I’ve been working with couples for almost 25 years and a big part of my work is to serve as a “translator” for the couple. It often seems that they don’t speak each other’s language.
The issue seems to be much more than the simple “men are from Mars, women are from Venus” idea of the difference between the sexes. I work with many gay and lesbian couples as well, and EVERY couple seems to have a language barrier.
One model that seems to help is that of the idea first described by Dr. Gary Chapman in his book, The 5 Love Languages: The Secret To Love That Lasts. In it, he explains that learning to speak your partner’s “love language” is a huge key to connecting. And I agree that connection (or lack of connection, actually) is the main issue that most couples enter my counseling office to address.
The five Love Languages are: Words of Affirmation, Quality Time, Gift Giving, Acts of Service and Physical Touch.
Words of Affirmation
- For some, words speak louder than actions, reversing the popular truism. In this love language, verbal compliments, words of kindness and encouragement are so very important. AND, when someone affirms us, we are often motivated to reciprocate!
- In this love language, giving someone our full, undivided attention is heavenly! Unplugging from the Internet, cellphone, iPod, etc., demonstrates your love to them. Connecting through words and dialogue or through shared activities communicates love.
- This love language isn’t about materialism, it’s more about the effort and thought behind the gift that expresses love to your partner. Gestures “just because” are as important as honoring birthdays and anniversaries. And the gift of your presence is also important!
Acts of Service
- Actions that make your partner’s life easier and relieve some of their burden fit under this language of love. Washing the car, taking out the garbage, changing a diaper, resetting the computer are all potential acts of service. They communicate love because they require thought, empathy, and effort.
Affectionate touch, hugging, holding hands, caressing and gentle placing of hands are all part of this love language. It includes sexual touch yet is so much more as well. Tenderness as well as physical presence and accessibility can beige comforts in this love language.
From these short descriptions, you can probably determine your primary language of love. And, you can probably assess what your partner’s is as well, though you can always ask!
And while we tend to speak from our primary love language, we may confuse or frustrate our partner when it is not their love language and they don’t quite understand what we are communicating. On the other side, if we want our partner to feel the love we are communicating, we might want to “translate” our message into their primary love language.
As an experiment this week, I encourage you to actively and consciously communicate in your partner’s language of love. And I’d love to hear your results!
Please comment below with your love language and how the experiment goes for you.
Dr. Adam Sheck
If you’re interested in more of my thoughts about relationships and creating passion and purpose, please download my Free Special Reports, “20 Rituals For Romance!” and “The Secret To Owning Your Mission!” by subscribing to the Passion Doctor Newsletter at the top of this page.