The end of relationship struggles: give LOVE this Xmas (Just get the language right…)

Christmas time.

Time to be merry…

…and purchase gifts.

I mean, that’s the blatant imperative every way I turn. It started early too. One local store was selling Christmas gift wrap even before the Halloween merchandise had come out!

Even so, an awful lot of us will experience a last-minute shopping panic when we realize we still haven’t got (X Loved One) a (special) gift.

Are we missing something?

Leaving aside tradition and social obligations, gifts are ways in which we show our love and care for others.

Elementary. But does it work?

Are gifts a good way to give and receive love?

According to Dr. Gary Chapman, for some people, it’s the best way!

The author of “The 5 Love Languages” suggests that there are five different “love languages”, i.e. practical ways in which we communicate love. We may prefer a particular way of showing love to another person, and we will also more readily recognize and receive a loving gesture as such, and feel more loved, based on that same preference.

For some people, what makes them feel most loved is to receive a gift.

We generally offer loving gestures in the same way we like to receive loving gestures, in our preferred “love language”.

The person, then, who feels loved when receiving a gift is very easy to spot. Typically, this is the one who enjoys buying gifts for others and will treat friends, family members, colleagues to little (or bigger) somethings, not necessarily limited to special occasions.

For these people, gifts really are love made manifest.

If we dismiss their gesture with something like “Oh, you shouldn’t have, it really wasn’t necessary!”, our dismissal will feel especially hurtful to them, as though we’re rejecting them and their love.

So, what are the other four love languages?

In addition to Receiving Gifts, we may feel loved primarily through:

    Words of Affirmation

Do you need to hear the words “I love you” in order to feel truly loved? Do you light up when you receive praise and words of recognition and appreciation? Do you feel reassured just by talking to your partner?

    Acts of Service

Do you feel nurtured and loved when your partner helps around the house, or supports you in other, practical ways? Do you notice and feel reassured when he or she takes initiative and gets things done to make your life easier / more pleasant / more impactful / add value in a way that is important to you?

    Quality Time

Do you long for time dedicated to the two of you? Do you feel more love when you’re sharing activities or relaxing together? Do you relish his or her undivided attention?

    Physical Touch

Does physical intimacy mean the most to you? Do you long for your partner’s loving touch, more than any words, gifts, time or anything else? Do you feel more loved and loving when you’re closer physically?

You probably have a pretty good idea of your own preferences by now – hopefully, your partner’s too! You may enjoy taking the test on the 5 Love Languages website and compare notes.

The point Dr. Chapman is making is to become sensitive to our differing ways of giving and receiving love in order to enjoy more harmonious and lasting relationships.

It may seem simplistic — and, in some ways, it is — but the 5 Love Languages model is surprisingly deep:

I’ve seen countless couples suffer relationship struggles: arguments and distancing, feeling loss of attraction and having little or no sex. They simply failed to recognize that they “speak different love languages”, eventually suffering what I would call a “breakdown of loving energy exchange”.

As the loving energy failed to be communicated and exchanged between them, partners started to experience all kinds of problems, including “sexual issues”, which really boiled down to feelings of lovelessness and lack of appreciation and nurture.

It does take a bit of effort to learn to “speak love” in another person’s love language:

“Words of Affirmation” may seem totally meaningless, as far as true love goes, for someone whose primary love language is “Physical Touch” or “Acts of Service”, for example. Making love or cooking dinner may be far more persuasive to them, respectively, than all the loving words in the world and coming up with beautiful words to say in earnest will possibly not be so easy.

Conversely, neither the lovemaking nor dinner will reach and open the heart of the one who longs to hear loving words of affirmation before all else, in order to feel cherished. He or she may recoil at the suggestion of physical intimacy and may have little interest in dinner. In turn, by not recognizing and receiving the partner’s loving intention, the “current of love” is interrupted, intimacy suffers and troubles ensue…

As long as there’s understanding and willingness, however, it’s possible to make adjustments and feel that flow of love that will sustain and deepen our connection.

As partners, we can offer each other loving gestures in ways that are more readily received. We are able to recognize a love offering as such and receive it gracefully, so that our mutual needs to love and to be loved can be fulfilled more harmoniously.

I’ve seen distanced partners start to feel appreciated and loved, moving back to gorgeous intimacy, through this simple insight.

There’s more, of course, where this comes from:

Dr. Chapman also explains the importance of forgiveness and our different languages of apology (yes, we have those too!) and, besides Dr. Chapman’s, there are several other insightful typologies (energetic, archetypical, perceptual) and empathic ways to communicate that I love to explore in sessions with great results.

I’ll write more about all this in due course, so watch this space…

At the very least, you have some food for thought, whilst you’re doing all that Christmas shopping!

Want more ways to connect and share the love?

My love and Christmas blessings to you…

P.S. Do write and share your thoughts, questions, experiences. I’d love to hear from you and to help you enjoy the life and love you truly deserve.