Thoughts on love and realtionships.
(Gary Chapman: The 5 Love Languages)
“For love, we will climb mountains, cross seas, traverse desert sands, and endure untold hardships. Without love, mountains become unclimbable, seas uncrossable, deserts unbearable, and hardships our lot in life.”
A week ago I was window shopping with a friend of mine. I told her I was reading this book titled The 5 love languages. I asked her if she has heard of it before. She looked at me like “duh, I read it like 10 years ago.” I then asked her what she thought of the book and whether she learned something from it. She said the author’s message was pretty straightforward and simple, “we are all very different, so there’s no wonder we can’t get along.” I looked at her with a serious face, and we both started laughing out loud as she realized what she just said.
But then again, how many of us have given up on love at some point in our life when being hit with the realisation of how hard it is to actually keep up with a healthy, long-term relationship, that remains loving and interesting and does not end up being reduced to something people describe as “almost living with a roommate kind of situation”.
When I was little I believed life had its own way of figuring itself out. I thought once you grew up, everything suddenly fell into its place and everyone lived happily ever after. Once I grew up, I was hit with the cold truth – relationships among adults are just as hard if not harder.
I am lucky to have found a few great loves (at least I thought they were at the time) throughout my short life and yet I always ended with a broken heart, disappointed or just alone. How come my great loves didn’t last? How come people who love each other don’t get to have their happily ever after? How come love isn’t enough?
“The best thing we can do with the failures of the past is to let them be history.”
Life in my twenties was pretty much a confusing time in my life.
Having done some stupid things in love, I thought maybe everything will work out perfectly if only I’m willing to give my best. Maybe all it takes is being the perfect girlfriend. It turns out being something you’re not (because no one is perfect), even when you’re oh-so-lovely and honest and loyal and supportive and understanding, will not necessarily make up for a great, long-lasting relationship. In fact, it didn’t.
I wonder what my life would be like if I read The 5 love languages 10, 15 years ago? Would it matter? Did I even care at that time? Would I understand?
Four years ago, as in life happens, I fell in love with my complete opposite. Opposites attract, they say, but they don’t tell you that two opposites will have a very hard time making their relationship work.
And work we did.
If you are willing to put in enough hard work and are open to really commit to your love, you are in for a treat. Opposites, if they learn to communicate, will have a blast. The only problem is that the type of communication that’s required here is not what we usually think of.
After a very turbulent couple of years, my partner and I were not on a good path. Love sometimes my dear friends (unfortunately) just isn’t enough. Love can survive on its own, but the relationship won’t. Since we both knew we really wanted to make this work and were not willing to give up on us, we started learning about love.
We have read a lot of books throughout this period. Some were good, others weren’t. I don’t believe you should take everything you read for granted but I do believe you should take your time and think about what you’ve read. Is there anything you think could make your life better? Start doing it. Is there anything in there that you think it makes no sense? Let it go.
Even though I’ve read it just recently, The 5 love languages, in my opinion, is a basic read for anyone interested in improving their relationship (even with friends and family).
The message of this book is quite self-explanatory: there are 5 love languages. Each one of us speaks a love language that is more important to him/her but, as in real life, in love, we also speak dialects. His/her main love language is the way he/she accepts and gives love. It’s pretty simple, right? Well, not really.
Since the world is designed in a way that we are usually attracted to our opposite, it gets really confusing and merely impossible to communicate love with our partner.
I knew that my partner and I were opposites; it was obvious since the beginning. It was the reason I was attracted to him in the first place. I just never realized before that we were also opposites in the way we show and receive love. I would almost get mad at him for wanting me to compliment him more often. I thought he was vain I could not understand who in their right mind would put such emphasis on compliments. Well, I can tell you that my partner is definitely one that could survive on a good compliment for days. And if he can, it means there are many more out there who could also.
I did not understand that his love language was different than mine. I did not understand when he said he loved me but wouldn’t clean up after himself even though I have asked him many times. It turns out Acts of Service is just not his love language.
After reading the book, I immediately took the 5 love languages test to find out what’s my dominant love language.
Which language do you speak?
As mentioned, there are 5 love languages: Words of Affirmation, Quality Time, Receiving Gifts, Acts of Service, and Physical Touch.
My two prevailing languages are Quality Time and Acts of Service. While reading the book, I instantly knew those were not the languages my partner spoke. It turns out he mostly speaks Words of Affirmation and Physical Touch. Do you see? I told you we were opposites. 🙂 I thought this was an ‘aha moment’ (as Oprah loves to call it) in my love life.
At 30 years of age, I realized that in order to make it work we must be willing to learn to speak our partner’s love language.
“My conclusion after thirty years of marriage counseling is that there are basically five emotional love languages—five ways that people speak and understand emotional love. In the field of linguistics a language may have numerous dialects or variations. Similarly, within the five basic emotional love languages, there are many dialects…. The important thing is to speak the love language of your spouse.”
This simple realization is way more complicated when I tell you that Words of Affirmation (which is my partner’s love language), ranked at the bottom, having the lowest scores of all 5 love languages on my quiz results. This means the way I show love and affection are completely different from the way he does. While realizing this seems like a huge deal to me, it also means we are going to have to work on learning each other’s languages if we want to stay together in a loving and caring relationship.
I know that’s a lot of work and maybe you’d say relationships shouldn’t be so hard; we could just stay together and let this thing we have run its course. That’s easier, right? But it’s also something that we don’t want.
“Real love” – “This kind of love is emotional in nature but not obsessional. It is a love that unites reason and emotion. It involves an act of the will and requires discipline, and it recognizes the need for personal growth.”
Think about the ways in which you express love to your partner.
Does he respond positively when you do it? Observe how he/she acts when he/she shows you that they care. Observing your loved one will reveal so much about their love language. If you wish to learn about your language of love, simply observe what it is that you complain the most about. If you wish your partner helped you more around the house but instead he looks you in the eyes and compliments you on something, which only makes you angrier at him, your love language is probably somewhere along the line of Acts of service. His, however, are most likely the Words of affirmation. (I made a generalisation here, to make it easier to understand.)
Although you can figure it out on your own, I would still encourage you to take the test (click here) and learn more about your primary love language.
If you think about it, doesn’t it all make sense?
There’s really no scientific proof behind The 5 love languages theory, but yet it works. It works because it is relatable. Whether your partner sometimes does something you don’t understand or your friends and family seem strange and from a different planet from time to time, I really think this book can be of help. By learning your love language, you will be able to understand better the language and dialects your partner speaks. You will become better equipped and empathetic, which will result in a stronger bond and healthier relationship.
When we learn about our blind spots, we can understand those around us better. Their behaviours, once the source of fighting, can thus become normal and acceptable if we understand that they are coming from a place of love. I really recommend this book to everyone. And though it may look simple, trust me, there’s a lot anyone could learn from The 5 Love Languages.
As far as my partner and I go, well, we’ve never been in a better place, actually.
We make it work, because we try to understand that love is not something that happens, but it’s something we create.
This article is part of a series titled ‘A letter to you’. You can read more articles by clicking here!
Have a wonderful love-talk and please, share your thoughts and experiences with me in the comments below or via email (firstname.lastname@example.org) if you’d rather not share your experiences publicly.
The book by Gary Chapman: The 5 Love Languages is available also on Amazon.