HIS BOOK, The Five Love Languages: How to Express Heartfelt
Commitment to Your Mate, Gary Chapman says what makes one
spouse feel loved might not be what makes the other spouse feel
loved. He calls the different ways to feel loved "love languages."
This is one of the most helpful things I've ever learned about
relationships. The five love languages are:
acts of service
words of affirmation
In the beginning of every relationship,
we pretty much stop thinking about anything but our new sweetheart.
We communicate our affection with all five love languages. With
such a shotgun approach, you hit all the bases, and each of you
But as time goes on, normal life creeps
back in and you don't spend so much time thinking about your
mate. Your expressions of love streamline, and you'll eventually
drop out every expression of love that isn't very valuable (to
you) and what you'll have left is the one love language that
really means something (to you): Your own.
For example, Mort's love language is words
of affirmation but Fifi's is acts of service.
It has probably never occurred to Mort
that people wouldn't appreciate words of affirmation, so his
expression has streamlined to words. When he really wants
Fifi to know he loves her, he tells her. Fifi likes hearing
it, but words alone don't really make her feel loved. The words
are nice, but that's all they are to her: nice. They are "just
Meanwhile Fifi has streamlined her expression
of love to the one that really counts as far as she's concerned:
Acts of service. She goes out of her way to take care
of Mort. She makes sure the house is always clean, his clothes
are always washed and folded with care, the gas tank of the car
is always full, etc. Mort never even notices. What he does
notice is that Fifi hardly ever tells him she loves him.
She hardly ever tells him she believes in him. Her acts of service
fall on deaf ears. He cares very little about how clean the kitchen
is. He never even notices the gas tank.
Here's the ironic thing: Fifi is going
way out of her way to make Mort feel loved, and he goes
around resentful that she never tells him she loves him. Meanwhile,
he tries to express himself until he's blue in the face
to let her know how much she means to him, and all she ends up
doing is complaining about how he never picks up his clothes
and never does the things she asks him to do (she is requesting
acts of service, and if he did them, she would feel loved).
Of course, the thing to do is to find out
what your spouse's love language is, and then learn to express
your affection in that way instead of in the way you
value most. It feels a little awkward at first, as it would to
learn a second language of any kind, but use it enough, and it
starts to feel comfortable.
How do you find out what your mate's love
language is? First, look at how she normally expresses her love
for you. Although it may not be your love language, it is probably
hers, since we usually express our love most often in the way
we think is most meaningful.
You can also listen for what she most often
asks for. If she is always suggesting you go for a trip together,
or go for a walk, or turn off the television and talk, her love
language is probably quality time.
Find out what makes your mate feel loved,
and learn to communicate your affection in that way. And help
your mate learn your language. Do this, and you can probably
live the rest of your lives feeling loved.