When taking care of a garden, we need to know what a plant needs in order to best care for it. Give some plants too little water and our harvest will dry up. Give other plants too much sun and they will not grow. Knowing your plants is important.
Likewise, to care for a marriage partnership, we need to know our partner. Many couples, before they are married, spend a lot of time getting to know each other. This is wonderful. And a lot of fun. But once they are married, many couples no longer do this. (Spending time and getting to know each other.) Over time, they drift apart. This is too bad.
My wife and I, to best care for our marriage, make every effort to know and understand each other. We do this daily. We do this so that love can be nurtured. We never stop learning. There is always something new to learn. The more we know, the better we can care for and nourish one another.
One of the most helpful ways to know each other is to learn to speak one another’s ‘love language’. Not like speaking English or Japanese, a love language is the way a person experiences and receives love. Speaking the right language helps our spouse to know that they are loved.
In The Five Love Languages by Dr. Gary Chapman, five ways of receiving love are explained. They are words of affirmation, acts of service, receiving gifts, quality time, and physical touch. Here is a brief summary of each language. (Published in both English and Japanese, reading it would be a good way to care for your marriage.)
Words of affirmation: Verbally letting your spouse know that you appreciate them. Acknowledging the things they do, be they for you, your family or for work. A person whose love language is words of affirmation needs to hear love spoken to them.
Acts of service: Receiving help or assistance means a lot to a person with this love language. Helping with projects and chores, or keeping a promise to do what you say you will do are ways this person experiences love.
Receiving gifts: It could be as small as a bouquet of flowers or as big as a vacation trip, this person experiences love when they receive things. Home-made or store-bought, it doesn’t matter. Receiving a gift is how love is spoken.
Quality time: This type of love is expressed through giving your spouse your full attention. By letting them know that you are focused on them, listening to them, and understanding them. Quality time lets your spouse know that they are important enough for you to make time for.
Physical touch: A gentle touch to the shoulder or a hug at the end of the day. This person feels most loved when they receive physical touch. Words like “You are special to me” are fully comprehended when accompanied by touch. (Guys, physical touch is not the same thing as sex.)
Knowing which love language your spouse speaks will greatly impact your marriage. For example, if my love language is words of affirmation, then hearing my wife say, “Thanks for taking the kids to the park today. You are a good father,” means more to me then having her fold my laundry. (Though I like that, too.) Likewise, if my wife’s love language is quality time, sitting down together on the couch and asking about her day means more to her than my buying her a necklace.
Learning to speak the correct language is like providing the right amount of sunshine for your tomatoes. Tomatoes love sunlight, they need it to grow. Put them in a shady spot and you will have little fruit.
Speak the correct love language in your marriage and you will flourish! There will be less miscommunication and more meaningful communication. Put effort into learning your partner’s language, and then actively decide to ‘speak’ it with your partner. A new language takes time to learn, and it is not easy, but you will be amazed to watch your partner and your marriage grow when you do.
The more you know your spouse, the more your marriage will grow!
What is your love language? What is your partner’s?
Next time: Talk with each other