One of Nico’s kindergarten teachers threw me last week when she started talking about The Five Love Languages. Heard of this one? If you haven’t, here’s the premise: one of the main reasons we’re so unhappy in our marriages is because we don’t speak the same language as our spouse.
But author Gary Chapman gives us a tool to fix that, and he does so by figuring out how we best communicate. Which, as you might already have guessed, might not mean the same thing for you and your spouse.
Here are Chapman’s Five Love Languages:
1. Words of Affirmation (“I love you,” “you rock,” etc.)
2. Quality Time (turning off the TV/phone and really listening, etc.)
3. Receiving Gifts (buying a CD your spouse knew you wanted, etc.)
4. Acts of Service (taking the car in for an oil change, cooking dinner, etc.)
5. Physical Touch (hugs, holding hands, etc.)
Which one best describes you? Which best describes your spouse?
Here’s an example of how easily our communication goes wrong: while you might be hoping that your honey’s going to show you how much he cares by sitting down and listening to you kvetch about your day, he might be thinking that a hug and a kiss are the way to your heart. So when he gets up to go do something else when you start talking, boy are you gonna be peeved. And he’s not going to get it, because he’s probably thinking: What the hell? I just hugged and kissed her, for cripes sake!
See where I’m going here? Neither one of you feels connected, and the next thing you know, you’re pissed as hell and your day (which was going pretty goddamn well up until 5 minutes ago, thank you very much) now sucks the big wazoo.
It’d be pretty funny if it didn’t suck so much. And that connection piece is just so damn important, you know? In my (cough) expert opinion, it’s a good 80-90% of the reason why we fight so much–because a) we don’t feel connected to our partner and b) we want to.
The way out of this, according to Chapman, is to make sure we’re speaking to our spouse in their language, not ours. Tricky, huh? It’s not enough that we’re doing our best to reach out and connect to our spouse, but now we have to do it on their terms as well?
And I’ll admit it–I’m guilty of this one. I mean, shiitte, I’m a writer for jimmeny sake. So how you think I want to be addressed? With words, people, words! Which means I torment my family in the exact same manner, despite the fact that it might not be right for them.
(Although when I just shared this realization with Ken, he started grunting like an ape. Which was funnier than you might think, considering we’re in the midst of another round of kitchen-craziness this week and needed a good laugh.)
Anywho. One last thing and I’ll let you get on with your day. I’d thought about applying this concept to my relationship with Ken, but hadn’t thought beyond that until Nico’s teacher started talking to me about this book. She uses the same concepts with her students, to see how she can best connect with them.
Isn’t that cool? To think that we can take this concept and apply it to everyone else in our lives. In all our copious free time, that is.