‘It’s easy to express our love in the same way we want it to be shown to us, but when we do that we risk our partner not feeling loved. Take time to discover each other’s love language today … it can revolutionise your relationship.’
Extract taken from If You Forget Everything Else, Remember This: Tips and Reminders for a Happy Marriage
By Katharine Hill
Published by Muddy Pearl
Five Ways to Say, ‘I Love You’
In his book The 5 Love Languages, psychologist Gary Chapman writes about his theory that just as we have a native or first language, we also have a primary ‘love’ language – the way we most naturally communicate and understand love. When we learnt about this, my husband Richard and I discovered that, like many couples, our love languages are very different. So despite our best intentions, we hadn’t been communicating our love in a way we both understood. My affectionate notes meant little to him, and I didn’t notice when he’d spent hours demonstrating his love for me by cleaning the kitchen!
The good news is that learning our partner’s love language has the potential to transform our relationship. So what are the five love languages?
Words of affirmation
If words are important to us, encouragement from our partner can have an incredibly positively impact on our marriage. I love it that Richard often says kind and encouraging things to and about me. But not always …
On my birthday my friends gave me a card in which they’d written a list of wonderful things about me. Admittedly, it was over the top, but it made me feel incredible. Then Richard leaned over to read it. ‘Guys, it’s only Katharine!’, he said. He meant it as a joke, but my balloon burst immediately. At home later we sorted it out (ha!), but it was a valuable lesson about the power of words to build up … or to tear down. If our partner’s love language is words, we’ll need to take extra care with what we may think are funny comments about cooking, driving, dress size, etc. They will feel them deeply. Be imaginative about showing them your love: send them by text, put a note on the dashboard, say them – ‘You look great tonight’, ‘Your lasagne is the best’, ‘I’m proud of you’, ‘I love you …’
When Carol and Duncan bought a new house, Duncan set about redecorating it completely. Weekends and evenings passed in a blur as he worked to get everything finished. The problem was that Carol’s love language was ‘time’ and she became distant. She was grateful for Duncan’s hard work, but they hadn’t had any quality time together for months and she ended up feeling unloved.
If our partner’s primary love language is quality time, they’ll feel loved simply when we spend time with them. Going for a walk or chatting round the kitchen table – the activity itself is incidental. What matters is finding time when you can simply be together.
Acts of service
One of Richard’s main ways of feeling loved is acts of service. So when I do something practical for him like sorting out the washing, it says to him: ‘I love you.’ If our partner’s primary love language is acts of service, here’s a word of warning: if we forget to do something they’ve asked us to do it will have an especially negative impact on them.
Showing love in practical ways is not about being a doormat; it’s about spotting things we know our partner would love us to do. For them, actions really do speak louder than words.
Gifts can communicate love strongly on an emotional level – it’s my other love language. The first Christmas after we married, I carefully planned what present to give Richard and wrapped it beautifully. I felt so disappointed when he ripped the paper off, said a quick thank you, and put it to one side. It wasn’t that he didn’t like the gift – it simply didn’t carry the same significance for him as it did for me.
This love language is about the thought behind the gift rather than how expensive it is. So forgetting their birthday or an anniversary will be especially disappointing for our partner. Whether it’s a magazine or a packet of wine gums, giving a present of some kind – and not just on special occasions – speaks volumes to a partner whose love language is gifts.
For some people, touch communicates love more powerfully than words. The love language of touch covers everything from a hand on the knee, a kiss, a hug, through to sexual foreplay and making love. When withheld, it can communicate rejection, so if this is our partner’s love language it will be important to find opportunities to express love in this way – not just as a prelude to making love. For them, a touch makes all the difference.
It’s easy to express our love in the same way we want it to be shown to us, but when we do that we risk our partner not feeling loved. Take time to discover each other’s love language today … it can revolutionise your relationship.
If You Forget Everything Else, Remember This: Tips and Reminders for a Happy Marriage by Katharine Hill is published by Muddy Pearl, priced £9.99