The final part of this three part series on improving relationships focusses on the deep structures which determine how we know that we’re loved. While the focus is on relationships between two partners or spouses, these principles apply universally to any kind of relationship between family, friends or colleagues.
Every person has a unique strategy to determine whether or not they are being loved, respected and honored in a relationship. In a book titled, The Five Love languages, Gary Chapman explores these strategies or ways of knowing and expressing love. As far as I know, his is the best and simplest explanation of this phenomenon and so I will be borrowing his theories. In psychology, this aspect of study is called metaprogramming.
The first love language is words of affirmation. In order to feel loved and respected, some people need to be explicitly told so. Every few days, they need to be told that their efforts are appreciated or that they are seen and loved. With my employees, I always make it a point to tell them how grateful I am for their work and it goes a long way.
However, some people are less moved by words and want to feel another’s love through acts of service. This would be something like finishing up the work in the garden, taking the kids out for a run, helping with the dishes and so on. Acts of service are a way to demonstrate love and respect through specific, tangible actions.
The third love language is gifts or special gestures that tell a person you love them and you’re thinking of them. This could be coming home with a bunch of flowers or taking someone out to dinner and so on.
The fourth love language is quality time. For some, all the other stuff is absolutely irrelevant if they don’t get to spend quality time with their loved one. This is a time of complete, undivided attention where you listen to them and they are the center of your experience for that period of time. Such people need to feel a deeper connection in order for them to know they are being heard, loved and honored.
The fifth and final love language is physical touch. Some people need to be constantly hugged and touched in any way that the relationship determines. This is an important way for them to know and remember that they are seen and loved.
Although, all of us like to communicate in a combination of these various love languages, we usually have one that is dominant. Now, in order to bring positive changes to your relationship, you need to determine what your dominant love language is as well as that of your partner. It is often the case that the primary love language you use in a relationship is based on your own love language. For instance, if my love language is quality time, then I will probably go around giving those I love quality time and may not realize that another person would much rather prefer that I demonstrate my love through an act of service. So even through, I feel love and affection for this person, it doesn’t get properly translated to them. This can be a source of dissonance in a relationship.
If you and your partner identify your individual love languages and communicate it to each other, you can both begin to demonstrate your love through the other’s dominant language. If you want to understand more about how this works and how to identify yourself and the people around you, take a look at the book, The Five Love Languages. You will also find online surveys to help you discover what your love language is. If you want to go even deeper, you can read about metaprogramming and how it relates to love and attraction strategies.
This is a great technique to improve your relationships and make both you and your partner feel a deeper sense of love and connection.