Recipe for a Light-Hearted Relationship: Part 2 – Love Languages (Episode 220)
In this new series, my husband Nathan and I are digging into what really creates the recipe for a light-hearted and loving relationship, where we both feel mutually loved and supported.
Last week we explored what sets us off - those triggers that jar us out of our nice intentions and result in us spiraling into reaction-mode, and not always bringing out our best self.
This week, we want to look at how we truly love one another. The concept of love languages was developed by Gary Chapman, Ph.D., in his book The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love That Lasts, where he describes these five unique styles of communicating love, gathered from his years in linguistics and marriage counseling.
It's not just about identifying your "love language" -
it's recognizing every one of them is in our vocabulary - what is helpful to bring forth in this situation?
The Five Love Languages
Just like personality styles, I think love languages are something that aren't to be boxed in as an excuse for who you are. It's yet another tool for self-awareness. So as we go into these five love languages, know that this is simply the tip of the iceberg on the ways we love one another. It's not about finding the "right" one or doing it a certain way - it's a tool to then explore how it best connects you to another human being.
As you read through these, pay attention to how you've experienced love in ALL of these - how you've received it well, and how you have given it to others. And, as I address at the end of the podcast episode related to this post, keep in mind the ceremony around it all.
#1 - Words of Affirmation
Some people are natural encouragers. They tend to be quick to give a compliment, encouragement or support. They love to interact with others, and, well, people like to talk about themselves! They open the door to more engagement by affirming those they talk to.
For some people, they are naturally affirming in the way they tend to speak to others. Sometimes, it's not so natural, and it can be a big deal. Keep in mind the ceremony around it. Who are you talking to, and how do they really resonate with affirmation? I know my oldest daughter takes to heart when I compliment her art or show appreciation for something about her character. Yet I also know that me giving her that affirmation just 1-1 in the privacy of her room is way more valuable than me putting her on stage to announce her praises to the world. That would be my middle daughter!
It feels good to be affirmed, complimented, validated and encouraged. There are many ways to do this - through the intimacy of a private conversation or singing it from the rooftops, this really depends on who you are talking to and how they will best receive it.
#2 - Physical Touch
Note that this isn't just about intimate sexual touch. This is physical touch in general. It's the way we reach out and physically connect with another person - do we hold hands, put our arm over their shoulder, hug? How do our loved ones respond to our touch? Do you know how to touch them in a way they receive well?
I have one daughter that would gladly be carried by me and in my lap all day - she loves the physical touch of simply being in close proximity to me all the time. I have another daughter who would be thrilled to keep the six-foot social distancing rule for everyone in her life - she's just not touchy-feely at all.
I still reach out and touch. Yet I touch in different ways. Keep in mind that it's not just our physical touch with others. It's our connection with ourselves as well. Our own body language is so, so powerful. There have been a number of studies on the complex topic of nonverbal communication with varying results. However, most experts agree that 70 to 93 percent of all communication is nonverbal.
What is your nonverbal communication saying about your openness and vulnerability - two things that can be essential to positive touch?
For one daughter, me pulling her into my lap is a great "love connection" moment. For another, respecting her space, asking permission before I touch her, and being open in my own personal body language with not shutting her out are ways I can "touch" in love while not requiring her to be touchy-feely.
And, the more I've grown, the more I realize that I, too, am not as touchy-feely as I used to be. The love language of touch as a major connector is different in my relationship with Nathan than what it is with others. And that's a-okay. I am way more receptive to touch as a love language from Nathan.
We all respond to touch. The jarring studies in Romanian orphanages really highlighted the extremes of touch deprivation. We need touch and human connection in order to thrive. Yet touch can be in a multitude of ways, and is always with respect and consent. Keep in mind your own non-verbal cues and how you are connecting with yourself are just as important.
#3 - Gift-Giving
It's not truly about the actual gift. It's the intention behind the gift. The key in gift-giving as a love language isn't so much about a tangible item as it is thoughtfulness. Again, remember ceremony here. The way you give is part of the gift for some people. My brother does a lot when it comes to presentation - how you present it is a part of the process. And I've highly valued the well thought out presents he's given. My husband Nathan, however, would be the complete opposite with ceremony, and is way more likely to just buy something on impulse when he sees it and giving it straight from a bag - no ceremony at all, just a "hey, I thought of you when I saw this."
I recognize both of these men in my life as showing love through giving gifts at certain points, yet the ceremony around it was very different. Pay attention to how you give, and what the ultimate motive is.
When you are using gift-giving as a love language,
it's not about the actual gift as much as it's the
intention and thoughtfulness behind it.
Gift-giving as a love language is not just throwing a present at someone out of obligation; it's carrying the thought of a person in your mind as you create or seek out something that represents an element of what you love about them - to bring them joy, etc.
#4 - Quality Time
Quality time isn't always about quantity. It's the age-old debate on how much versus what the quality of the time is. Me recognizing that quality time can be an intentional two minutes was a game changer in my ability to honor this in others!
What does quality time look like for you? Is it sitting and looking at each other and talking face-to-face? Is it working on a project together, or sitting quietly side by side reading your own books?
Communicate what quality time really looks like for you and for your partner. What do you appreciate as quality time? Does your partner know and recognize that? It doesn't have to be a fully committed day of devotion. It can be a simple few minutes of truly present connection.
#5 - Acts of Service
This isn't to become a martyr. This isn't to serve to the point of your own detriment. These are those acts of service that show the other person you are aware of them and are looking to serve in some way. It may be doing the laundry, making a cup of coffee, or giving a massage. It may be taking on a task your partner doesn't want to do, or literally serving them a meal or in another way caring for them.
How can you best be a support to your partner? If you don't know, ask them!
Your Weekly Challenge:
It's not that there is a certain way to express love that is correct, or that there is just one language your partner can understand.
Are you there for your partner by showing an authentic desire to love someone beyond yourself? What does that look like? In what ways are you showing it?
Maybe it's time for this conversation - for the first time, or as a refresher.
Pay attention to how your family is showing love already. Are there things you can notice with a new awareness now? Gary Chapman also says “I am amazed by how many individuals mess up every new day with yesterday.” Have today be your clean slate to a loving relationship. What is one thing you can do - in all of these areas of love - to bring deeper connection in your most intimate relationship? What is something you can do today to reinforce your love and commitment to your partner? Don't box love into only one way to connect. Paint with all the colors of your rainbow, and show love in the way that best reflects their light!
We all flex different areas of who we are at different times of our lives - and we'll show love and express ourselves in new ways as we grow. It's all a part of us, and it's knowing how to flex and what works to bring out the best in us. And that reinforces how the uniqueness in each of us strengthens all of us. Namaste
- What Is A DISC Personality Assessment?
- How We Eased Into A Life We Don’t Escape From (Episode 201)
- Which is More Important - Skillset or Mindset? (Episode 218)
- Self-Love, or Self-Sabotage? (Episode 152)
- Ashley Logsdon, Relationship Coach
- What is your goal? Or maybe that is the wrong question to be asking
- Simplify Childhood: Quickies Aren't Just In the Bedroom (Episode 216)
- Personality Styles
- Personality Test For Kids
- Make Me Feel Important – The High D Style
- Precocious People Person At Your Service: The High I Style
- Never Confuse Kindness for Weakness – The High S Style
- Dot Your i’s and cross your t’s – The High C Personality Style
Questions or comments?
Personality styles, marriage/intimacy, parenting, education, minimalism or travel - what is pressing on your mind?
Or, hop on over to the Unschooling Families FB group and ask your question there!