People express their love and appreciation in different ways. We don’t all feel or experience love in the same way. But it might just be that the way in which you prefer to express your love does not match the way that the other person is used to experiencing love. We have different love languages. This can frustrate the way in which we communicate our love.
Let’s call these different expressions of love our love languages. We express our love in a specific way, that is crystal clear for anybody speaking that specific language. However, it is possible that we express our love in a language that the other person does not speak. This could get us in a situation where our partner thinks we never express our love, while we ourselves feel like our expressions of love are never fully received.
It is possible I have a dire need for some quality time and eye gazing, and I am frustrated with my partner’s on-going business with all the housekeeping. “Why can’t she just forget about the chores for a minute so that we can sit down together for some time?”. At the same time, my partner might be frustrated with the fact that I don’t seem to appreciate all the chores she is doing out of love for me. Oops!
I am sure you can imagine how two people babbling at each other in different languages is not very connecting.
Just like with natural languages, we don’t speak all languages fluently. In his book The 5 Love Languages, Gary Chapman distinguishes between five love languages
1. Words of affirmation
What do you appreciate about the other? What would encourage them? You could think about compliments: “I love how you always bring this fresh, positive energy into our dates”.
2. Acts of service
Remember the partner who couldn’t stop doing household chores? Yes, these are acts of service.
3. Gift giving
This one is pretty obvious. It’s not about the price of the gift however, but about the intention and attentiveness behind it.
4. Quality time
This is all about the time that you and your loved one spend together. One-on-one. The time that you have all your attention reserved for each other and no-one else.
“Being present is not just putting your phone down for a few minutes. It is a way of being, from interaction to interaction, where you consciously inhabit your own body and show up with the best of your attention, offering your presence as a gift.”Jessica Fern
5. Physical touch
Oh no. I know what you are thinking, pervert. But this one is not about sex. Ok, what am I saying, it is about sex. But it’s not all about sex. It’s about intimate touch, cuddling, a gentle touch on somebody’s shoulder as you walk by, an unexpected and playful slap on the butt, and raw, sweaty, kinky you-me-right-now-on-the-kitchen-table kind of sex. Aww yeah!
In any relationship, there is a kind of love-tank. The tank fills up slowly over time as we make gestures of love to one another. That sweet note on the kitchen table? Three love points! Doing the dishes without being asked? Two points, right there! It’s this tank that makes our relationship feel loving, connected and meaningful. And there is nothing that can change this. Nothing, except some heavy withdrawals on the love tank…
You see, the tank can also drain quickly. This happens when we experience disconnection from our loved ones. Forgot about date-night and made other plans? Minus 50 points! You might intuitively feel that love points are much easier lost than they are collected.
“Real love” – “This 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.”Gary Chapman, The 5 Love Languages
When the tank is empty (or even overdrawn), our relationships feel meaningless and draining. “Our relationship is dead”. “We never talk anymore”. Not only can it take months of work to fill up the tank again, but there might also be leaks that need repairing first.
On the other hand, when our relationship love-tank is filled, the relationship has more capacity to deal with adversity. We are better able to see the good intentions of the other person. The glass is half full.The love tank is all about connection. Connecting with both our brilliant as well as our dark sides. Stay in connection. Continue making an effort to speak each other’s love language and make your love deposits. And you will see that you can stay in love for a lifetime.