Gary Chapman, the author of the self-help book The 5 languages of love, recognised that couples rarely share the same love language.
Ignoring your partner's love languages (see my previous blog for a description of the 5 love languages) is like ignoring the needs of a plant: If we don't give it enough light, water or food, it will die a slow death.
When you're trying to figure out your primary love language, it helps to look back over your relationship and ask, "What have I most often requested of my partner?" Whatever you have most requested is probably in keeping with your primary love language. Those requests may have been seen by your partner as nagging but in fact, they have been your efforts to secure emotional love from your partner.
Examine what you do or say to express love to your partner and chances are what you are doing for him or her is what you wish they would do for you. If words of affirmation feels loving to you, chances are you will use them in speaking love to your partner. You may discover your own language by asking, "How do I consciously express my love to my partner?"
In the beginning of relationships the "in-love" experience is on the level of instinct. It simply happens in the normal context of male-female relationships. It can be fostered or quenched, but it does not arise by conscious choice. It is short-lived (usually two years or less) and seems to serve for humankind the same function as the mating call of the stag. In fact, not very romantic.
The "in-love" experience temporarily meets one's emotional need for love. It gives us the feeling that someone cares, that someone admires us and appreciates us. Our emotions soar with the thought that another person sees us as important, that he or she is willing to devote time and energy exclusively to our relationship. For a brief period, however long it lasts, our emotional need for love is met.
In time, however, we come down from that natural high back to reality. If our partner has learned to speak our primary love language, our need for love will continue to be satisfied. If, on the other hand, he or she does not speak our love language, our tank will slowly drain, and we will no longer feel loved. The relationship will have reached the second stage where conflict dominates. At this stage both partners are unconsciously seeking to return to the love felt at the initial “in-love” stage. Conflict and blame for lack of love predominates at this stage. Sadly, many relationships remain stuck at this stage or the relationship ends. Neither of these options are necessary.
So how can we learn to speak each other's love language when we are full of hurt, anger and resentment over past failures?
Love may not change the past, but it can make the future different. When we choose to express love in the primary love language of our partner, we create an emotional climate where we can deal with our past conflicts and failures.
Meeting that need in one's partner is definitely a choice. If you learn the emotional love language of your partner and express it frequently, he or she will continue to feel loved and secure in their relationship with you.
If he or she does the same for you, then emotional needs for both of you are met and both of empty tanks can begin to fill up. Two full love tanks helps the relationship travel through stages of stability, commitment and blissful co-creation, eventually returning to feelings of “in love” but without the insecurity.
"What if the love language of your partner is something that doesn't come naturally for you?"
When an action doesn't come naturally to you, it is a greater expression of love. We discover the primary love language of our partners, and we choose to speak it whether or not it is natural for us.
Love is a choice. And either partner can start the process today.
If you want to feel more loved start by identifying your partner’s primary love language and give your partner a valentines day gift based on their primary love language.