Today, February 7th, kicks off National Marriage Week, which is a part of an international campaign to raise awareness about the benefits of marriage for couples, families, and communities. National Marriage Week goes through Valentine’s Day, and so I’m taking the opportunity over the next week to give you some tips on building a stronger relationship or maintaining the resilient one you already have. Please leave a comment, like, or share if you find these posts helpful or useful! ☺
The first goodie I wanted to share with you comes from a resource many of my couples clients have found incredibly useful in their relationships. It provides a unique window into understanding yourself and your partner – even your children! You’ve probably already heard of it, if not read it yourself: The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman.
I was first introduced to this book when Rob and I were dating, and it was helpful then to understand the way in which each of us felt most loved by the other. Over the last 20+ years, it has become a vital part of how we understand each other, and we revisit the quiz every few years to “recalibrate” and see how we’ve changed. (I’ll give you the link to take the quiz below!)
The nugget that stayed with me the most over the years – and which I use myself frequently in sessions – is “we give the type of love we most want to receive”. If you’re not familiar with the 5 love languages, they are basically a way of finding out what’s your “love bullseye” – the way you feel the most loved by your partner. There are of course many different ways a person can feel loved, but usually we have a specific one or maybe two that really mean the most, and fill our “love tanks” the best. They are:
- Words of Affirmation (ex., “I appreciate when you ____”)
- Quality Time (doing something together, not watching TV)
- Receiving Gifts (yes, this counts! Doesn’t have to be a purchased gift)
- Acts of Service (loading the dishwasher, walking the dog)
- Physical Touch (affection, sex, handholding, etc.)
No one love language is more valid than another, and understanding your partner’s natural bent towards a particular love language can save you much aggravation. I see many couples where they love each other and try to show that love by doing for their partner what they would most want done for themselves. In their minds, this is the best, highest-quality expression of love, and they are confused, hurt and resentful that the other doesn’t see it as such. I have a great cartoon I sometimes give to clients that illustrates this dynamic perfectly. A man is outside washing his wife’s car. His thought bubble: “I love her so much, I want her car to be clean and beautiful for her!”. The wife is leaning out a nearby window, glaring at him and thinking, “He spends more time with that *@^(& car than he does me!”
It’s funny because it’s true. So are you ready to find out which love language you are? Take the quiz here The Five Love Languages Quiz, and then give it to your partner – you can download a pdf and print it out too. You can also have your kids take it, to find out how they most feel loved as well (that’s what I’ll be giving the twins today!). Let me know if you have a lightbulb moment in understanding your relationship and yourself; I’d love to hear your results.
By the way, my love language has changed over the years…I just took the quiz before writing this post, and my results truly reflect my stage in life. The best way my husband can show me love? Acts of service, baby. ☺