Wednesday, May 27, 2009
Love Languages~A Book Review
Romantic love is something most of us want in our lives. But once we find the person of our dreams we spend a lot of our time trying to figure out why it's not going the way we want it to. I hear variations on the theme all the time that go something like "He's a good father, provider but...I don't think he cares" or "She's a good person but if only she'd...I'd feel more loved" as though something is missing from the other person. What might be missing though, may not be the love but rather the way love is expressed by the other person might not be heard correctly. In other words, they are speaking a foreign language.
I recently received the book The Five Love Languages from a giveaway I entered. Wow, what a wonderful book. It's a quick read and the premise of the book is that we all have certain languages we read and speak that make us feel loved. A certain disconnect occurs however, if people have different love languages and this can cause strife in a relationship because if one person doesn't feel love and the other thinks they are showing love it becomes very frustrating for both people.
I am an idealist in a lot of ways. We should all love each other and get along. But somewhere along the way I also became pragmatic. We're all individuals and if we are to live with another human being as a partner and raise a family with them we have to be committed to making sure it works to the best of our ability. Most people who are in committed partnerships love their partners when they start out and most intend to stay. There are millions of dollars being spent on marriage and couples therapy only to have the marriage or partnership breakdown anyway. Where do these good intentions go? How come so many good people end up no longer able to feel loved by their partners to the extent they separate and start over? Only to find that the second time around the same thing happens. In fact the odds of second marriages ending in divorce are higher than the first one, up to 65%, so something is happening to all these good intentions.
I think this book goes into one of the causes of this. Gary Chapman, the author of the book identifies the 5 love languages as words of affirmation, quality time, receiving gifts, acts of service and physical touch. I read these and know that for me physical touch is at the top followed by quality time. The other three are nice, but they don't particularly make me feel loved. My partner however, I'm sure, would consider acts of service as his number one. I know this by the number of acts of service he does for me. He's always doing something for me. He is very tuned into what I need to feel loved. I would think that physical touch is second for him, which is why he's so affectionate towards me. He's giving me what I needs because he speaks that language. We just got lucky that way.
I'm not so sure I have always been tuned in to him however. Being as acts of service is not really that important to me as a love language, I didn't get that when he is doing all of those things that this is how he says he loves me. Now that I know I try to fulfill that need for him. I make him dinner, I fold a load of laundry and I ask him if he needs me to do something for him. So that he knows. I had to learn this language and put it into practice however.
If you are hearing from your partner "I don't know what you want me to do" then I would read this book. These are the words of a partner that is trying to show love but not able to speak the language you need to hear.
If you are the one saying or thinking that you don't feel loved by your partner although he says he/she loves you, again, this book might be of help.
Romantic love is such a gift. My partner and I have been together 8 years now and I now believe we kind of just lucked out. We happen to know and speak each others languages of love. And we've been willing to learn the ones we didn't speak fluently.
I can imagine any poor ex girlfriend of my husband's who might have the love language of words of affirmation and need to hear them to feel loved. He just doesn't do it well, and since I don't need that, I don't really notice if he doesn't tell me how wonderful I am because it's just not important to me. I always joke that our relationship is a successful one because I tell him daily how wonderful I am and how much he loves me!
If he was buying me presents all the time but never held or touched me I'd be feeling very unloved. I love the presents he gives me but only because I love him, gifts aren't that important to me either. In fact I often pick out things I like and then ask him to buy them for me and he's happy about that.
I read a lot of truth in this book and I highly recommend it. The advice will carry over from romantic relationships to all the relationships in your life. It's been particularly enlightening to see how my children differ in their languages. It has helped me understand what I need to do so they feel loved and often it isn't cooking their meals and washing their clothes.
Don't be afraid to become bilingual. Identifying your partner's love language and learning how to speak it may change your relationship for the better.
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