework, money management, child rearing, religion, or backpacking.
9. Give a lasting tribute. Give a substantial gift to your spouse’s church or favorite charity in honor of her birthday, your anniversary, or another occasion. Ask the charity to send a card informing your spouse of what you have done. The church or charity will be excited and so will your spouse.
10. Give a living gift. Purchase and plant a tree or flowering shrub in honor of your spouse. You may plant it in your own yard, where you can water and nurture it, or in a public park or forest where others can also enjoy it. You will get credit for this one year after year. If it is an apple tree, you may live long enough to get an apple. One warning: Don’t plant a crab apple tree!
Love Language #4 ACTS OF SERVICE
By acts of service, I mean doing things you know your spouse would like you to do. You seek to please her by serving her, to express your love for her by doing things for her.
No one likes to be forced to do anything. In fact, love is always freely given. Love cannot be demanded. We can request things of each other, but we must never demand anything. Requests give direction to love, but demands stop the flow of love.
I was demanding and critical of her because I was disappointed in her as a wife. I know I said some cruel things, and I understand how she could be upset with me.
Mark, I want you to list three or four things that if Mary chose to do them would make you feel loved when you walk into the house in the afternoon. If making the bed is important to you, then put it down. Mary, I want you to make a list of three or four things that you would really like to have Mark’s help in doing, things which, if he chose to do them, would help you know that he loved you.”
What we do for each other before marriage is no indication of what we will do after marriage.
Criticism and demands tend to drive wedges. With enough criticism, you may get acquiescence from your spouse. He may do what you want, but probably it will not be an expression of love.
Each of us must decide daily to love or not to love our spouses. If we choose to love, then expressing it in the way in which our spouse requests will make our love most effective emotionally.
People tend to criticize their spouse most loudly in the area where they themselves have the deepest emotional need. Their criticism is an ineffective way of pleading for love. If we understand that, it may help us process their criticism in a more productive manner. A wife may say to her husband after he gives her a criticism, “It sounds like that is extremely important to you. Could you explain why it is so crucial?” Criticism often needs clarification. Initiating such a conversation may eventually turn the criticism into a request rather than a demand.
Due to the sociological changes of the past thirty years, there is no longer a common stereotype of the male and female role in American society.
If your spouse’s love language is Acts of Service:
1. Make a list of all the requests your spouse has made of you over the past few weeks. Select one of these each week and do it as an expression of love.
2. Cut out some heart-shaped note cards and print the following:
“Today I will show my love for you by…” Complete the sentence with one of the following: mowing the lawn, vacuuming the floor, washing dishes, taking the dog for a walk, cleaning the fish bowl, etc.
Give your spouse a love note accompanied by the act of service every three days for a month.
3. Ask your spouse to make a list of ten things he or she would like for you to do during the next month. Then ask your spouse to prioritize those by numbering them 1–10, with 1 being the most important and 10 being least important. Use this list to plan your strategy for a month of love. (Get ready to live with a happy spouse.)
4. While your spouse is away, get the children to help you with some act of service for him. When he walks in the door, join the children in shouting “Surprise! We love you!” Then share your act of service.
5. What one act of service has your spouse nagged about consistently? Why not decide to see the nag as a tag? Your spouse is tagging this as really important to him or her. If you choose to do it as an expression of love, it is worth more than a thousand roses.
6. If your spouse’s requests for acts of service come across as nags or put-downs, try writing them in words that would be less offensive to you. Share this revised wording with your spouse. For example, “Honey, I love you so much. You are a hardworking man and I really appreciate you. I’d love to thank you in advance for mowing the lawn this week before Thursday when Mary and Bob come over for dinner.” Your husband might even respond: “Where is the lawn mower, I can’t wait!” Try it and see.
7. Do some major acts of service like washing the car, cooking a meal, painting a bedroom, or washing the deck, and then post a sign that reads, “To (spouse’s name) with love,” and sign your name.
8. If you have more money than time, hire someone to do the acts of service that you know your spouse would like for you to do, such as the lawn, the housecleaning, the car washing, the laundry. If you take the responsibility for getting it done, you will be speaking love even when you are away.
9. Ask your spouse to tell you the daily acts of service that would really speak love to him or her. These might include such things as putting your dirty clothes in the hamper, getting the hairs out of the sink, hanging up your clothes at night, closing the door when you go outside, preparing a meal, and washing the dishes. Seek to work these into your daily schedule. “Little things” really do mean a lot.
10. Periodically ask your spouse, “If I could do one special act of service this week, what would you request?” If possible, do it and watch your spouse’s love tank fill up!
Love Language #5 PHYSICAL TOUCH
Babies who are held, hugged, and kissed develop a healthier emotional life than those who are left for long periods of time without physical contact.
Wise parents, in any culture, are touching parents.
Holding hands, kissing, embracing, and sexual intercourse are all ways of communicating emotional love to one’s spouse.
Tiny tactile receptors are located throughout the body. When those receptors are touched or pressed, nerves carry impulses to the brain. The brain interprets these impulses and we perceive that the thing that touched us is warm or cold, hard or soft. It causes pain or pleasure. We may also interpret it as loving or hostile.
Physical touch can make or break a relationship. It can communicate hate or love.
If sexual intercourse is your mate’s primary dialect, reading about and discussing the art of sexual lovemaking will enhance your expression of love.
If your spouse’s primary love language is physical touch, nothing is more important than holding her as she cries.
The open marriage where both spouses are free to have sexual intimacies with other individuals is fanciful. Those who do not object on moral grounds eventually object on emotional grounds. Something about our need for intimacy and love does not allow us to give our spouse such freedom. The emotional pain is deep and intimacy evaporates when we are aware that our spouse is involved with someone else sexually.
That trauma, however, is compounded for the individual whose primary love language is physical touch. That for which he longs so deeply—love expressed by physical touch—is now being given to another. His emotional love tank is not only empty; it has been riddled by an explosion. It will take massive repairs for those emotional needs to be met.
In a time of crisis, more than anything, we need to feel loved. We cannot always change events, but we can survive if we feel loved.
I decided I would not take the initiative because I didn’t want to be rejected. So I waited to see how long it would be before she’d initiate a kiss or a touch or sexual intercourse. Once I waited for six weeks before she touched me at all. I found it unbearable. My withdrawal was to stay away from the pain I felt when I was with her. I felt rejected, unwanted, and unloved.
Running the hand through the hair, giving a back rub, holding hands, embracing, sexual intercourse—all of those and other “love touches” are the emotional lifeline of the person for whom physical touch is the primary love language.
If your spouse’s love language is Physical Touch:
1. As you walk from the car to the shopping mall, reach out and hold your spouse’s hand. (Unless, of course, you have three preschool children with you.)
2. While eating together, let your knee or foot drift over and touch your spouse. Be careful you are not rubbing the dog.
3. Walk up to your spouse and say, “Have I told you lately that I love you?” Take her in your arms and hug her while you rub her back and continue. “You are the greatest!” (Resist the temptation to rush to the bedroom.) Untangle yourself and move on to the next thing.
4. While your spouse is seated, walk up behind her and initiate a shoulder massage. Continue for five minutes unless your spouse begs you to stop.
5. If you sit together in church, when the minister calls for prayer reach over and hold your spouse’s hand.
6. Initiate sex by giving your spouse a foot massage. Continue to other parts of the body as long as it brings pleasure to your spouse.
7. Run the water in the Jacuzzi and announce to your spouse that you are looking for a partner to join you.
8. Riding down the road together, reach over and touch your spouse on the leg, stomach, arm, hand, or…If he or she says “stop!” by all means put on the brakes.
9. When family or friends are visiting, touch your spouse in their presence. A hug, running your hand along his or her arm, putting your arm around his as you stand talking, or simply placing your hand on her shoulder can earn double emotional points. It says, “Even with all these people in our house, I still see you.”
10. When your spouse arrives at home, meet him or her one step earlier than usual and give your mate a big hug. If you normally meet at the door, go to the garage. If you normally meet in the garage, go to the street. Then, as the car turns into the driveway, stop your mate, lean into the lowered window, and give him or her a kiss. If you normally meet at the street, hide in the parking area and step out as your mate opens the door and give him or her a hug. (Be sure your mate sees you before you hug him or her.)
What is you primary love language?
Spend some time writing down what you think is your primary love language. Then list the other four in order of importance.
I have suggested three ways to discover your own primary love language.
1. What does your spouse do or fail to do that hurts you most deeply? The opposite of what hurts you most is probably your love language.
2. What have you most often requested of your spouse? The thing you have most often requested is likely the thing that would make you feel most loved.
3. In what way do you regularly express love to your spouse? Your method of expressing love may be an indication that that would also make you feel loved.
Sit down with your spouse and discuss what you guessed to be his/her primary love language. Then tell each other what you consider to be your own primary love language.
Once you have shared that information, I suggest that you play the following game three times a week for three weeks. The game is called “Tank Check,” and it is played like this. When you come home, one of you says to the other, “On a scale of zero to ten, how is your love tank tonight?” Zero means empty, and 10 means “I am full of love and can’t handle any more.” You give a reading on your emotional love tank—10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, or 0, indicating how full it is. Your spouse says, “What could I do to help fill it?”
Then you make a suggestion—something you would like your spouse to do or say that evening. To the best of his ability, he will respond to your request. Then you repeat the process in the reverse order so that both of you have the opportunity to do a reading on your love tank and to make a suggestion toward filling it. If you play the game for three weeks, you will be hooked on it, and it can be a playful way of stimulating love expressions in your marriage.
LOVE IS A CHOICE
How can we speak each other’s love language when we are full of hurt, anger, and resentment over past failures? The answer to that question lies in the essential nature of our humanity. We are creatures of choice. That means that we have the capacity to make poor choices, which all of us have done. We have spoken critical words, and we have done hurtful things. We are not proud of those choices, although they may have seemed justified at the moment.
I’m sorry. I know I have hurt you, but I would like to make the future different. I would like to love you in your language. I would like to meet your needs.
Meeting my wife’s need for love is a choice I make each day. If I know her primary love language and choose to speak it, her deepest emotional need will be met and she will feel secure in my love. If she does the same for me, my emotional needs are met and both of us live with a full tank.
…He sincerely did not want to hurt his wife or his children, but at the same time, he felt he deserved a life of happiness. I told him the statistics on second marriages (60 percent ending in divorce). He was surprised to hear that but was certain that he would beat the odds. I told him about the research on the effects of divorce on children, but he was convinced that he would continue to be a good father to his children and that they would get over the trauma of the divorce. I talked to Brent about the issues in this book and explained the difference between the experience of falling in love and the deep emotional need to feel loved. I explained the five love languages and challenged him to give his marriage another chance. All the while, I knew that my intellectual and reasoned approach to marriage compared to the emotional high that he was experiencing was like pitting a BB gun against an automatic weapon.
I reminded him that true, long-lasting emotional love is a choice and that emotional love could be reborn in his marriage if he and his wife learned to love each other in the right love languages. He agreed to marriage counseling; and nine months later, Brent and Becky left my office with a reborn marriage. When I saw Brent three years later, he told me what a wonderful marriage he had and thanked me for helping him at a crucial time in his life.
When an action doesn’t come naturally to you, it is a greater expression of love.
We are talking about love, and love is something you do for someone else, not something you do for yourself. Most of us do many things each day that do not come “naturally” for us.
LOVE MAKES THE DIFFERENCE
Love is not our only emotional need. Psychologists have observed that among our basic needs are the need for security, self-worth, and significance. Love, however, interfaces with all of those.
If I feel loved by my spouse, I can relax, knowing that my lover will do me no ill. I feel secure in his/her presence. I may face many uncertainties in my vocation. I may have enemies in other areas of my life, but with my spouse I feel secure.
My sense of self-worth is fed by the fact that my spouse loves me. After all, if he/she loves me, I must be worth loving. My parents may have given me negative or mixed messages about my worth, but my spouse knows me as an adult and loves me. Her love builds my self- esteem.
The need for significance is the emotional force behind much of our behavior. Life is driven by the desire for success. We want our lives to count for something. We have our own idea of what it means to be significant, and we work hard to reach our goals. Feeling loved by a spouse enhances our sense of significance.
Without love, I may spend a lifetime in search of significance, self-worth, and security. When I experience love, it impacts all of those needs positively. I am now freed to develop my potential. I am more secure in my self-worth and can now turn my efforts outward instead of being obsessed with my own needs. True love always liberates.
In the context of marriage, if we do not feel loved, our differences are magnified. We come to view each other as a threat to our happiness. We fight for self-worth and significance, and marriage becomes a battlefield rather than a haven.
Love is not the answer to everything, but it creates a climate of security in which we can seek answers to those things that bother us. In the security of love, a couple can discuss differences without condemnation. Conflicts can be resolved. Two people who are different can learn to live together in harmony. We discover how to bring out the best in each other. Those are the rewards of love.
The decision to love your spouse holds tremendous potential. Learning his/her primary love language makes that potential a reality. Love really does “make the world go round.”
Can emotional love be reborn in a marriage? You bet.
The key is to learn the primary love language of your spouse and choose to speak it.
Tell your spouse that you have been thinking about your marriage and have decided that you would like to do a better job of meeting his/her needs. Ask for suggestions on how you could improve. His suggestions will be a clue to his primary love language. If he makes no suggestions, guess his love language based on the things he has complained about over the years.
CHILDREN AND LOVE LANGUAGES
If your child is often making presents for you, wrapping them up and giving them to you with a special glee in his or her eye, your child’s primary love language is probably “Receiving Gifts.”
If you observe your son or daughter always trying to help a younger brother or sister, it probably means that his or her primary love language is “Acts of Service.”
If he or she is often telling you how good you look and what a good mother or father you are and what a good job you did, it is an indicator that his or her primary love language is “Words of Affirmation.”
Quality time means giving a child undivided attention. For the small child, it means sitting on the floor and rolling a ball back and forth with him. We are talking about playing with cars or dolls. We are talking about playing in the sandbox and building castles, getting into his world, doing things with him.
Naturally many parents and other adults pick up an infant, hold it, cuddle it, kiss it, squeeze it, and speak silly words to it. Long before the child understands the meaning of the word love, she feels loved. Hugging, kissing, patting, holding hands are all ways of communicating love to a child. The hugging and kissing of a teenager will differ from the hugging and kissing of an infant. Your teenager may not appreciate such behavior in the presence of peers, but that doesn’t mean that he does not want to be touched, especially if it is his primary love language.
My parents don’t love me. They have never loved me. They love my brother, but they don’t love me.” Do the parents, in fact, love that teenager? In the majority of cases, they do. Then what’s the problem? Very likely, the parents never learned how to communicate love in a language the child could understand.
As the child gets older, we tend to condemn him for his failures rather than commend him for his successes.
Some parents try to do for their children what their parents were unable to do for them. They buy things that they wish they had had as a child. But unless that is the primary love language of the child, gifts may mean little emotionally to the child.
If the gifts you give are quickly laid aside, if the child seldom says “thank you,” if the child does not take care of the gifts that you have given, if she does not prize those gifts, chances are “Receiving Gifts” is not her primary love language. If, on the other hand, your child responds to you with much thanksgiving, if she shows others the gift and tells others how wonderful you are for buying the gift, if she takes care of the gift, if she puts it in a place of prominence in her room and keeps it polished, if she plays with it often over an extended period of time, then perhaps “Receiving Gifts” is her primary love language.
Remember, it’s not the quality or cost of the gift; it is the “thought that counts.” Many gifts can be handmade, and sometimes the child appreciates that gift more than an expensive, manufactured gift. In fact, younger children will often play with a box more than the toy that came in it.
If your child is often expressing appreciation for ordinary acts of service, that is a clue that they are emotionally important to him or her. Your acts of service are communicating love in a meaningful way. When you help him with a science project, it means more than a good grade. It means “My parent loves me.” When you fix a bicycle, you do more than get him back on wheels. You send him away with a full tank.
Observe your children. Watch how they express love to others. That is a clue to their love language. Take note of the things they request of you. Many times, their request will be in keeping with their own love language. Notice the things for which they are most appreciative. Those are likely indicators of their primary love language.
When family members start speaking each other’s primary love language, the emotional climate of a family is greatly enhanced.
I know that many couples who have heard this concept at my marriage seminars say that choosing to love and expressing it in the primary love language of their spouse has made a drastic difference in their marriage. When the emotional need for love is met, it creates a climate where the couple can deal with the rest of life in a much more productive manner.
“Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.” That is love’s ultimate expression.
If it were possible, I would hand this book personally to every married couple in this country and say, “I wrote this for you. I hope it changes your life. And if it does, be sure to give it to someone else.