In my previous post about the five love languages (The 5 Love Languages by Dr. Gary Chapman), I left you wondering what happens when your partner speaks a different love language than you. Well, it looks something like this: You only understand English and they are speaking Chinese. Talk about miscommunication!
The eye-opening moment in sessions happens when each partner realizes they were expressing love in their own love language, and not necessarily the one their partner understands. All the while, both partners felt disconnected from each other and neither felt their needs were met. If each partner starts to express love in a way the other understands love, both partners would feel more fulfilled in the relationship.
It can be a confusing concept to grasp at first, but it is so simple to understand once it clicks! Here’s an example to help you understand what this would look like in real life:
Susan doesn’t think David is invested in the relationship because he spends most of his time working in his office or being distracted by work when he is at home with her. She feels second to his work. David thinks Susan is being ridiculous because he messages her throughout the day, telling her how he’s thinking of her, how he loves her, how he appreciates her. He supports her dreams and encourages her to do what she loves, so how can she question his love for her? In fact, David has started to feel distant from Susan as he feels under-appreciated, unsupported, and unloved by her.
In the above example, Susan’s love language is quality time. She feels loved when someone makes an effort to spend time with her but David doesn’t realize this about her. When David is verbally expressing his love, appreciation, and encouragement to her on a daily basis, he is actually speaking his own love language – words of affirmation – one that is completely foreign to Susan. David is confused and surprised because he thought he was doing everything to express his love to her, only to realize that Susan’s understanding of love is that of time spent together, and not of affirmations. And Susan is so focused on wanting to do things together with David and criticizing him for not prioritizing her that she’s not realizing his needs of verbal affirmation – which is his love language.
To help Susan feel loved and fulfilled in the relationship, David would need to spend one-on-one time with her at least on a weekly basis, if not daily, and give her undivided attention during this time. Susan, on the other hand, would need to express words of encouragement, appreciation, support, and verbal affection to David for him to feel loved and fulfilled. The take away from this example is that most couples make the mistake of speaking their own love language, and not their partner’s love language. Once both of you become aware of how each of you understands love, it will all start to make sense.
So, have you been able to identify what your love language is?