A couple of years ago, I made a resolution to take the time to read The 5 Love Languages by Gary Chapman. If you’ve never heard of the 5 love languages, they are: words of affirmation, acts of service, receiving gifts, quality time, and physical touch (you can take the quiz to find out your love language here). Each person is different and likes to show and receive love in different ways. Sometimes our love language is different from that of our spouse which can make it challenging to connect, communicate, and show each other we care.
From my own personal experience (and from what I’ve seen in other relationships), it seems that differing love languages contribute to a vast majority of issues that most couples have. Anything from lack of intimacy to being annoyed that your husband doesn’t do the dishes. These all fall under a particular love language and if you and your partner happen to speak different languages, then most times it’s going to cause some sort of problem or disconnect in your relationship. While this may sound like a larger problem, I promise it’s 100% manageable as long as you both know and understand each other’s languages.
When Zack and I got married, I spent so much time upset that he didn’t hug and kiss me as often as I wanted him to. I was also upset that he wasn’t big on sharing his feelings or saying “I love you” or “I appreciate you”. In fact, these things are still “problems” sometimes even after three years of marriage. At the time, I couldn’t understand what I was doing wrong. I mean, I thought I was pretty lovable. I had never been with someone who wasn’t a cuddly person so the amount of frustration and confusion I experienced in those first few months of marriage was insane.
We had eloped just two and a half months into dating long distance which I knew was fast, but at this point, I was starting to wonder if maybe was too fast. Maybe it had been a mistake. This thought completely crushed me as I knew deep down that I was in fact with the man I was supposed to be with for the rest of my life. I just knew it. And choosing to get married was something I took very seriously. I wasn’t about to give up on my marriage just two months after moving in with him and only five months of being married. That was crazy to me.
So I starting thinking about it a lot and even consulted a couple of friends and eventually, it led me to the five love languages. After taking the quiz, reading the book, and furthering my knowledge on the topic, I came to the conclusion that we just had different love languages. Our issue had nothing to do with whether or not we loved each other and it didn’t mean we were incompatible either. We just weren’t speaking the same language in terms of how we showed and received love.
It’s important to know how to show your spouse you love them in a way they understand. I sat down with him and told him exactly how I was feeling. I was feeling distant as if I had been doing something wrong. You could tell we had different love languages because to him we were perfectly fine. He couldn’t understand why I was feeling that way. And it wasn’t because he was a bad husband or I was a bad wife, it was simply because we didn’t fully understand each other yet. We didn’t know how to show each other we cared.
Even now, three years later, we still check in with one another to make sure all of our needs are met. In fact, we just did this back in November and again a couple of weeks ago. If one of us feels something lacking, then we bring it up and talk about it. We find ways to make it better and we’re always finding new ways to connect with one another. And that alone makes such a huge difference.
After taking the love languages quiz online in those first few months of marriage, I had discovered that my love languages are ‘words of affirmation’ and ‘physical touch’. These two languages are so important to me. It makes my day when I can come home and cuddle up on the couch with him or when he kisses me unexpectedly or tells me he loves and appreciates me. So, naturally, that’s how I try to show him love too…But it doesn’t always work. Zack isn’t the super cuddly, lovey-dovey kind of person. So he doesn’t need the hand holding or random kisses and cuddles. In fact, he hates them! And that’s okay. It’s okay that he doesn’t show love the same way I do.
I didn’t have Zack take the quiz, but in that first year of marriage, I learned that he responds best to ‘acts of service’ and ‘words of affirmation’ (thankfully we have words of affirmation in common so that helps!). He likes coming home to a clean house, and dinner ready and on the table, and when I bring him food and coffee while he’s at work. He likes when I remember to pick up his favorite snacks at the grocery store or when I take the time to groom the dog. He loves thoughtfulness.
After our most recent check-in, I also discovered that the fact that I’m still here, consistently working on our marriage and continuing to love and support him is enough for him to know that I love him and want our marriage to work. Even though he loves hearing that he’s appreciated and loves when I do things for him without being asked, he really doesn’t even need those things. All he needs is for me to be here. So his needs love-wise are much simpler than mine are.
Since he’s more of an ‘acts of service’ kind of person, he shows me he cares by helping me with bills or cleaning the house for me when he knows I’m stressed, or cooking dinner for me when I’m tired or busy with work. He’ll check in with me on his way home from work to see if I need anything and he’ll bring me breakfast or coffee in bed when I’m too lazy to get up. Recently he’s given up drinking since I can’t drink while pregnant and he’s even started getting back into shape and making healthier choices as well. All of those seemingly little things that he does are all things that he does for me. That’s how he shows me he loves and cares about me.
While everything he does for me is so loved and appreciated, he also knows how important it is to me that we have that physical connection as well and he goes above and beyond there. I know it’s outside of his comfort zone sometimes and yet he still lets me cuddle with him whenever I want and he’ll suck it up and hug me when I need it. He’s still not a fan of dealing with tears, but what guy is? That one’s still a work in progress. But the fact that I can see how hard he’s trying makes all the difference in the world.
Understanding the five love languages has made a huge difference in my marriage and the way Zack and I interact with one another. I’ve learned that it’s okay to have a different love language than your spouse. It doesn’t, in any way, mean you’re not compatible or that your marriage is doomed to fail. It just means you show love differently. Marriage is hard work and this is just one of the many things that contribute to it.
Do you and your significant other have different love languages?