On holidays or on birthday’s do you find yourself disappointed at the end of the day? Is it from the lack of gifts and cards? Did you only receive verbal “Happy ____”?
For some, receiving gifts, symbols, or signs is what means most to them. Maybe it is materialistic, but each person has their own love language and it is okay if you don’t share the same viewpoint as everyone else.
During my own childhood, and as I grew up, my family showed loved through quality time, words of affirmation and gift-giving. This viewpoint is something I have carried with my throughout my life and my relationships. I have been seeing my boyfriend for almost 2 years, and he and I have struggled in the past with our different love languages. Unlike me, he grew up in a family where he did not always get big gifts on holidays and birthdays, so for him, quality time is most important to show someone you love them. Now we both agree that quality time is important, however, receiving gifts is last on his list, but it is not last on mine.
For those of you unfamiliar with Gary Chapman’s work, there are five love languages:
- Words of affirmation — saying I love you, complimenting or praising your partner
- Quality time – time spent together, even if you’re doing nothing
- Receiving gifts — tokens of appreciation and affection
- Acts of service — doing something for the other person
- Physical touch — hand holding, kissing, sex
As I said previously, my top 3 love languages are Quality Time, Words of Affirmation and Receiving Gifts. I much prefer to do things with my boyfriend, hearing him say or I say “I love you,” and will also occasionally buy him things. He, on the other hand, looks for quality time, acts of service and physical touch. He often looks to spend lots of time together, despite our extremely busy schedules, and tries to do as much as he can for me.
While it is great that we both value quality time, we often have some hard times on special days of celebration figuring out what the other one wants. He may just want to spend time together, but I look at him giving a gift that means something to me as a sign of his feelings for me. At first, we had a hard time getting on the same page, but after realizing we were just operating from different love languages, we realized that we need to communicate better.
So what do you do when you and your partner are speaking different love languages? Communication is the key — and something I struggle with. In fact, I stumbled across a great blog by Mary E. Pritchard, “Communication is the Key: The Art of Self-Expression,” recently about this –and here’s an overview on what she said about communicating with your partner:
- Figure out which language you speak and which language your partner speaks. Gary Chapman’s book and website offer quizzes to help you figure it out if you don’t already know.
- Start showing your partner love in a way they understand. As my man is a ‘words of affirmation’ and ‘physical touch’ kind of guy, I need to get better at giving him what he needs in those two areas.
- Communicate your needs to your partner — as much as we think our partner should know us well enough to figure out what we want, they don’t. Your partner is not a mind reader — trust me on this one, it took me two decades to figure this out! You have to be specific about what you need to feel loved. But do so without denigrating your partner’s love language or making him or her feel bad. So instead of saying, “You don’t love me the way I want to be loved!” you could say something like, “I love that you are so expressive with your love for me. I like to show my love for you by doing little things for you, like making you your favorite dinner. (Fill in the blank with how you show love — again your partner is not a mind reader. Walk them over the bridge here.) What I really would like more of is to just spend time with you — not doing anything in particular, just enjoying each other’s company. (Again fill in the blank with what you need.) Do you think we might be able to spend an evening together this coming week because I that would really make me feel loved?”
- Rinse and repeat — I wish I could wave my magic wand and fix all of your relationship communication problems overnight, but this takes practice. When you find yourself wishing your partner had done or said something different, redo this exercise. He or she was likely operating out of their love language and forgot that you don’t speak the same language they do all the time. Truth be told, if that’s the case, you might want to examine your own behaviors as well. Have you been communicating with them in their love language lately or have you fallen back into your own?
If you feel like you need more help with your relationship, give us a call at Life Skills Resource Group Orlando at 407-355-7378 to set up a free phone consultation. Our Orlando Couples Counselors and Orlando Marriage Counselors Cindy Fabico, Risa Bos, and Kelli Skorman are here to help you and your partner. Want to focus on yourself first within the relationship? Our Orlando Individual Counselors, Amy Smith and Jessica Carmean, are here to help figure out where you stand in your relationship.