How Can I Make My Marriage Last? Part Four

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How Can I Make My Marriage Last?  Part Four

Are you sitting down? Because I have something crazy to tell you. Your spouse probably speaks a different language than you do. No, I’m not talking about that Spanish class you took freshman year, and I’m certainly not talking about English. (Although some of you might swear your spouse doesn’t understand English sometimes…) I’m talking about their LOVE language.
Love language? What on Earth do you mean by that?
In the world of emotional attachment, love languages refer to the different means of giving and receiving affection; the various ways by which we let our partners know that they matter to us. When we are speaking our partner’s love language they are much more likely to receive our tokens of affection and feel more connected and secure with us. The problem, however, is that we are oftentimes speaking a totally different language than the one our partner is accustomed to hearing. It’s natural to try to give love in the way we enjoy receiving it, but that is often different than the way our partner naturally receives it. Sadly this means that many of our gestures of love may go unreceived, unacknowledged, or misunderstood. Sometimes we just aren’t speaking their language.
For example, have you ever searched for what seemed like days on end to find that perfect gift for your spouse, only to have have it received with about the same fanfare as a lead balloon? Or have you spent a weekend washing your spouse’s car, making a trip to the grocery store, and cleaning up the entire house only to have these things go unnoticed? If so, your relationship might be in need of a love language decoder ring.
Ooooooh, I really need one of those. Where can I get one?
Glad you asked! We’ll get to that in a minute. First you need to know a little bit about the different languages. According to Gary Chapman’s award winning book The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love That Lasts, there are (wait for it……) five distinct “love languages” that we humans tend to speak. Dr. Chapman claims that these five languages are an exhaustive list of all love languages worldwide, and that they cross all cultural and ethnic boundaries. Even if this list isn’t exhaustive, it absolutely provides a great starting point for us to figure out how to communicate love in the ways our significant other receives it. Which, to me, is the point. so without further adieu, here are the five love languages:
Mark Twain has been quoted as saying, “I can live for two months on a good compliment.” If true, he certainly spoke the love language called “words of affirmation.” Everyone likes a good compliment, but being verbally built-up is especially important for speakers of this particular language. For these folks, encouraging words are like air. Not only do they thrive on them, but they need them. Showing love to these people might look like telling them how nice they look in that new dress, or telling them thank you for helping with the kids. It might also look like making positive comments about them in front of friends and family members. Using kind words is crucial when you are in a relationship with someone of this dialect. There is tremendous power in the tongue, and it’s possible to unlock incredible potential in someone simply by speaking a kind word to them. Alternatively, it can be terribly damaging to them when they are put down or criticized. Use a soft start-up to initiate difficult conversations with those who speak this dialect.
When you and your mate first met, I’d bet that spending time together was pretty high on your priority list. People who speak this particular love language continue to gain a heightened sense of connection when you are able to spend undivided, focused time with each other. Sometimes this connection will involve tandem activities like sports or board-games, but most often it hinges upon quality conversation.
So what makes quality conversation any different than regular conversation? Quality conversation is not simply a description of the day’s events as if you were watching the news or reading an article. Quality conversation involves sympathetic dialogue where both individuals share their experiences, thoughts, feelings and desires. Learning how to listen without interrupting or giving advice can be absolutely euphoric for a quality timer! If your spouse craves quality time, be sure to regularly turn off the TV and other distractions and make time to focus on each other.
For all of recorded history gifts have served as symbols of love. In fact, marriage has traditionally involved the giving of gifts (such as rings) to solidify the relationship. Giving gifts, especially to mark special occasions or anniversaries, usually means a great deal to speakers of this particular love language. Gifts don’t necessarily have to be expensive; sometimes they will be simple tokens to let your spouse know you’re thinking about them. This may involve the giving of a card, or bringing back their favorite candy from the store. Gifts might also include the
gift of your presence at various events or special occasions.
Other times gifts may be more costly. If you are a “saver” who is married to a gifts person, you may even have to shift your view of money a little. For example, train yourself to see that saving or investing money can be considered “buying” a sense of security for yourself. It is important to acknowledge this fact and find an appropriate way to balance your financial needs with an attitude of generosity toward your mate. Learning to speak your partner’s language might just be the best investment you can make for the future of your relationship.
Serving others is a concept that has long been associated with love. Finding various ways to serve your mate can send this message loud and clear, especially when they speak this particular dialect. An act of service may look like paying bills or making dinner. It might even be as simple as bringing them the remote or driving the car during family vacations. The key to loving an “acts of service” person is to find out which actions mean the most to them and start with those. When you can find everyday ways to serve these individuals, you can consistently fill their love bank through routine service projects. Make these actions a priority and your loved one will likely feel very connected and secure.
From the very beginning of life we know that physical touch is crucial for developing secure attachments between parent and child. For many adults touch continues to be a key component in their level of attachment to their significant other. Loving touches come in a variety of forms, both sexual and non-sexual. For some individuals, holding their partner’s hand during a movie or sitting next to one another while watching a sit-com can be a powerful bonding experience. For others, a simple hello-hug or touch when you walk through the room can be a quick and easy way to communicate your love. And, of course, learning to give a good back rub can serve as powerful foreplay. Just as with acts of service, however, finding out what kinds of touch your partner likes is critical. Touch can have the opposite effect if it is uncomfortable or unwanted (poking, tickling, etc.), so learn to speak your partner’s dialect instead of insisting on your way of touching. It may go without saying, but violent touch such as a slap in the face can be detrimental in any relationship, especially when your mate’s love language is physical touch.
OK, now I get what you’re saying. I need to find out which language my partner speaks so I can start speaking in their dialect.
Yes, exactly.
So where do I find that love language decoder ring you were talking about?
Ahhh, yes! If you want to find out which language(s) you and your spouse speak, Dr. Chapman has an online inventory that only takes about 5-10 minutes to complete. Just go to and start answering the questions. When you’ve finished you can even get your results emailed if you want.
If you missed any of the previous blogs in this series, you can start at part one HERE. We’ve got more to come, so stay tuned!
–from Matt Thames

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