Open and honest communication is the key to successful relationships. But what do you do when you don’t speak the same love language?
My wife and I recently started reading The Five Love Languages by Dr. Gary Chapman. We do this on road trips, sometimes, where she reads aloud while I drive. Though I must say we rarely actually finish the books we start.
This particular road-trip was in celebration of our anniversary. I was able to surprise her with a wonderful anniversary present, something she wasn’t at all expecting. She actually started crying at the joy and surprise of it. I love doing things for her that make her feel special, things that make me feel needed, and things that express my “love language,” which is apparently, acts of service.
Over the years we’ve discovered that we both have different needs, and that we don’t always give love in the same way that we most naturally receive it. Either can be challenging, to say the least. Dr. Chapman says that marriages often end because spouses are speaking the wrong love languages to one another. And in most cases they don’t even realize it.
I’m certainly not a doctor of anything, and my own marriage is a work-in-progress. But my experience has been that in order to have success in any relationship, it all boils down to understanding the other’s needs and expectations. This is true of any relationship, be it marriage, an employee-employer relationship, or salesperson to customer relationship.
In order to understand the other person’s needs, one must engage in open and honest communication. When my wife tells me her “love tank” is getting empty it means I’ve not been giving her the compliments and the words of affirmation that she needs to feel loved. It’s not easy for her to say, and not easy for me to hear. Open and honest communication can sometimes be awkward, and even hurt. It’s not a good feeling to know that the love I have for my spouse is not being translated and felt to the same degree.
Unfortunately our marriage certificate didn’t also come with a certificate of being able to communicate mind-to-mind.
Marriage is hard work. As we’re learning to speak each other’s love languages, miscommunication inevitably occurs. After all, we’re taking something emotional, something in the mind and the heart, and attempting to cross the divide between one person and another.
So we read books and blogs, listen to speakers and seminars, and learn about love languages, all in an attempt to make our relationships work. Because it’s the most wonderful miraculous thing in the world to be loved and understood, and to love and understand in return.