Love language: What do you do when your love language isn’t the same?
I’ve been married for 12 years. With that length of time together, you’d think my husband and I totally get each other’s quirks by now, that we can read each other’s minds. Nope. We still bicker over the littlest things. We still have bouts of “tampuhan” (displeasure with each other). But there are joyful things too. We giggle (well, I giggle, he laughs) over stories unearthed from each other’s childhood. It’s funny because we’ve been together for so long but there’s still so much about each other that we’re still discovering. Because of these new discoveries, we understand each other even better.
One of the ways I have learned to better understand my husband is realizing that our love language is not the same. The 5 Love Languages is a book by Gary Chapman. It explains how there are 5 different ways to express and experience love. The five love languages are:
- Receiving Gifts
- Quality Time
- Words of Affirmation
- Acts of Service
- Physical Touch
Each of us has our own way of expressing and receiving love. I’m beginning to see that in some of our arguments as husband and wife, it’s mostly rooted in not understanding each other’s love language.
Gary Chapman advises that people shouldn’t use the love languages they have to show their love, but rather the love languages that their partner has. I’ve written about our love language before, and it really is a learning process.
Love Language Conflicts
My husband’s love language is acts of service and gifts. This means that when showing his love to me, most of the time he gives me presents or does something for me. Sometimes it’s a venti coffee from Starbucks when he knows I’m working late, or running an errand he knows I can’t do.
My love language is words and gifts. I show my love through letters and words of appreciation, as well as little presents here and there.
So when it comes to gifting, my husband and I are on the same page. But when it comes to acts of service and words, that’s where the conflict begins.
There was a time (and that equates to many years) that I expected my husband to tell me and tell the world how he loves me, that he loves me. “Why don’t you tell me you love me?!!” I’ve asked him, throwing a tantrum or two. Oh yeah, it got that bratty. Or “why don’t you tell me I look good/I’m a good Mom/I’m a good wife/etc….?” To which he’d say that he believes I am. “Then why don’t you tell me?!?!” To me, it’s all a matter of saying it. I’m satisfied with words. Seriously.
But my husband isn’t very wordy. He’d rather express his love through an act of service or give me a gift. I know that now, after understanding the concept of love language better. So now I know that while he doesn’t always say that he loves me, he expresses his love for me in his own ways.
On the flip side, he expects me to show my love in the form of acts of service. This can come in the form of preparing his clothes for bed, fixing his plate of food at the dinner table, running an errand for him when he can’t, little stuff like that. This was a big struggle for me at first because, again, to me those are chores, not acts of love. But to him, they ARE acts of love. So now I’ve learned to do them not mechanically, but with love. Then the acts of service turn from mundane to meaningful.
So what do you do when your love language isn’t the same?
- Learn what your love partner’s language is. Which are most important to them?
- Show your love using your partner’s love language.
- Ask your partner to learn to express love in your love language. It’s two-way! Tell your partner how you wish to be loved, and ask that he or she do so in return.
You can learn what your love language is by answering the profiling test: http://www.5lovelanguages.com/profile/. Answer it together!
As a last note, remember the above quote:
“Just because somebody does not love you the way you want them to, doesn’t mean they don’t love you with all they have.”
But it sure can get a whole lot easier when you identify each other’s language and speak each other’s love language.