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Are You Speaking Your Partner's Language?

“When we feel love and kindness toward others, it not only makes others feel loved and cared for, but it helps us also to develop inner happiness and peace.”

~Dalai Lama

As we end, what some call, the month of love, I’m giving a lot of thought to the many expressions of love. One beauty of humanity is our various shades, unique qualities, characteristics and approaches to life. Some say our differences are often what attracts us to one another. However, in the same breath those differences can be the source of tension, particularly in romantic relationships and especially if those differences are misunderstood.

Learning and understanding your own and your partner’s unique language or expression of love can be influential in maintaining a satisfying relationship. Can you imagine attempting to communicate with your partner about who’s stopping for dinner, in two different languages??? As Gary Chapman, author of The 5 Love Languages, stated “Your emotional love language and the language of your spouse may be as different as Chinese from English.” From this perspective, it’s not so surprising if partners are feeling unloved; you may be speaking two different languages!

Chapman does an excellent job categorizing and helping couples identify the multiple expressions of love that may be present within a relationship. He presents the 5 love languages: Words of Affirmation, Quality Time, Receiving Gifts, Acts of Service, and Physical Touch. Chapman offers a free quiz to discover your love language. He also provides guidance on how to communicate in a love language different from your own and suggestions on what actions to avoid based on your partner’s primary love language. For example, if your partner’s primary love language is receiving gifts, it may be extremely hurtful to forget a birthday or a favorite holiday.

When working with couples, I enjoy facilitating dialogue and creating space for couples to explore, understand, embrace and honor their many differences. As you consider your own and your partner’s unique love languages, here are a few thoughts to ponder:

  • What are the unique ways you express love to others? What about your partner?

  • How do you receive love from others? What about your partner?

  • Do you and your partner express/receive love similarly or completely different?

  • How was love expressed/received in your families growing up?

  • How can being aware of these various expressions impact your relationships (romantic, platonic, familial)?

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