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In my blog on June 28, 2013, I elaborated on how powerful words are and how they can have a strong vibration of manifestation in a negative sense. Today, almost a year later, I would like to focus on how the same concept works in the opposite way. Words of Love and Affirmation have a strong powerful vibration that deepens our love.
Personally, I feel seen, heard, appreciated and most safe with a partner who is able and willing to express his love and appreciation through words. That means expressing his feelings, affirming my actions and accomplishments, or complimenting me in some way. Words are the surest way to connect with me. My primary love language is words of affirmation. And I am not the only one who feels a strong connection and heart opening when hearing kind and loving words. When I feel disconnected, it always is because my partner and I had no opportunity to speak. However, that feeling of disconnect is remedied very quickly with a loving text, a phone call, or some time set aside to speak.
Gottman has shown the destructiveness of negative interactions in his research. He points out that it takes five positives comments to negate one negative. On the other hand, regular loving and understanding verbal interactions create something like an account of affection that we can draw on in challenging or stressful times.
Another love language is physical touch. If that is your primary love language you might reach out to your partner to touch, to hug or to hold hands. And it makes you feel safe, perhaps calms you down, to be touched. Without touch you tend to feel unappreciated, unloved or disconnected from your partner.
Most of us are multilingual when it comes to expressing affection. We might speak two or three love languages quite well but we usually have a primary one that we will need to receive, or that we default to in terms of expressing our affection.
A third love language is the one of giving love through acts of service. You or your partner might cook fabulously, keep everything need and tidy, run the kids around whenever they need a ride, repair things around the house and so on. In my experience, this is a love language we tend to overlook and take for granted. When have you last told your spouse how grateful you are for something they do for you or for the family? Or if their love language is not words of affirmation, can you express your appreciation for their acts of service in their way? Touch? A gift? Another service?
Or perhaps you primarily experience being loved when spending quality time with your partner, a fourth love language. Engaging in cultural or recreational activities together on a regular basis is an important way of staying connected. The saying “couples who play together, stay together” is a testament to this. Even when we are parents with young children and our priority is to spend family time together, we also need to make time for a “date night” or other one-on-one interaction with our partner.
The fifth love language is giving or receiving gifts. That was my mom’s love language when she wanted to show her affection. I always knew that a gift meant, “I am thinking of you, that’s why I bought you something”. When working with clients I have occasionally come across the other person looking down onto the love language of gifts. They will say something like, “I don’t want him to buy me something, I want ____”. And they fill in the blank with their love language which they perceive as “more meaningful”.
I often summarize the book “The 5 Love Languages” by Gary Chapman for my clients, in particular when someone sits in front of me who is deeply convinced their partner/parent/child does not love them, “not really in the way that they should.” The truth is that there is no right way to express love. However, there are these five love languages we all speak, some with more skill and enjoyment, others with less.
We have to keep in mind that everybody automatically expresses their affection in which ever way they have learned to and are most comfortable with. However, we can learn our partner’s love language and strive to speak it more, even if it does not come naturally to us. Since we are just dealing with different languages in this matter, we can make an effort to speak the other person’s language and we can appreciate the way in which they are expressing their affection.
It helps to figure out what your primary love language(s) is and which one(s) your partner uses. Compare them. Is it really true that they do not show you their love? Or are they just speaking a different love language?
I have had partners throughout my life who were not comfortable expressing emotions and were suspicious of hearing affirmations or compliments. Instead they had another primary language like Acts of Service or Giving Gifts. They would, for example, do something practical as their only expression of love, or they would buy me a gift. Sometimes it was hard for me to understand that their language was simply different. What if we could graciously accept a different love language while having an open conversation with our partner about what makes us feel most loved?
What is your preferred love language? Which language do you like to use; which do you like to receive? What is your partner’s love language? Your daughter’s or son’s? How can you learn to understand, or even speak, each other’s languages?
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