Last week, during my online party for Honey, I Don’t Have a Headache Tonight, I started a bunch of conversations both here and on Twitter and Facebook.
And one thing that kept coming up was love languages.
So my question to you today is: Do you know your husband’s love language?
For those of you who don’t have a clue what we’re talking about, let me explain. We all tend to want to receive love in a certain kind of way. We have preferences that determine whether or not something says “I love you”. The five possible love languages are:
3. Words of Affirmation
5. Gifts of Service (doing something for someone).
Before you can figure out what your husband’s love language is, it’s good to figure out what yours is. Here’s why: we tend to give love in the same way that we want to receive it. So if you’re a huggy bear, chances are you hug everyone in sight, and want them to do the same for you.
So perhaps you’re hugging your husband all the time, and you feel like therefore you are showing him love. So why isn’t he reciprocating? What is wrong with him?
What may be going on, though, is that he may not be receiving it as love. He may even find it a mild irritant. So we need to know what makes his clock tick, and be aware of where we may be tempted to love in a way that he doesn’t necessarily understand.
It took me a long time to figure out my own love language. I always thought it was touch, because I love being hugged. But I think that’s something that’s common to a lot of women. What really speaks to my heart, though, are words of affirmation. When he tells me that he thinks I’m beautiful, or he likes my writing, or he thinks I’m a great mother, that does wonders for me.
It turns out that his is the same thing, but I didn’t realize that, either. I always thought it was touch, because men seem so interested in–well, you know. But he needs to hear words of affirmation, too.
When we were first married, though, the words that I said to him didn’t necessarily affirm him. I was constantly saying, “I love you”, or “I think you’re a great husband”, or later on, “you’re such a great dad”.
But one day, when we were talking, he got exasperated with me and said, “but why do you love me? Why do you think I’m a great husband?” What he needed was not just to know my thoughts, but to know what lay behind them. When I started to say, “you’re such a great dad with the way you play with the kids,” or “Rebecca just loves the way you take time to listen to her,” he felt affirmed.
He needed to hear the why, and not just the what. I’ve now learned that when he’s really down, it’s even more important to say these things.
I have a friend whose husband love language is gifts. He just loves choosing the perfect gift for people. He loves giving more than receiving. But she couldn’t care less about gifts, so she doesn’t put the same kind of effort into it. When he gives her something incredible for Christmas, she likes it, but she’s not in heaven or anything. But when she just gives him a gift card to a favourite store, he’s devastated. It says to him, “you weren’t worth putting any thought into this year.”
So she’s learned now to think carefully about gifts for him, and to start studying him to find out what would be a good gift. It goes against her natural bent, but she’s had to learn so that he can feel loved.
If you’re not sure of your husband’s love language, why not read The Five Love Languages? You can even read it together for Valentine’s Day. But this year, try to speak his language!
Now, you may be thinking: why should I speak his if he doesn’t speak mine? But let’s remember that marriage is not about manipulating him into doing what we want. It’s about learning how to love. And ironically, often the best way to get our own needs met is to meet his! That doesn’t mean that we meet his needs in order to get him to do something; it’s just that when we act in a selfless way, and show love to him, he feels appreciated. He feels valued. He feels loved. And when he feels loved, he’s more likely to reach out to you, too.But even if he doesn’t, you are still acting in a loving manner, and learning how to serve. And that pays dividends all on its own!
Now, do you have some marriage advice you want to share? Have you had an interesting time working out your love languages? Why not join us for this discussion? Just leave your link in the comments below!