Ever felt that your partner has walls up? You love them, you know they love you but somehow neither of you can get through to each other?
These walls have an official name – Resentment. It is what I see as the slow death of happy healthy relationships, and whilst some resentment does come from deeper issues we need work through. Most resentment breeds in everyday little things
“I just don’t feel appreciated!”
The opposite of resentment is appreciation, love, adoration, it is in fact the natural happy healthy state of relationships, and I know most of us are with our partners because we do love them and they love us. The problem arises when we start move out of the honeymoon period and back into our more mundane normal selves and lives. Whilst we may all be feeling the same feelings, we don’t all express or receive those feelings the same way, and that’s ok. But when we don’t realise these little differences between our partners, and ourselves we can inadvertently feel like we are in a loveless relationship.
Let me introduce you to the Genius Gary Chapman who wrote the amazing book the 5 Love Languages. It’s a must read if you ask me, and the number 1 resource I refer people to. I love Gary’s work because it’s a great relationship hack, and I love hacks, any short cut or little life cheat code we can take to make our lives more harmonious is what I’m about.
Lets start by looking at the 5 Love Languages what are, how do they look?
Quality Time is about attention, your attention on your partner. It’s about spending dedicated one on one time together and creating special moments.
Physical Touch is about affection, so think cuddles and kisses, holding hands, soft tickles, and cuddling up on the couch. The love language translates physical touch and affection as a feeling of closeness. This one isn’t so much about the sex, in fact I find people who have physical touch as a preference are particular about the type of touch, if your touch is too sexual for them, it will flick off their libido like a light switch.
Acts of Service think, “Actions speak louder than words” this love language is all about showing that you love someone. So think “how can I make life easier for you”, doing all the laundry before they get a chance, filling up their car with petrol, doing that one thing they keep putting off.
Gift Giving this is about materialism its about thoughtfulness. People with this love language love to know that today whilst you were out you walked past a flower and thought of them so you brought it home.
Words of Affirmation this language is all about verbal compliments and praise, the sound and tone of your voice when you say it, and the frequency of them.
We all will find that we have preference 1 or 2 of these languages and usually there will be 1 of the languages that doesn’t really resonate with us. For example, if Acts of Service isn’t your thing, but its your partners thing a common disagreement you might have, is your partner picking up your mug and washing it (so you don’t have to), but that just means there’s so much extra washing getting done because you need like 4 cups of coffee to get through the day! So this is annoying to you, and it’s a little sting of rejection to them, because what really was happening was your partner was trying to communicate that they love you.
Turning this into a Hack!
Now for the fun bit, hacking our relationships with the love languages, first, we have to work out how our partners work. This part is easy. Just watch how they treat you.
Are they always pointing out things in the markets that they think you would like? Do they always send birthday cards to their friends? Do they get you chocolate when they refuel the card? – They are Gifts.
Does your partner seem to have a thousand nicknames for you? Do they tell you they love you everyday or wake you up singing you little songs? This is words of affirmation.
Does your partner pick up your clothes after you shower? Refuel your car? Bring you coffee in bed in the morning? This is Acts of Service.
Is your partner always reaching for your hand? Do they touch your leg as you drive? This is Physical touch.
Is dinnertime important to your partner? Do they like pillow talk? This one is Quality Time.
If you spend time observing your partner and work out which 1 or 2 they seem to be doing the most, then you’ve got their languages. If you find this confusing (you can always just ask them.)
Now to use these languages we simply pay attention to showing our love and appreciation in their language. That way we make sure our partners know we love them and that they are special.
It also helps out when we find those little annoying things that our partners do (such as the washing the mug prematurely example) and remember in those moments this is how they show their love.
Now I know that this sounds far too simple to make a big difference to any relationship. So one last thing to think about, how you two started. Think back to your honeymoon period, where you felt special, your partner was smitten and romance was palpable. You two just felt like 2 peas in a pod, made for each other, then life happened and the distance came. What was different?
I’ll tell you, during the honeymoon period when we are dating, we naturally do all of the love languages, so even when our languages are mismatched we are still hearing and expressing love.