I can remember it like it was just yesterday, the day my world got turned upside down...
I had just received my copy of Gary Chapman’s “The 5 Love Languages” in the mail, and suddenly, I got really, really curious as to what my (then) fiancé Rich’s top languages are, and I literally ran over to him to ask him about them.
Before I go further with the story, let me first explain what a love language is.
Our love language(s) is/are the ways that we experience love most deeply...
There are five main love languages, which are:
- Words of Affirmation
- Quality Time
- Receiving Gifts
- Acts of Service
- Physical Touch
Before I finish telling you what happened when I asked my soon-to-be husband about his love languages, let me first give you a bit of background to make the story even more illustrative.
The minute I heard of the 5 Love Languages and what they were, I immediately knew which one was my top love language: Words of Affirmation, which essentially, are kind words like compliments, “I love you” or expressing appreciation through words. After all, I am a writer. I came out of the womb wanting to be a published author. I live and breathe words. I sleep words. I would probably eat words, if they could actually give me physical sustenance and prevent me from starving. When my husband (or anyone else, for that matter) gives me a good compliment, it can light me up and have me beaming for DAYS.
Which hopefully, will explain why I spent the first two years of my relationship with my husband-to-be straining myself to find the “right” words to light him up, the way I would be lit up when he gave me those blessed words. I would tell him he was handsome. I would tell him that he was smart, and the that he was the love of my life. I would even tell him he was my hero, to which I would get a polite (but uninspiring) response. I tried using different words, trying them in different ways, I got more and more creative, thinking “I just haven’t found the right words that will light him up yet.”
Only, it never happened…
Though it seems my husband to be appreciated it when I gave him words of affirmation, it just CLEARLY did not have the same effect on him as they did on me. I never did find the perfect words!
And then, one day in a flash of understanding, I understood why.
Back to he beginning of the story: That day that I received the book in the mail, I ran over to my husband and asked him the 64 thousand dollar question.
After briefly explaining what the 5 Love Languages are and how they function, I asked “Honey, which of these resonates for you most ?”
Without a shred of hesitation he replied, “Quality Time, definitely Quality Time.”
The record had stopped.
“Excuse me?” I said.
He continued: “Yeah, you know when we go for a ride on the beach?”
I struggled to stay with him through a look of utter shock and confusion on my face since an earthquake had just rocked my world. “Yeah” I somehow managed to say.
He continued. “That’s when I feel most loved…you know when you give me all those compliments?
“Yes” I said as I listened in shock and horror.
“That doesn’t really do it for me”.
(earth stops on it’s axis for a second).
Quality Time? Quality Time? That’s how you feel most LOVED? I thought? A BIKE RIDE? YOU DON’T LIKE WORDS OF AFFIRMATION??!!!
A bike ride is not LOVE to me…
A bike ride is exercise. It’s working out. A bike ride is fun, but I never once equated it with feeling loved. In that moment, everything I thought I knew about how to truly love my husband well was shattered in an instant…and therein became an entry point for transformation and learning to love him more deeply. I was never going to win at words of affirmation with my husband – EVER – because that’s just not his love language.
You see, the secret to being more effective in your relationships isn’t just to know your own love language – it’s to understand the other person’s perspective. There is a saying which goes, you don’t truly know another human being until you walk a mile in their shoes. Likewise, in order to truly love someone well, you need to speak their love language to them – not your own. By default we all tend to speak our own top love languages to others, however, being conscious and emotionally intelligent means becoming aware of other people’s love languages and using it with them. I will extend to you today this knowledge: You are not loving someone as deeply as you could be unless you know their top love language and are using it with them.
I’m happy to report that despite my initial shock, my story has a happy ending. Now, when I am being conscious about getting my husband to light up and feel loved, I schedule some Quality Time with him on the weekend. And I spare him the words.
Jennifer Gaynor-Yaker is a best-selling author and California based relationship and dating coach. She also helps singles around the world via Zoom. Learn more about working with Jennifer at JoytopiaCoaching.com