Miscommunication happens frequently in families, among friends and in relationships. Expecting an “I love you” or “you look pretty” is not too much to ask, so why do so many spouses neglect to say it to the one they love? Does a spouse have to say “I love you” when they’ve mowed the lawn or taken you to dinner, as well as taken out the trash in an effort to show their commitment and affection? Everyone has a different way to show and say ‘I love you” and your way is largely determined by what you saw your parents do as a child.
If your parents hugged, then you most likely enjoy your partner hugging you, whereas, if your parents never touched and rarely spoke of love, you may be less likely to feel loved or cared for when your partner tells you they love you with a big hug.
Gary Chapman wrote a book about the five languages of love. These five were derived by surveys taken of what makes couples feel most valued and cared for.
- Words of affection: if hearing I love you, praise or compliments make you feel valued, loved and appreciated most, then this is one of your love languages.
- Spending time together: if you need to spend time together to feel appreciated and cared for most, then this is your love language.
- Gifts: if your partner needs to bring you a gift to make you feel loved and cared for most, then this is your love language.
- Acts of serving: if you feel most loved when your partner does something for you, then this is your love language.
- Physical touch: if being touched, hugged, and kissed or intimacy makes you feel most loved, then this is your love language.
The best way to learn to communicate love for your partner is to sit down together and go through this list of five, identifying which love language(s) makes you feel most loved.
Secondly, ask your partner specifically what actions make them feel most loved. For example, if they prefer acts of service, what exact acts of service make them feel loved by you? For some people that’s attending events or doing extra errands, and for others it’s mowing the lawn or picking up the dry cleaning. Get as specific as you can for your relationship.
Thirdly, give your partner feedback. They cannot read your mind. They may feel as though they are being a loving spouse with their actions, but the way they love you may leave you feeling alone and misunderstood. Loving someone is about communicating with them and connecting to their heart. It requires patience, understanding and a willingness to be vulnerable with your needs.
Taking the time to talk to your partner about their feelings and whether they feel loved and cared for by you is vital to your relationship survival. Being in a relationship where you know intellectually your partner loves you, but yet you don’t feel loved, is analogous to being involved in a complicated conversation and lost in translation.