“I give her flowers, I buy her books and jewelry, and yet she complains that I do not love her! What am I doing wrong?” “I am sensitive to my husband’s physical needs and try to please him in bed and yet he wonders if I really love him. What does he want?” The stories and confusion go on and on. Even couples who consciously try to love and please their partners are often thwarted and disappointed to find that they fail repeatedly to meet their partner’s needs. The reason, according to author Gary Chapman, is that each person has a unique language of love, a language that they understand and respond to. If someone speaks to them in a “foreign tongue,” they will not be able to decipher or receive the message. Chapman has written a book on the subject called The Five Love Languages: How to Express Heartfelt Commitment to Your Mate and has a corresponding website.
Often in a marriage conflict or crisis, an overlooked element is that the couple speaks two different love languages. A healthy marriage incorporates the ability to speak the love language of your spouse. Chapman contends that there are five fundamental love languages and that all people speak one or two of these emotional languages. The five love languages are words of affirmation, gifts, physical touch, acts of service and quality time. And within each love language come many dialects or sub-groups. To find out what your language of love is pay attention to which of these five you most readily do for others you love to help them feel loved (or take the quiz on Chapman’s site).
The love languages concept can be transferred to children, friends, and other family members too. Go the extra mile and find out how those you love feel most loved by you. Remember, loving is more about giving them what they want, than about giving them what you want them to have. Find out.