I came across that headline the other day when searching for something completely unrelated.
I couldn’t stop but think – is that really a question that we need to be asking ourselves? Doesn’t every young heart know that it happened when it skipped a beat one too many times in a day? Doesn’t every body recognize the signs? Your face turns red, your palms start getting sweaty, butterflies in your stomach – all before the person of interest even had a chance to turn around and lay eyes on you.
We all know once we are in love that we are in love. We know the signs. There is no question about it.
And the list goes on and on, right? Going back to my original question, though – is that really the question we should be asking ourselves?
Shouldn’t we instead be asking, how do you know that you love him/her?
Isn’t THAT the part that truly matters in life?
How do you know that you successfully moved from that ‘in love’ phase to the ‘I love you’ phase? The cycle of falling in love and falling out of love happens several times in a lifetime for most people. The in-love phase most often is rather short-lived and cannot sustain a long-term relationship. If you have been in a long-term relationship with someone, or have been married more than a day, you know I’m right.
Saying ‘I love you’ means knowing the truth and despite it all, deciding to stay. It means I love you now and I will never stop loving you. It means making a conscious decision to keep showing up. If that’s not what “I love you” means, I don’t know what does.
We first talked about what the five love languages actually are. [The initial posts in this 3-part series may be found here and here. I divided them into two parts – give yourself some time to review that before you go on here. Much of this will NOT make much sense if you don’t.]
Now, the question is – Why are we talking about this anyway? Why does it matter?
The linguist in me ever so clearly sees THIS (once a linguist, always a linguist):
Using the inappropriate love language with your spouse is like talking to a French man in Chinese.
Unless one or both of them are proficient in the other person’s language, they are never going to be able to communicate their issues because they are unable to connect.
Or, like I mentioned earlier, uttering the words I love you to someone even if it were a million times a day will not mean a thing unless their love language is words of affirmation.
You have to realize that when talking to the French man in Chinese, you are wasting your time.
And your time could be much better spent if you, in fact, started learning their language and using that in conversation instead.
This would be both for your own wellness and for the wellness of your relationship.
So, where does that leave us?
First of all, you and I have to know what our spouse’s love language is.
And then, you put it to work.
When in doubt, you ask them. It’s really easy.
Now, remember that only because at one point in your life together their top two love languages were A and B, that doesn’t necessarily mean that that’s what they are today.
Or even less so, that that’s what they are going to be twenty years from now.
As life circumstances change, so may our love languages.
And there is nothing wrong with that.
Again, when in doubt, investigate — Your best resource (AKA the expert) is standing right in front of you.
Pay attention to the things they are doing for you and learn from that.
More often than not, it is a good indicator of what they want done.
We often tend to use the love language that we prefer for our loved ones. Particularly before we realize the whole story of love languages.
So whatever our spouses are doing (or not doing) is valuable Intel.
Don’t ignore it.
And lastly, you will have heard talk of love tanks.
If you want a happy spouse whose love tank regularly gets refilled as needed, you and I want to take what we find to heart. I guarantee you will see the difference it makes.
Let me leave you with this (going back to the languages analogy from before, if you don’t mind):
The point in knowing your spouse’s love language is NOT that you will continue yelling “I love you” in Chinese, over and over and over again.
It’s that you will learn how to say it in French and then start saying that.
And yes, French may be hard for you.
And it may not come naturally.
And it may not be something you care all that much about.
You may never have spoken French to anyone before, ever.
You may be just fine living your life in Chinese.
Yes, and…. if you care and want to make sure that your spouse knows what it is your have been ‘yelling’ at them in whatever the foreign language of your choice is — you. will. learn. their way.
We are continuing our conversation about what love languages are and why it matters. If you would like to see the first part of this, click here. This is the second of three parts, the last may be found here.]
For people whose love language this is, the meaning of love comes out of the things a person does. It’s as simple as that.
Lately, in our household, the line ‘that is my love language right there’ for my husband has included my putting away the girls’ clothes in the drawers, nicely paired up in outfits so as to make them ready for the morning, easily accessible.
No thinking necessary.
No time wasted.
This one goes back to the saying you have no doubt heard at some point in your life: Actions speak louder than words. You can tell the person you love them a 100x a day but it really isn’t saying anything.
The words, to them, are empty.
Hollow, if you will.
Or – if they are not completely empty, they are not actually charged with love unless paired up with meaningful ‘content’. And that ‘content’ is action-related.
If this is your spouse, try it out. If you don’t know what to do – what they would like for you to help with, it’s really easy.
I assure you they will have an idea or two right off the top of their head – that is – if you don’t already see an ongoing list pinned to the refrigerator with your name on it.
When most people hear physical touch, they think sex. Or intimacy in the bedroom. Or whatever you call the activities that happen behind closed doors.
While sexual intercourse is definitely part of physical touch, it is most definitely not ALL of it when it comes to our present discussion of love languages.
It’s the hugs.
It’s the kisses.
It’s the embraces on the couch that have absolutely nothing to do with foreplay.
It’s the playing with your feet while you are filling each other in on how the day went.
It’s the walking arm-in-arm when you are on a stroll downtown.
It’s the gently touching your side while moving you over so the other person can get into a drawer you might be blocking, instead of saying out loud: can you move?
It’s the gentle poke in the side as you pass them at a party, trying to not disturb the conversation.
It’s the pats or rubs on the back – whether in private or in public – that simply say: Hey, I am still here. And I care and love you deeply.
If you know that physical touch is the way to speak love to your other half, it’s the physical proximity that matters. It’s the energy that is created when your skin touches theirs. That’s what speaks volumes.
And when done right, you are guaranteed to see happy dances happening with greater frequency.
If quality time is your spouse’s pick, then listen here.
What you need to do is show up, be there and be present – with all your heart, mind, body and soul. You may need to plan a getaway too. Make it a surprise one – if they like surprises, that is.
Make it a walk or a coffee break.
Make it a conversation on the heated kitchen floor with hot chocolate in your hands. And pop-corn. (or skip the pop-corn :-))
Let it be a phone call in the middle of the day where you reserve the conference room so that you will not be interrupted. Give your partner your undivided attention. Make certain they know that they are more important to you than the text message that just came through, the like you just received or the TV show that’s on.
Whatever option it is you decide to choose, be sure to make it a regular occurrence. And I am not saying – once a year – though you may argue that’s also regular occurrence.
For your spouse to have abundance of love in her/his love reservoir, quality time – much like dates – cannot happen just three times a year – Your two birthdays and an anniversary.
There needs to be more.
I have no doubt that you can make it happen and you will see the difference when you do.
Sometimes I even stumble upon it during an ordinary conversation with a friend.
So, I decided today that I would put together a tip sheet for any of you that have (or will now have) asked yourselves that exact same question.
Here they are — in no particular order.
Though quite self-explanatory, some of us (and yes, you did read that right J) hear the other person saying I love you when the perfect gift shows up at the door.
Better yet, when it shows up out of nowhere, completely catching you by surprise.
It’s the ways that our spouse notices the things we mention and makes a mental note so as not to forget when the time comes and they are in need of a gift idea.
That same is true for other family members or your friends.
Maybe it’s for a birthday.
Maybe it’s at Christmas.
And maybe it’s just a plain day in the middle of a random week when it seems like the other person could use a pick-me-up of sorts.
Or it’s just an ordinary day when none of those things above happen to be true.
Either way, I believe that most people who belong in this category would agree that one doesn’t need to spend tons of money on gifts for them to hit the spot.
Rather, when it comes to gifts, it is the grandiosity of the gesture, the thoughtfulness and the attention to detail that make all the difference.
It’s the – I was on my way home from work – and I drove by this place that I KNOW you LOVE – I had to park the car quick and get something for you.
It’s the – I found your favorite set of pens (on sale) on amazon and had them sent to your place of work.
It’s the – Something someone said at work made me think of you and this is why – bouquet of flowers.
Or a new pair of mittens because you know they lost one of their favorite ones.
The more you know your partner, the more this should be a no-brainer. If it’s not – or if you just met – ask them about it.
And what would make an ideal gift in their opinion.
You may be surprised – and you may not.
Either way, once you know what it is, it will be all the more easy to act on it. And find just the right thing.
While all of these love languages are communicating the same message of I love you, people whose love language are the words of affirmation would say that nothing tells them better that you love them than the words themselves (and the meaning behind it, of course.)
You can add your own spin on them, you can flower them up as you like – or better yet – as you know your partner likes it.
But the bottom line – your spouse likes for you to actually have the words come out of your mouth.
So they don’t have to read between the lines.
Have you heard that story of the old Scandinavian man, who after much complaint, finally turned and said to his wife – “I had told you I loved you on our wedding day and I would let you know if anything changes”?
Have you heard that one?
Yeah, well, if your love language is words of affirmation, that – right there – ain’t gonna cut it.
Outside of whispering the three magic words, it would also be safe to say that when you have an individual that falls into this category, they appreciate praise.
Or any sort of kind word.
Or gratitude and appreciation.
I myself might know one or two closely.
In that case, you might want to take the time and notice the things they are doing.
You may also find it informative to pay attention to the things that they are saying to you – AND – use those as prime examples of what to say back to them.
Learn to use their own “weapon” for your advantage.
It will be like magic.
Now, if you would like to know what the next three are – AKA – For Part II of this series, click HERE. The last piece that takes us to why we should care about any of this – AKA – Part III, click HERE.
Pet Peeves. You know what I am talking about, those tiny little things that make you want to cringe. EVERY time. They ALMOST go unnoticed, but they don’t. We all know what ours are and maybe even have somewhat of a clue what our partner would say theirs are in return. The question is – What do you and I do about them? Do you know, and I mean, REALLY know, why they actually bother the heck out of you?
A therapist colleague of mine came up with a meticulous list that he collected over three weeks from clients’ complaints. He even went so far as to specify how each qualified for the extra-annoying category. Clever, what can I say.
Here is a dozen. I had to share. Take a look at some of my favorites. Some, I hope, may even be reason for a chuckle.
Extra annoying—being so absorbed as to not answer when spoken to.
Extra annoying—you had asked them to get some and they forgot.
Extra annoying—you’re already late or lost.
Extra annoying—they hate being woken up themselves.
Extra annoying—getting mad at you for inquiring or reminding them.
Extra annoying—they’re champions at Tetris.
Extra annoying—getting annoyed at you for waking them up to complain.
Extra annoying—accusing you of not caring when you’ve already missed the train.
Extra annoying—you’re already asleep.
Extra annoying—claiming they still plan to read an article from the nineties.
Extra annoying—you didn’t realize they were still wet.
Extra annoying—getting annoyed at you when they can’t find a clean glass.
We all have a list. You and me both. Now, that’s no surprise. Whether it’s fifty shades of them or seventy five. The real question here is – what do you do about it? Have you found a system that works? How do you find a system? Do you talk to your best friend or do you present them to the offender with the goal & hope that he/she might single- handedly try to minimize the side effects or bring the extra annoying ones down a level to just regular annoying?
Have you ever thought about what it is about any one of these pet peeves that drives you so crazy? And if you have, indeed, thought about it, have you kept your conclusions to yourself or have you brought them up for discussion?
Couples generally don’t get divorced over huge issues or disagreements. It is the little things. It’s what’s underneath the surface that matters most. And that – you and your partner – may have to just good old-fashioned talk about.
For entire list/ article, click here: http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-squeaky-wheel/201302/how-survive-50-common-marital-pet-peeves
There is always a conversation to be had. The only question is – is it happening in your head or out loud? How many bullet points do you have in your head at any given time? Topics you think or, better yet, KNOW that you need to bring up for discussion.
If you are the parent, it’s YOUR responsibility to start. No matter how hard or how easy the topic, unless you have a chatter-box of a kid, you are going to need to start the conversation. If you are unable to share your thoughts, feelings and opinions/responses, your kids will make all sorts of assumptions about what that means for them.
Your kids – they learn from you. All the time. Whether you notice them watching or not.
They will pick up what you are laying down. They will learn what topics are off the table. They will quickly figure out what time is not appropriate or that there simply is no appropriate time. They will train themselves at perfecting the art of silence if that’s what you are throwing their way.
Communication matters. It always has and always will.
And I am not talking text. Or FB message. In fact, I am quite opposed to the use of the above mentioned devices if you are saying more than the permissible “I’m running late”, “In a meeting” or “On my way”. When misused, it can create a havoc. When used in conjunction with face-to-face communication, it may not be quite as harmful.
And I trust this will not come as a surprise — this applies to couples just as much with only one distinction: The responsibility is shared.
So much of this has become a regular part of couples’ intake sessions lately. More often than not, one or both of the partners have a complaint related to technology use or abuse.
Phone or Facetime is also not ideal but it is the next best thing to good old-fashioned, in-person, real-time conversation.
Think about it.
Summer time, wedding time. If you are considering marriage or have already crossed over to the infamous pre marriage questions stage – Here is what I have to say:
Get married all you want.
But for crying out out, DO NOT make the single most significant decision of your life with pink-colored glasses still on.
It would be equivalent to making a major life decision while you are high. Or drunk. Or feverish and shaking. Or post-surgery or during your first months of recovery. You get the point, yes? Nobody in their right mind would do that, right?
When people approach me to let me know that they are getting married, asking for advice, I always ask them this one thing. Actually, I take that back. It’s two.
The first thing is this:
Tell me at least three things that you do not like about your husband/wife to be. This. Is. Key.
You know you are out of the lovey-dovey stage – the one I described above where you are still completely enamored and wearing those pink-colored glasses even in your sleep – when you can, in fact, tell me several things that are not to your liking about the other person.
Things you disagree on. Things that bother you. They don’t have to be life & death sort of issues. They don’t have to be things that make or break the deal. (In fact, they shouldn’t be that).
I JUST want to know that you realized by now that this person whom you are considering to spend your life with, is by no means, nor ever will they be, perfect.
Because reality is, they are NOT. They may curse too much. Eat sloppily. Snore in their sleep. Forget to take the trash out. Never clean the bathroom. Forget to notice things or bring you flowers. Always expect you to take care of the bill. Or buy groceries. Leave their clothes all over their apartment. Forget to open the door for you.
When you take those glasses off and are able to take a realistic look at the other person, you are on your way. Then I want to know that the imperfections that you found (much like I hope this happens the other way around and your partner sees some in you) you are consciously able to live with. And if you are not, or if you are questioning them, let’s bring that to the table.
The second thing is this:
Have you had a fight yet? I know, it might sound weird. Aren’t we supposed NOT to fight? Isn’t that how we know we are perfect for each other?
Actually, no. It’s actually really significant. Have you experienced a fight yet? Or are you still tiptoeing around, trying to impress the other person at the cost of your own comfort or well-being, making no noise, hoping that you won’t upset the equilibrium?
Have you seen yourself respond to your partner’s bad mood? Have they been able to bring up one of your bad habits? Are you able to resolve things to your liking? To where you are still good with each other while not crossing each other’s boundaries?
There is a misconception out there that goes like this: If you love someone, you shouldn’t have to fight. Not only is that unrealistic, it’s also unhealthy. Any two people living in close proximity over time will get into disagreements from time to time. The difference is – Can you deal with the reality, can you tolerate it and do you know how to fight well.
If you can positively respond to both of these two questions, you have met my minimum requirements.
To read more about my approach to pre marriage questions and counseling, please visit my PREMARITAL COUNSELING PAGE dedicated precisely to that topic. I’m all about making certain that when you walk down the isle, you are READY and YOU KNOW IT.
If you have other pre marriage questions that I have not answered here, or you have questions about how you can get to this place of passing the minimum requirements, feel free to SCHEDULE AN INITIAL PHONE CONSULTATION HERE and let’s talk.
Maybe you don’t really know where to go from here – I’d love to help you figure out what to do next. Again, here’s the LINK to schedule a complimentary 30 min phone session & we’ll talk soon.