The Languages of Love 4/6/20

Thoughts by Richard Bleil

Gary Chapman launched an empire when he published “Five Love Languages”. While I would like to provide my thoughts on this concept in this blog, let me start by suggesting that if you are interested in this topic you should look for his book. Or website. Or sequel books. And I’m guessing there is more.

The basic idea behind these five languages is that there are five basic ways that a person will show their love for another, and everybody has their one primary language. Frankly, as I look at these five it seems as if a healthy love would include all five. I can’t imagine a relationship where one or more is not a strong aspect of it, but one’s partner has a different primary love language there can be problems that arise. From their aspect, you are more likely to miss their gestures of affection, and from your perspective you might be left wondering why your partner isn’t showing the affection that you are looking for. I’m not really sure what the goal of this blog is. Maybe it’s to help you understand yourself better, or maybe it’s to help you understand your partner. Maybe it’s to help my readers strengthen their own relationships, or maybe it’s an unpaid ad for Gary.

Maybe I’m just trying to sort out my own thoughts.

One language is emotional support. One way to show this is vocally, thanking your partner for what they do, probably most of all for the little thing like daily chores. There is a danger here where too much affirmation of appreciation can be taken as insincere. I know that I frequently use “please” and “thank you” and frequently fear that people will assume it’s out of habit, but I can tell you that, at least from my perspective, I mean it every single time. Too often these words are thrown out in a negative tone, though, which is certainly not the affirmation of love of which I am referring. “Thank you for dinner” is a far cry from “I was really hungry”. In a relationship I personally try to verbalize my gratitude and support often enough that my partner will never doubt my appreciation, respect, admiration and availability to her.

Touch is another. Touch releases endorphins which are critical for mental balance and happiness. A happy and compatible sexual life is part of this, but it’s so much more. I love snuggling. When I was married, in the evening my wife and I would share an easy chair that was, frankly, too small for two people, and I absolutely loved it. I also couldn’t help, just a few months ago, but to snap a picture of an elderly couple walking along the campus while holding hands. I adored it and told them as much. In a relationship, I love holding hands, putting my arm around her while watching movies, cuddling together, hugging and a plethora of other forms of physical contact. Can there be anything better than feeling the warmth of the person you love?

Quality time is important. This is a little bit different from forced time, as many people are experiencing in this time of quarantine. If a family friend is getting married, attending the service together doesn’t necessarily count as quality time, but on the other hand, it can. Sitting together in the pews may not mean much but holding hands in the pews turns this simple time around. The reception can yield isolation despite the social aspect, but dancing with your partner turns that around. Some of my favorite friends are the ones where they still have “date night”. This is quality time. Personally, I love doing just about anything with that one special person in my life. I frequently would ask her out on dates regardless of how long we’d been together.

Acts of service count. Division of labor is a part of this, but it’s often easy to overlook such routine acts. This is not necessarily a good thing as we should always appreciate the efforts of our partners, but it’s human nature to expect the garbage to be taken out and the meals to be prepared. But when your partner had a difficult day, taking over their chores is such a marvelous way to express love. If one partner asks for help with daily chores though, ignoring these requests, for any reason, certainly is counter to the goal. Sometimes two people’s clocks are just not in sync but ignoring such requests should be rare. I love making special dinners for my partner, giving massages, doing the dishes, just about anything to make her life easier. The way I see it, working on these tasks with her makes us both available for quality time sooner.

Finally let’s look at gifts. Some people like nice expensive shiny things, but I think the goal of gifts is not necessarily to give something of value or to spend a lot of money. Personally, I’ve never been a fan of giving gifts only on the major holidays. I would give gifts just to let my partner know that I was thinking about her that day. It might be a piece of jewelry that I think she would really like, or it might just be a little plastic toy. Either way, it’s just a way of saying “you were on my mind.” I probably go overboard on this, I must admit. But I’ve always felt like my partner, when I had one, was worth it. I like letting her know that I carry thoughts with her every day.

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