Tony outed me yesterday for being bi-lingual. It’s true, I do speak Spanish, though I am not as fluent as my husband thinks I am. I’m sure I could carry on a conversation with Dora the Explorer but probably would struggle if Pope Francis wanted to speak to me in his native language.
As far as being multi-lingual, I also speak sarcasm, baby snuggles, old Friends episodes, and comfortable silences. I’ve even learned to speak a little bit of HTML code from my husband. Now that I’ve impressed you with my many languages, I should probably share that I do not speak German, guilt trips, baseball, or teenage girl. So, while there are things that are easy for me to understand, there are plenty of things that are still very difficult, and the same goes with the Love Languages.
We’ve shared so far about three of the five Love Languages. Wait, have you still not taken the Love Languages Test? Ok, here’s the link, do it now.
Keep in mind that, while it’s helpful to know the Love Languages that come most naturally to you, it’s even better to understand the ones that are important to your spouse. Throughout the last couple of days, and really this entire 31 Day series, one of the goals has been to learn new ways to love each other better. We believe we can accomplish this not by necessarily trying to be happier ourselves and get what we want our of our marriages, but instead by seeking to serve and love each other more intentionally.
Today I’ll share with you about my primary Love Languages: Words of Affirmation and Quality Time.
Words of Affirmation
Mark Twain once said, “I can live for two months on a good compliment.” I know the feeling, Mr. Twain, and if I’m honest I need a lot more than that. If Words of Affirmation is not your primary Love Language, it is easy to dismiss this one and believe that your spouse already knows how you feel about them without having to say it all the time. I remember seeing an old comic where the husband says, “I told her I loved her on our wedding day. I’ll let her know if anything changes.” It’s funny, but in reality, especially if this is at the top for them, that’s just not going to work. Compliments, kind words, and little encouragements shared often can go a long way to helping ensure that your partner feels loved.
In Chapman’s book, he says:
Encouragement requires empathy and seeing the world from your spouse’s perspective. We must first learn what is important to our spouse. Only then can we give encouragement. With verbal encouragement, we are trying to communicate, “I know. I care. I am with you. How can I help?” We are trying to show that we believe in him (or her) and his abilities. We are giving credit and praise.
Tony knows what is important to me. For my very first Mother’s Day, he bought me a new car stereo and had it installed. It was really nice, had bluetooth capabilities, and sounded great. The stereo wasn’t on any kind of wish list, it was one of those gifts I wouldn’t have thought of for myself, but loved it once I got it. Still, along with the gift he wrote me a lengthy note on the inside of the card, taking up both the left and right sides, and that note was more than enough for me! We could have returned the stereo that day and I would have still been over the moon feeling all of the love and appreciation from my husband. His words about what a great wife and mother I was, details about the things I do for him and our baby that mean so much to him, still bring a few tears to my eyes. He was thoughtful and specific, and he wrote it all down!
However, if he only shared encouraging words with me on special occasions, it would be hard for me to feel that “full love tank” feeling that Gary Chapman talks about in The Five Love Languages. In order for my love tank to remain at a decent level, it’s important that Tony shares encouraging words with me somewhat regularly, and he does. He texts me almost every day to check in and tell me that he loves me, or that he’s enjoying the leftovers I made for lunch, or just that he’s thinking loving things about me. His opinion of me means more than anyone else’s, so when he encourages me it holds much more weight than anything anyone else might say. He recently told me, “I’m so proud of you for this blog! I just wish it wasn’t called a ‘blog’ – everyone has a blog. I wish we could call them articles or something better. I love what you write, and I think it’s important.” Believe me, I’m still floating from that conversation.
If your spouse’s primary Love Language is Words of Affirmation, here are some things you can do to show love:
– Say “I love you” and “Please” and “Thank You” every day.
– Be specific when you compliment them. Instead of, “You look nice,” you could say, “I love your hair like that!”
– Say nice things about them to other people. It usually gets back to them and then you get double points!
– Don’t forget to write something special in the card that goes with the gift.
– Think of sticky notes as a pack of hundreds of inexpensive love notes and use them often.
– Express appreciation for the things they do and the strengths you see in them.
The time Tony and I spend together has always been important to me. When I learned that “Quality Time” was one of my top Love Languages, I was not at all surprised. Just being together, whether it’s with Tony or any one of my friends, is one of the ways I most feel connected. There is this thing about time that cannot be escaped – we all have the exact same amount of it. So, how we choose to spend our time and who we spend it with says a lot to me. I could buy 15 gifts online and have them shipped to 15 different people in the same day without ever leaving my desk if I wanted to communicate that I was thinking of them. But, I couldn’t possibly spend a decent amount of time with each of those 15 people as efficiently. Quality time isn’t about efficiency, it is about being present and available and when someone wants to be present and available to me, it makes me feel valued and loved.
Quality time does not mean we must spend our moments gazing into each other’s eyes. It may mean doing something together that we both enjoy. The particular activity is secondary, only a means to creating the sense of togetherness. The important thing is not the activity itself but the emotions that are created between both.
Now that we have kids, quality time for just Tony and I is a little bit harder to come by. We can be in the same room for a couple of hours and never finish three uninterrupted sentences between us. It is hard to connect with each other while our girls are around monopolizing all of the air time. We make an effort, teaching them to wait while mommy talks to daddy, but it is not the same as the time we spend without them. This is why purposed dates, whether we stay in or go out, are so vital to our relationship! I shared some date night ideas here and Tony shared why he takes me on dates here and they both really come back to communicating love through Quality Time.
If your spouse’s primary Love Language is Quality Time, here are some other ways you can express love:
– Plan a date and ask them out. The planning itself will communicate thoughtfulness and love much more than winging it.
– Create a “Fancy Night In.” If you have kids, plan to spend this time together after they go to bed. Pull out the candles and the tablecloth and your nice dishes. Even if you’re having take out or dessert from a box, these sparkly details can set an above average mood for both of you.
– Take a walk in your neighborhood. Leave your phones at home, hold hands, and enjoy a little time strolling for no particular reason.
– Block out time in your calendar. Even without specific plans, it is easy for us to allow other people and events to gobble up our time. Make sure you are making time with your spouse, even time at home with the kids, the priority over other people’s social needs.
– Take a trip. Even an overnight in the closest city can do a lot to replenish any feelings of disconnect.
Whether this has been your first exposure to Gary Chapman and The Five Love Languages, or simply a refresher, we hope you’ve enjoyed the last few days of posts. Communicating love in a way that our spouse understands it and not just in the way that comes most naturally to us is a wonderful way to sacrifice a little bit of ourselves and love them on purpose. We would love to hear of other ways you have learned to communicate love using one another’s love languages. Feel free to share in the comments below– we can always use more inspiration to #staymarried.
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