In a recent article, I mentioned Gary Chapman’s research as detailed in his internationally renowned best seller, ‘The Five Love Languages: How to Express Heartfelt Commitment to Your Mate’, and the importance of using the appropriate love language if you want your expressions of love and commitment to be heard by your partner. That there are five unique love languages and that if we don’t use the love language that is unique to our partner than our heartfelt messages of love and commitment fall on deaf ears.
So if we don’t take the time to learn and use our partner’s unique love language then over time we risk that person feeling unloved, potentially seeking love elsewhere.
That sounds easy but is it? All too often I hear one or both partners say that they know the love language of their loved one but all too often I also hear them say that they keep forgetting, and find using or remembering to use their partner’s love isn’t easy. By default they fall into expressing their love and affection using their own unique love language.
Of course not. If you were to embark on mastering a new language, quite different in every aspect from your native tongue and one that you were not familiar with or had never considered learning before, would you imagine that it was enough to know that the language had different sounds and expressions if you were to master it. Of course not.
Then why would being aware or knowing your partner’s love language, be sufficient for you to master it and use it proficiently? If it’s not your native love language, to master your partner’s, become fluent in it and use it as a natural expression of your love and commitment to you partner means you have to practice it. And if you think about it, if you were learning a new language, foreign to your native tongue how many hours or weeks would it take you to become proficient in that language?
It’s no different – learning a different language of love takes practice. To master your partner’s love language and have that as your natural default when you express your messages of love means that you need to commit to practicing the art, every single day – until it become second nature to you. The only exception to this is if you happen to share the same unique love language – and the chances of that are quite rare.
So what do I suggest?
Become an eager, love language student and practice your art every, single day – become masterful in learning your partner’s love language. Depending on the love language in question 15 minutes per day or a minimum of 5 contact points each day. Now that has to be fun!
So what might that look like? – I’m going to give you some ideas, as a starter then I’m sure you’ll get the idea and have many more of your own.
And just as a means of revision, let’s revisit what the five languages of love are.
The Five Languages of Love
In Chapman’s words the five languages of love are Words of Affirmation, Physical Touch, Quality Time, Gifts and Acts of Service.
So let’s look at each of these and consider ways that you could put each into practice so that you become masterful and fluent in your partner’s love language.
Words of Affirmation
If this is your partner’s love language, then unsolicited compliments are the key to your expressions of love and commitment being heard.
Saying ‘I love you’ is important—but hearing the reasons behind that love is even more powerful
Consider surprising your loved one with text messages of why you love and adore him or her. Put well thought out notes in lunch boxes or pockets of their clothes. Spend a few minutes each night or each morning expressing your delight in their presence or the things you love about them and how they lighten up your day. Compliment them on the things they do. Sincerity and authenticity are key. Catch yourself doing this frequently until it becomes a natural thing for you to do.
And at all costs avoid negative words or insults, as these can be shattering and are not easily forgotten.
This language is all about physical presence and accessibility – which doesn’t mean being touchy but rather a caress of the knee, a small pat on the back as you share a coffee, a hug before you leave for work. A great way to practice if this is your partner’s love language is to give them a foot or face massage. Learn to touch them as they pass by or as you watch TV together become conscious of your physical presence in relation to theirs and ensure a closeness. Practice 20 secs hugs on a frequent basis, and find ways to be physically close in your daily exchanges.
Physical touch is not about the bedroom. If this is your partner’s love language not being present for your partner feels neglectful and is often interpreted as being unloving and uncaring.
If this is your partner’s love language then nothing says, ‘I love you’, more than full, undivided attention, that is really being there—so consider ways to have quality time together with no other distractions. This makes your loved one feel truly special. So consider spending time together with no TV, sitting chatting, going for a walk, time together over a glass of wine or doing something special together.
If this is your partner’s love language, postponed dates, turning up late, distractions and not listening are extremely hurtful.
If your partner’s love language is gifts be careful not to interpret this love language as being materialistic.
Underlying this love language for your partner is the thoughtfulness and effort behind the gift. The perfect gift or gesture expresses that sentiment. So thoughtful gestures, such as a handwritten note, handmade gifts, a specially chosen greeting card or a special books are prized messages of love.
Think of small gifts or gestures that you give and incorporate these gestures into your daily life together.
Missed birthdays, anniversaries or hasty, thoughtless gifts are best avoided if this is your partner’s love language.
Acts of Service
If your partner’s love language is Acts of Service then anything you do to ease their burden of responsibilities is received as an expression of love by your partner. The words that most convey this expression of love are ‘Let me do that for you’. So think about your partner and each day think of what you can do to lessen their load, and in doing so show your love for them.
Laziness, broken commitments and increasing their work load signals to speakers of this language that their feelings don’t matter.
When you know your partner’s love language – spend 10- 15 minutes per day practicing it – getting proficient- and encourage your partner to practice yours. And know that it’s OK to ask your partner what delights them most.
Like learning anything new, practice makes perfect and in learning a new language the more often you use it the more proficiently you speak it and isn’t that want we all want to feel loved and connected every single day? So go ahead and get practicing…
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