Love Languages: How to Improve Communication in Relationships
In his book, The Five Love Languages, author Gary Chapman theorizes that people tend to naturally give love in the way that they prefer to receive love, and better communication between couples can be accomplished when one can demonstrate caring to the other person in the love language the recipient understands. He outlines the basic love languages asreceiving gifts, quality time, words of affirmation, acts of service (devotion), and physical touch.
In my opinion, the underlying message of the book is that “your spouse thinks differently.” Don’t do what would make you feel good, find out what makes them feel good. The problem is, most of us aren’t very good in figuring this out. Why is this?
Breaking Through the Noise
In a perfect world, the classic communication model for a couple works like this: One person has a need that they encode and send to the partner who decodes the message and fulfills the requirement. If this process is done correctly, the partner’s corresponding love language is identical to the original request.
However, we don’t live in a perfect world. That is why the communication model also incorporates a barrier between the sender and receiver. This can be called noise, static, interference, etc. Basically, it can be anything that interferes with the transmission of the original request. The “noise” barrier can distort the original message and lead to a series of MIS-steps: Misinterpretation, Misinformation, Misunderstanding and Mistakes.
To be successful, the couple has to overcome this message distortion barrier and deliver love to each other in the language that is preferred by their partner.
Crystal Clear Transmissions
If you look back, you will see that this process works much better during the courtship stage of a relationship. Why? Because we are working harder to reduce the “static” in the communication model. We are curious, motivated and focused on meeting our partner’s needs in the love language they prefer. Our powers of observation are at their peak. Marriage, setting up a household, having children and time itself have a way of increasing the communication barriers while decreasing observation and motivation. In other words, we take our relationship for granted and begin to coast.
Communication Barriers: Learn the Love Languages
Getaways are a great way to thin out the communication barriers. In a relaxing setting, there are no chores, no children and no job pressures. Allow a couple of days if you can to let the stress dissipate. Concentrate on each other, observe and focus.
No time to get away? Here’s another simple way to find out what your partner’s favorite love language is…just ask them! It’s not cheating. Why keep guessing and missing? Just say, “What can I do for you to make you feel special/loved?” Having the playbook in advance makes it so much easier to connect.
Whether it’s a gift for no reason, a quiet conversation, washing the dishes, holding hands or simply saying, “I love you,” the languages of love speak loudest when an effort is made to customize and fine-tune them for just one special person.
Reading the Signs
If you and your partner are still not speaking the same language, our counselors can help you bush up on your translation skills and get on the same page. We would be happy to talk with you.