We have all fallen in love before. We are completely obsessed with that person and are convinced that this is the ‘real thing’. That person is the last person we think of when we go to bed and the first person we think of when we wake up. The feeling of ‘falling in love’ is euphoric, making us believe that these feelings and this moment will last forever. When we see other relationships failing we ask ourselves: “Wasn’t it real? Where they really in love to begin with?”. The truth is that the experience we call ‘falling in love’ is a temporary high and that real love, a love that is not an emotional obsession, but one that unites reason and emotion, takes a lot of hard work. We all have the need to be loved, but when we come down from our ‘love high’ we are still left with that unfulfilled need, one that can only be fulfilled by choice and reason. Real love requires effort and discipline, it is intentional and does not require the “in-love” euphoria. The big question here is “How do we meet each other’s emotional needs?”.
The book “The 5 love languages” by Gary Chapman explains that people tend to show love to others the way they oftentimes like to receive love. If I feel the most loved when my partner gives me gifts, I am most likely to show my love to him by doing the same (giving him gifts). This can sometimes lead to disappointment and frustration on both ends because your ‘love tank’ is not being filled the way it should be. Constant complaints, negativity and tension can be a sign that you are running on an empty love tank. In order for us to fill our partner’s ‘love tank’, we have to make sure we are speaking the right love language. How can we make sure we are speaking the right love language?
Words of Affirmation
“Death and life are in the power of the tongue: and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof.” – Proverbs 18:21
This proverb is certainly true and is a very important principle. Words are important! A lot of couples don’t realize the importance in expressing their emotional love verbally towards their partner. There is tremendous power in in verbally affirming each other. Whether it is through a compliment, a word of appreciation or encouragement, words of affirmation will build you up. Encouraging your partner will make them feel closer to you and appreciated, rather than feeling like they are being nagged or falling short.
If you find it difficult to express appreciation for the things you like about your partner and often gravitate towards complaints, then try this exercise. Write down all the things you appreciate or like about your partner. Your list could look somewhat like this:
* I appreciate how Sharif helps me around the house
* I appreciate how Sharif cooks for me after a long day at work
* I enjoy seeing how passionate he is about his work
The next step should be to communicate these verbally to your partner. Make it a habit to give your partner a compliment every day. Get creative and communicate these to your partner through text, a letter or leave a note. Do not belittle your partner in front of others, instead compliment him in the presence of people he deems important. Last but not least make sure you are being sincere.
“Why are you never home.”
“You don’t spend enough time with me.”
If this is something you find yourself saying often then chances are ‘quality time’ is your love language. You find that spending time with your partner and having their attention makes you happy. When I say ‘quality time’, I don’t mean watching tv together or browsing through facebook together, but actually taking the time to talk to your partner, taking the time to do the things they love and doing the things you did when you first started dating. “When you spend more time on Facebook than listening to each other, you end up more concerned about your hundred friends than about your spouse”. Someone who complains about their partner spending too much time at work does not hate their partner’s work, but they are simply not feeling enough love coming from their partner. Focused attention, quality conversations and quality activities are important! Even if you are not much of a talker you, you can choose to be a great listener.
Try asking your partner what activities he or she would like for you to do together. Make sure you do one of these activities each month. Even if these activities do not interest you much, show your partner you are broadening your horizons by planning these activities regardless. Share what happens during the day with your partner by sending a picture of what you are doing at that moment (especially if you do not get to spend enough time together). Talk about your day with your partner and listen carefully to what he or she has to say. Make a list of things that distract you from spending time with your partner and write down how you are going to tackle this distraction. (example: Facebook distracts me from spending time with my partner - I will cut down my social media time to max 1 hour a day.)
A gift is a visual symbol of love, more important to some than others. When Sharif gives me a gift I feel like he was thinking about me. The cost doesn’t matter, what matters to me is that my husband was thinking about me at that moment. When I was a child I remember my mother framing the drawings I made her and wearing the bracelets I would make her. It made her feel loved. The same goes in a relationship. To be proficient in this language it is important that you understand that every gift is an investment in your relationship. If you are more of a saver, you will probably find it hard to come to terms with the idea that you need to spend money in order to express your partner’s love language. Keep in mind that you are investing in your relationship and filling your partner’s love tank, and by doing so he or she will reciprocate love to you in your own love language. Besides buying gifts or making gifts for your partner, you can also give them the gift of self. Your physical presence is important to someone whose primary language is receiving gifts. If this is you, make sure you verbalize this to you partner.
When money is tight, think of inexpensive gifts you could give to your partner. Try making a gift for your partner, if necessary consider enrolling in an art class. Keep a notebook with gifts ideas, so when you think of something your partner would want or when he or she mentions one you can write it down. Offer the gift of your presence during a difficult time, whether your partner has lost someone of whether your partner is going through a job crisis.
These are only three out of five love languages. In part two I will share more on the last two love languages which are acts of service and physical touch. I will also share more on choosing to love, especially in broken or difficult relationships. If you enjoyed the first part of this blog don’t forget to comment, like and subscribe! Till the next one.
Editor: Joshua Sakoetoe
Photographer: Sharif Jacobino & Jehan Da Camara