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Holy Spirit Interactive: Fr. Peter deSousa: Do you speak the same language as your spouse?

Do you speak the same language as your spouse?

by Fr. Peter deSousa

In "My fair lady" Professor Higgins tries to teach a young lady from a cockney background to speak the Queen's English. Do you as a couple speak the same language of love?

Gary Chapman in his book : "The Five Love Languages. How to express heartfelt commitment to your mate", mentions five main emotional languages of love. If I know the language my spouse speaks, I am better able to respond with love and understanding to his or her needs. What are these?

  1. Words of Affirmation

    My love tank is filled by words that affirm that I am loved, needed, appreciated, encouraged, missed, forgiven, understood and special to my spouse. Many of us are critical of the behaviour in our spouse that we do not like. Words that criticise, judge, belittle, ridicule or put down our spouse, empty his/her love tank. A popular song asks: "If tomorrow never comes, would she know how much you loved her"? Make a list of what you like about your Spouse and would miss if he/she were no longer with you. Write a love letter to him/her and mention them.

  2. Quality Time is the second love language

    How can you give him/her your undivided attention? A dating couple in a restaurant appear to be focused on each other. Some married couples focus on the menu, ambience and the way others are dressed. Togetherness is more than physical proximity. It means focused attention. Do you plan times when you can do this? Do you make time everyday to share your experiences, thoughts, feelings and desires in an uninterrupted and friendly way. Listen sympathetically to what your spouse is saying. Draw him/her out because you are genuinely interested to understand his/her thoughts, feelings and desires. Do not give advice or try to solve problems. Accompany the other and show that you care.

  3. Receiving and Giving gifts to each other is the third language of love

    The gift reminds me that the other is thinking fondly of me, remembers me and is expressing his or her love for me in a kind and thoughtful way. Do you remember when your small child would return from an evening stroll with a flower plucked in the garden for you? How did you feel? Physical presence in a time of crisis is the most powerful gift that you can give. A letter or a phone call from afar makes the other really present to you. The gift does not have to be expensive. The best gift is when you share yourselves vulnerably with each other.

  4. The fourth language of love is Acts of service

    In a family there are various acts of service to please and help each other. Such acts of service require thought, planning, time, effort and energy. We have a beautiful example in Jesus washing the feet of his disciples. This was the work of a slave. Jesus through this gesture of love and humility, chooses to serve rather than to be served, although he is master and Lord. He encourages his disciples to do likewise. Never demand service from the other. Humbly request the other. Sincerely appreciate the many ways in which your spouse serves you. When he/she is away what acts of service do you miss or have you taken for granted? Tell him or her now. Please make a list of what you appreciate and say thank you. Now request what you would like him/her to do. He or she is free to respond. Be grateful if the other obliges. Do not manipulate or force the other. As helpmates and life companions share humbly, openly and lovingly

  5. The fifth language is Physical Touch

    We all know that babies who are held, hugged and kissed develop emotionally, compared to those that do not receive much physical closeness. Jesus was never too busy to carry the little ones in his arms and bless those who came to him. He healed through touch. Husbands and wives who hold hands, embrace, hug, touch with gentleness and kindness, kiss, fondle, massage are saying to each other, non verbally: "I need you; I love you; I find you desirable; I miss you; I forgive you; I am with you."

Perhaps the message is: "Love me; comfort me; affirm me; encourage me; appreciate me; forgive me; show me that you care for me; reassure me; strengthen me." Share with your spouse what kind of touch you need and find pleasurable and comforting.

While all couples may speak all of these 5 love languages, one or other is the primary love language of your spouse and is the best way you can respond to him/her. To help you find out, you may like to answer these questions and then share them with each other.

  1. Which of these 5 languages, makes you feel most loved by your Spouse? (When you affirm me, spend quality time with me; give me)

  2. What do I desire above all else from you? (as above)

  3. What behaviour of your Spouse hurts you the most?

  4. Which of the 5 ways do you most use to express your love for your spouse?

You may be bi-lingual if two of the languages are equally important to you. It is important to check it out with your Spouse if you really want to enter into his/her world, as Jesus enters into ours.

You can also do this to find out the love language of children or other members of the family.

Fr. Peter deSousa (July 24, 2004)

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