Joyce* has been coming to me for relationship advice for a couple of months as she was considering leaving her relationship. She’d been with this guy for the last two years but had got to the point where she could no longer ignore her sense of feeling under appreciated. I taught her about Gary Chapman’s Love Languages and things quickly changed. Initially she’d been very angry with her partner James, but she quickly came to the understanding that the level of pain she was in was her responsibility not his. If you want to learn how to be loved and to love your partner then read on.
He Never Says: I Love You
One of the biggest areas for potential growth occurs the moment you accept that it’s your job to educate your partner about what makes you feel most loved. Then, for a truly magnificent relationship, learn how to love your partner how they want to be loved, not how you think they want to be loved.
One of my clients taught me to think about this concept in a really easy way. When it comes to giving our loved ones gifts there is a real tendency to end up buying your partner the things you’d love to receive. So James buying his girlfriend a leaf blower and Joyce buying him a new pair of shoes was never really going to go well.
Learn the Love Languages
Gary Chapman wrote a book called “The Five Languages of Love” and it’s a real eye opener. You see, we all have our own preferred way to receive love and the mistake that we make is in assuming that our mate speaks that same language. The five languages are as follows.
1. Words of appreciation. One of the more obvious love languages. If this is your thing then being told ‘I love you’ could mean the world to you. If it isn’t then potentially as far as you’re concerned ‘words are cheap’.
2. Acts of service. If this is your language then your partner could touch your heart by cooking dinner for you or arranging to have your garden cleared. This was my Granny’s language ‘Love is as love does!’ Of course if this isn’t how you get to feel loved then for you your partner spending hours in the kitchen cooking could feel like they were avoiding physical touch. (One of the other big five love languages.)
3. Quality Time. This is about making time for each other just to be together maybe going out to the movies or hanging around in bed all day long. Hopefully you’re beginning to see how some of these languages can conflict. If you’re looking for ‘Acts of service’ and your partner is just lying around on the couch with you then you may be feeling pretty unloved.
4. Physical touch. Some people feel loved the most from being held, cuddled or stroked. It’s important to note that this isn’t necessarily in a sexual way. Your partner may be busy giving you the massage of a lifetime as far as they are concerned and you are potentially laid there wondering why they never tell you that they love you.
5. Gifts. ‘Yahoo! You bought me a book. I can’t believe how much you love me!’ Now depending on whether this is your language you may wonder if the above line is for real. Trust me, for some people even small gifts really light up their heart. Of course if it isn’t your language then you are really sure that ‘Money can’t buy you love!’
How to Feel Loved
Joyce took a really good look at the five different love languages and instantly spotted that ‘acts of service’ allowed her to feel loved. One of her previous boyfriends had spent a day fixing up her bathroom and James never seemed to do anything for her. Of course she was busy cooking for him on a regular basis and worked really hard to keep the flat tidy for him. All of which she quietly resented doing as it all seemed very one sided.
I had her sit down with James and talk about what she’d learned about love languages. It turned out that in order for him to feel truly loved he needed quality time. For James quality time meant watching a movie together or just laying around in bed chatting. Unfortunately he’d spent quite a lot of time waiting for Joyce to ‘finish her endless list of chores’ by which time he’d fallen asleep or gone off the idea.
I’m hoping that armed with your understanding of Chapman’s Love Languages you can see how that dynamic was born to fail. The good news is that the moment they clarified the confusion between themselves they came up with some solutions that met both their needs.
It really is worth asking your loved one, I guarantee that they know which love language they speak. There is no right and wrong around this, you just need to figure out how to love you partner the best way for them. Remember that because their language is likely to be foreign to you, you may do better by asking them to teach you about the kind of things they’d love.
Advanced Relationship Tips For Giving Gifts People Love.
Words of appreciation
If your partner longs to hear how much you love them then try to make sure the last thing they hear at night is how special they are to you. Tell them something they did that moved you and just how much you appreciated it.
Acts of service
We all have things we wish we could get done but haven’t got around to yet. Maybe your partner has been trying to hang a mirror for the past year or sort out a particular flower bed in the garden. Once you figure one of these things out try to get it done whilst they are out. It pays big dividends if this is their love language.
Quality is best defined by your partner. For some it’s time out doing fantastically exciting things and for others it’s time in by the fire with no distractions other than your underwear.
These people are generally fairly obvious, they are the ones that love to hold you even while you’re washing up. If physical touch isn’t your thing that can be plain irritating, so try to figure out better ways of meeting their needs. As a gross generalisation that may be helpful a lot of women feel more nourished if the touching is non-sexual. In contrast a lot of men find physical touch that isn’t sexual to be less rewarding.
Interesting point here. According to John Gray men and women differ on receiving gifts. Apparently every gift a woman receives scores a point, anywhere between picking up her favourite magazine and buying her an expensive piece of jewelry will only win you one point. Men however don’t work this way. They only really recognise and remember the big things. Show up at his home with a top of the range anything and he’s yours forever. The little treats just don’t stay in his memory in the same way and pretty quickly get filed as clutter.
* We always change names to protect our clients’ privacy.