In a relationship it’s important to realise that it is not all about you! As much as it is important for you to have your needs met, it is is essential that you learn how to express love to your partner in a way that they like to receive it. As a relationship counsellor, I often find myself discussing the 5 Love Languages which were developed by family and marriage counsellor Dr Gary Chapman. Dr Chapman discussed that we each have a primary way of expressing and interpreting love. He described these 5 ways of expressing and interpreting love as the love languages.
The 5 Love Languages are:
- Words of Affirmation: praise, compliments, acknowledgment
- Quality Time: spending time together, giving undivided attention
- Receiving Gifts: presents, cards, tokens
- Acts of Service: housework, fixing the car, childcare, cooking a meal
- Physical Touch: kisses, cuddles, massage, sex
In relationship counselling, I have often found that we get very upset when someone is not expressing love in the way we like to receive it. For example, I was working with a couple who had 2 young children. The wife had been a very successful educator and in her role had received a lot of verbal feedback, praise and acknowledgement in her role. After six months of maternity leave, she was craving to be acknowledged verbally but her husband was not a words man. He preferred to express his love for her through hugs and physical intimacy. She started to withdraw from him physically because she was not getting what she needed to feel loved and appreciated. As she withdrew physically, he felt unloved and unwanted.
I began by asking this couple to take the Love Languages quiz (www.5lovelanguages.com) and share their results with each other. As the wife I was working with valued words of affirmation, it was important for her husband to prioritise this and he began to give her praise, and verbal acknowledgement about how well she was doing as a mother. Knowing that physical touch was important for her husband, meant that his wife started make an effort to give him a proper kiss goodbye in the morning and a long hug and kiss when he returned home.
As both partners began to express love in the “right language”, they both started to feel loved and many of the resentments and arguments began to dissipate. There is nothing more painful that not feeling loved. Even though intellectually you know your partner loves you, you really do need them to express it in a way that you interpret as love.
If feeling unloved or misunderstood in your relationship is a concern for you, working with a professional counsellor to learn the skills in communicating effectively and clearly can make a huge difference to the quality of your relationship. If you need support, please contact Ginny on 0412 88 2345 to make an appointment as an individual or as a couple.