In order to embrace love, you have to first know how your partner shows it to you. Once you know this, you’ll see your partner for who they are instead of how you want them to be.
Gary Chapman wrote a groundbreaking book called “The 5 Love Languages,” where he identifies the 5 most common ways that people feel loved. These are:
- Physical affection
- Words of affirmation
- Quality time
- Acts of service
I encourage you to read his book or research the 5 love languages online to understand them more deeply. In fact, do this with your partner so you can both be on the same page.
Once you identify your’s and your partner’s top 2 love languages, the author suggests you make it your goal to show your partner love in the way(s) they like it, because that’s how they FEEL loved.
I believe this is a fabulous place to start, but I think it can be taken to another level.
I used to lament that he didn’t naturally shower me with love and affection, and when we talked about it, he said “It’s not that I don’t want to, it just doesn’t come naturally and never crosses my mind.”
In this instance, I could’ve been hurt and upset that my husband wouldn’t take the time to prioritize showing me more physical affection. I could’ve taken it personally and decided he didn’t want to put in the effort. However, that felt more like an ego response, because I know my husband loves me deeply. He shows me in so many other ways, but I was being rigid by only recognizing it through the lens of physical affection.
That’s when I realized that I was going about it all wrong.
Instead of asking my husband to change, I can instead choose to accept love how he naturally shows it. When he goes grocery shopping, does yard work, makes me coffee, asks to watch a show with me – these are his way of saying I Love You. Who was I to say show me love my way?
I enjoy the work of Esther Perel, and she speaks to how we expect our partner to be the one to give us everything we need, want, and desire when we used to have an entire village that offered all these supports. I feel this can also apply in this instance.
Physical affection/body contact/touching can be actualized in many ways and doesn’t need to only come from a lover. I’m delighted to experience this love language in other ways, such as the embrace of a friend, partner dancing, and snuggling with my child.
I’m not powerless here. If I want physical affection, I ask for it, in which case my husband’s happy to offer me his lips, his arms, and his undivided attention. We all have strengths, and it can be too easy to focus on what you’re not getting instead of all the wonderful things your partner does offer.
“The 5 Love Languages” were instrumental in teaching me about how people prefer to show/receive love, and I’m grateful for it. In the end, we all want to be loved and seen for who we are, and I think loving the ways our partner shows us their love is a great place to be start.
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