Speaking my Language

My mother, sister, and I moved in with my grandparents when I was three years old, after my parents’ separation. My grandparents are from Mexico, immigrated to the US when my mother was just a little girl. Spanish is their primary language and, though I was just a toddler, it was not mine. My sister and I only spoke and understood English. My grandparents speak English also, but they are much more comfortable with Spanish. It’s their daily parlance, it’s how they talk with each other and to their friends. So, in come these little blue and green-eyed girls who are totally baffled by their language and really only respond when they speak to us in our language.

By the time I was five, I was fairly fluent in Spanish. I understood most of what my family was saying and even mustered up the courage to join in a conversation here and there. I remember how patient both my grandparents were as my sister and I ate breakfast with them. They sat together, having their usual over breakfast conversations and I constantly interrupted. “What does ‘allamayhor’ mean? What is that word? Wait, how do you say ‘yellow’?” So patient, they would stop their conversation and teach me. I was eager to learn, proud of myself when I began to grasp it. Learning to speak Spanish opened up a whole other world for me and I loved it. I even began to have dreams in Spanish and they say that’s one of the signs of fluency. Speaking their native language made me feel closer to my grandparents, whom I call “Lita” and “Lito.”

Do you ever feel like your spouse has their own language that you are on the outside of? Like you are learning how to speak “Husband” only to be misinterpreted or accidentally use the wrong phrase? Well, you might not be too far off. According to marriage expert and author Dr. Gary Chapman, there are Five Love Languages , and if we want to grow closer to our spouses, it’s pretty important that we at least learn theirs.

According to his book, these are the Five Love Languages:
1. Words of Affirmation
2. Quality Time
3. Receiving Gifts
4. Acts of Service
5. Physical Touch

You can take this quiz online to find out your primary love languages.

Now, you really should read the book. His insights are incredible, far deeper than anything I can sum up in a blog. But, I will share this with you:  You and your spouse most likely show and receive love using just two out of these five languages. Not that they aren’t all important, or that you don’t use them all at varying degrees, but your primary love languages are the ones in which you most easily receive and express  love.

Also, it’s likely that your primary love languages and the primary love languages of our spouse are not the same. Not the same! What that means is that you might be speaking love to him in Spanish and forget that his primary language is English – he doesn’t feel loved! I know. CRAZY! So, for starters, take the quiz. Ask your spouse to take it also. Then, when you find out what your love languages are, think together of ways you can communicate love to each other. Don’t concentrate on the fact that your language is “Words of Affirmation” and you’re married to a woman who is quiet and solitary and hardly talks. DO concentrate on the realization that your wife is “Acts of Service” and begin SHOWING your love to her by getting the oil changed on the car instead of telling her all about it.

As you learn to love your spouse the way they understand love, you will feel closer to them. Your heart will grow for them and your frustration may even go down as you put the pieces together that they may have been trying to show you love all this time, but it was in their own language and not in yours. Begin to concentrate on speaking their language and communicate to your spouse that you are eager to #staymarried.

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2 responses

  • I know that I love it when Barbara realizes I fixed something (which I suck at) and she says “Thanks, honey” … even though Acts of Service is NOT her love language. She realizes I’m trying (just like Michelle at the breakfast table.) Joda was wrong. There is “Try.” Sometimes it is the life line in a marriage.