Learning to Speak Your Partner's Love Language
Learning to Speak Your Partner's Love Language
Time does fly when you're having fun. It's been almost 7 months since Justin and I got married, and I wanted to do a personal blog post about life after the wedding. Ever since I got married, the most commonly asked question I've received is "How's married life?" followed by the unavoidable "Are you going to have kids yet?".
It's easy for me to answer the first question. Married life has been everything I've wanted so far. That's because I've consciously been working on making it how I want it to be. As for the second question, well... that's an answer for another time.
I am very grateful for being able to do life with Justin, and I know I couldn't ask for a better life partner than him. I know that marriage, or being in a long-term committed relationship, is hard work. I used to find it hard to understand that concept. Like, shouldn't it be easy to have a great marriage if you love your partner? But now, I totally get it. Just like anything in life that you want to be the best at, you have to work on it everyday to keep on improving. Things can only get better, and when you think things are already amazing, you can always make it better.
There's so much excitement that builds up around the wedding when a couple gets engaged that sometimes it can be easy to forget that it's not just happily ever after once you get married. While it would be nice if adorable little birds could wake me up by singing to me every morning and then gracefully make my bed after I got up, the idea of happily ever after just does not exist. And if you think it does, well you're in for a rude awakening. #REALTALK.
Life is unpredictable and constantly changing. I know that just because everything in my life may seem perfectly balanced and in control in one moment, that it doesn't mean it always will be. When two people in a relationship are going through life, there are bound to be differences in opinions and there will be individual highs and lows where one person may struggle and one person may be soaring at the same time. There are bound to be bad days as often as there are good days, and there will also be ugly days just like there are amazing days.
It is really important to me to continuously bring my best version of myself to my marriage, no matter what the circumstances. What's more important than that is to also ensure that my intentions are manifested into action in a way that my partner can understand clearly. What I'm talking about is learning to speak your partner's love language.
I started reading the famous book by Dr. Gary Chapman called The 5 Love Languages. This book had been highly recommended to me by a lot of people, and I've heard great things about it through friends as well. I saw it at a bookstore one day and decided to just get it and dive right in. I haven't even fully finished reading it yet, and I've already learned so much about this topic and am excited to share what I've learned with you. I wish I would have read this book sooner!
Basically, Dr. Chapman explains how there are 5 languages to communicate and express emotional love to your partner:
1) Words of Affirmation
2) Quality Time
3) Receiving Gifts
4) Acts of Service
5) Physical Touch
In the book, Dr. Chapman also describes how every person on earth has a "love tank". People in healthy, loving marriages/relationships operate with a full love tank, while people in toxic, abusive marriages/relationships run low on love with an empty tank. Being able to understand and "speak" your partner's love language is the way to help keep their love tanks full. These languages are each distinct, and failing to fully comprehend your partner's primary love language will hinder the growth of your relationship. For example, even if you surprised your husband with gifts all the time out of love and care, but receiving gifts wasn't his primary love language, then it's like a person talking in French to someone who only understands Japanese. Dr. Chapman also explains how the "in love" phase only typically lasts for two years. Now you can see how the best intentions can get lost in translation which may lead marriages/relationships down a road of emotional and physical disconnection fast once the highs of falling in love fades and the reality of life sets in.
Everybody has their own love language, and although it is possible, it's rare that two people in a marriage/relationship share the same love language. If you do, that is very lucky because the way you like to be shown love would be exactly how you would show your partner love.
From reading this book, I learned that Justin and I have different love languages. Mine is quality time, while his is acts of service. It's obvious to me that acts of service is Justin's primary love language, because ever since we were dating he would always drive me from place to place, pick me up after work, patiently wait in the car even if I was running late, and help me with anything I needed. It took me a while to put two and two together that boring tasks like taking out the garbage, keeping the kitchen tidy and doing the laundry could have such a big pay-off in my husband's bank of love. For me on the other hand, whether or not the garbage is full or empty has no impact on how loved I feel. You could pay me $100 to walk outside and throw the garbage out, and I still wouldn't feel motivated to do it. And even if I did, I probably would be complaining the entire time. But, if that's what it takes to show my husband that I love him, I'll do it every damn day because the effort is worth it.
In terms of my primary love language, it was a bit confusing to me at first to narrow down just one because all of them seemed equal to me. Of course, receiving gifts, words of affirmation and physical touch are all important to me too, and who wouldn't like those things? It can be hard to distinguish your love language at first, but what helped me was how Dr. Chapman explains it: if your partner failed to communicate to you in your primary love language and still used the other ones, ask yourself if you would still feel loved. If you wouldn't feel loved despite being spoken to in other love languages, then you know that's your primary love language. I was able to determine that mine was quality time because I feel most loved and cared for when Justin spends his undivided attention and time with me doing simple things like going on a walk, cooking dinner together or watching a movie together.
While this book is focusing on marriages, I think the lessons and tools in this material can be easily applied to other relationships in your life such as family, friends and colleagues from a communications perspective. There are so many more nuggets of wisdom in this book, and I highly recommend it to anyone that wants to continue to build and grow their marriage and the relationships in their lives.