In his book Gary Chapman details a relatively simple concept. Love your partner they way they need to be loved and teach them what you need, to feel loved. His thoughts are, while we are feeling loved we are more likely to make an effort in our relationships/marriage.
What does it take to achieve this? SELFLESSNESS, not the martyrdom some people exhibit in their relationships where they are constantly telling their partner how much they do for them with nothing for themselves or how much they sacrificed for the sake of the marriage; but a real CHOICE of putting their partners needs first.
In a time where SELF is so important, self esteem, self concept, self image, self control, self love, giving OF our self is becoming a rarity. I recently listen to a man describing how he wanted his relationship to be… “I’ll do this and and she should do that”, “If she’s will do this, then I’ll be willing to do that”… in his mind a relationship is 50/50. Well if they are both only putting 50% what’s happening to the other 50% each?
In the book, couples are encouraged to focus on the partners needs and keeping the partners ‘Love Tank’ topped up… and ALLOWING the partner to do the same for them. Mr. Chapman advises, once you’ve learned your partners love language… speak it… or at least express it. Despite the fact that you cringe at the thought of public displays of affection, if your partner feels loved when you hold his/her hand in public, or put your arm around them while walking down the road… do it! Despite the fact that you were brought up with a strong sense of gender roles, if your partner feels loved when you share the chores… do it!
When asked if this concept wasn’t manipulative… Chapman explains that if you were simply doing it with an ulterior motive in mind, then yes it would be… but the idea of of learning your partners love language and speaking it to them, is CHOOSING to love. You do these things because you love your mate and seeing them happy, makes you happy. How awesome would it be if both partners were doing that?
Mr. Chapman explains his theory of 5 love languages-:
Quality Time – Being a captive audience, devoting time to your partner, from 5 minutes of conversation on the phone, to a weekend away, just the two of you.
Acts of Service – Doing FOR your partner, be it sharing in the chores, or washing the car. Doing something for your partner that they are capable of doing for themselves, but will alleviate their load or just make things a little easier.
Physical Touch – Not so much the sexual side of touch, though this plays a part, but the touch outside of the bedroom… the ‘forehead kiss’, a light arm around the shoulders, holding hands, sitting with a part of the body touching.
Gift Giving – Anything that shows you were thinking of your partner, a candy bar, a diamond ring, season tickets to the game. The price is irrelevant, in this case, it really is the thought that counts.
Words of Encouragement – When people hear good things about themselves, they feel valued. For some, those words not only make them feel valued but they rely on them to feel loved. We often refer to ‘attention seeking’ as being something negative. When understanding Gary Chapman’s theory we see that a person is asking for their love tank to be topped up.
There is no way a few short words here, can convey the concepts of this book in it’s entirety. For those who have not read it, I strongly recommend it… for those that have, I’d like to invite you to share your thoughts on it.