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?
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
- Which of these 5 languages, makes you feel most loved by your Spouse? (When you affirm me, spend quality time with me; give me)
- What do I desire above all else from you? (as above)
- What behaviour of your Spouse hurts you the most?
- 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.
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For Better or for Worse copyright © 2004 Fr. Peter deSousa. All rights reserved. Information partly sourced from Five Love language series by Dr. Gary Chapman; Moody Press Chicago