Men and women are inherently different; the saying “men are from Mars, women are from Venus” has resonated with every man and woman trying to make a relationship work since the early 90’s when the book was first published.
What makes the unity of two separate beings complicated? I have come to find that it’s not only the inherent gender differences, gaps in conversational styles, natural birth order, astrological signs, how you were raised, variance in religious beliefs, insecurities, (the list goes on), but ALSO how you communicate your affection and love for one another.
A study from Rutgers University expands on this. In the same way men and women have different bodies, they also have different brains. It goes well beyond the formative impact of testosterone and estrogen. These inherent differences are part of what lead to communication breakdowns.
Only when you understand what your partner needs from you, and how your partner naturally shows love, will you be able to fully appreciative each loving signal they send.
The Five Love Languages
If you don’t know what your love language is, you can discover it here. I would recommend sitting down and taking this test together with your spouse if you never have.
Your love language is the way in which you receive love best. My husband and I took this test during our premarital counseling. Often times, people think they give and receive love in a certain way, only to find out up on closer inspection that they receive love differently.
Keep in mind that most people appreciate all of the love languages, they simply have a higher preference or need for one or two in particular. In many cases, you will not feel fully loved without receiving love via your two primary love languages.
Him Vs. Her
A recent Sunday afternoon we woke up a little later than usual and decided we were going to enjoy a lazy Sunday around the house. With a baby on the way, I was really looking forward to a day of cuddling and watching movies.
My husband got up to let the dogs out and upon my request, came back to bed to cuddle and talk. But then, he got on Facebook. Next he texted his mom. Then he texted his best friend. So I got up, and decided to start my day/slash pout about his insensitivity.
My husband is a smart man, and it quickly became clear that I was annoyed at his being unable to give me undivided attention. So being the man, and therefore wanting to fix the problem and continue on with the day, he quickly got up to unload the dishwasher, mow the lawn and finish some laundry.
At this moment, it became clear to me that I needed quality time from my husband. Since my husband doesn’t typically express love via quality time, he was doing his best job to love me by giving me acts of service instead. To him, it was all the same.
Men like to be needed, but usually in more practical ways. Does he want to sit and listen to my drama from work? No. But if I ask him to do something specific, he is on it! My husband LOVES doing things for me, doing things for us, and doing things for our home.
Often times, when I express frustration at having not seen him much due to his late hours at work and his extensive house maintenance on the weekend, his explanation is, “I am working hard and doing yard work for our home… for us”.
This is where understanding the five love languages comes into play. By understanding my own love languages and those of my husband, I can recognize the disconnect, appreciate the ways my husband is expressing love, and communicate my needs to him in a way that spells out exactly what I need without making him guess.
Similarly, when my husband understands how we both tend to express and receive love, he can be intentionally about loving me in the ways I need and communicating his own needs to me.
Practical Tips For Applying The 5 Love Languages
Here are a few ideas to enhance your marriage by applying your partner’s love language. The most valuable marriage advice I have ever been given is that everyone goes through weird phases in their marriage, and everyone has conflict. But in the end, it’s the ability to communicate, ask for what you need, and take responsibility for your flaws that will make a marriage last.
1. Acts of Service
Men seem to be inherently good at this one. My husband always makes sure my gas tank has gas, my tires are maintained, our lawn is mowed, and the bills are paid.
If you notice your spouse is similar, you can speak their language by: doing laundry, cooking their favorite meal, helping with yard work, or packing their lunch for them.
2. Words of Affirmation
If you notice that your partner loves compliments, you can speak their language verbally affirming them, writing them love notes, taking a few extra minutes each morning to say something sweet about how they look, or regularly telling them about how they make you happy.
3. Quality Time
Unplug your phone, go on walks, and talk about something new. Order take-out and cuddle on the couch. Pray together. The list of things you can do for quality time is endless and can be completely free.
Even if you aren’t particularly a gift loving person, everyone loves it when a friend or partner picks up their favorite ice cream, snack or movie. So if your partner is a gift lover, speak their language by making sure to put a little extra thought into their gifts this season. Pick them up something small that you know they’ll love when they have a bad day.
5. Physical Touch
This love language is an interesting one because it’s generally a highly rated love requirement for both men and women, although, it’s the KIND of touch that differs.
Just try to remember that your partner is a physical being, and with that, spending a little extra time on a little TLC never hurt anyone.
There are tons of articles on the importance of touch and sex in a marriage. If this is your partner’s love language, try to be intentional about creating some type of physical connection on a regular basis.
Love languages are an especially important part of every marriage. If you’re lucky, you and your spouse share the same love languages, making connection easy. For everyone else, it requires you to be intentional, but isn’t that what a great marriage is all about anyway?