A few posts ago, we examined two secrets to a great relationship. If you are looking at strengthening your relationship with that special someone, or really anyone in your life, I suggest you give it a look. After I published that post, there was a lot of reaction. It always makes me happy to have engagement with anything I write. One particular comment brought to attention another very important aspect of a great relationship. If you seriously implement this one relationship tool, it will improve your outlook on your partner and their outlook on you. There will not even be a need for any awkward conversations.
There was a particular comment that brought up a really good point. The young lady shared the secret from turning frustration in her relationship into appreciation. Sounds like it could be an impossible task, but it is easier than you think. In fact, it only takes learning one thing. One of the most frustrating things in a relationship is when you feel your partner does not show enough affection. When you feel you are saying or doing all the right things and they seem unaffected. The only frustration that ranks a close second is when your partner says you are doing the same thing. Quite often, it is not affection that is missing from these relationships, but communication. Even if there is a lot of talking going on, we can often be speaking different languages. Can you imagine trying to solve a problem in a relationship if you spoke Zulu and your partner spoke…let us say French? How easy to you think it would be to understand and appreciate each other’s point of view? How about making each other feel loved or feeling loved yourself?
You might be saying, “Neil, both my partner and I speak the same language, but there still feels like a lack of love.” You might speak the same language, but do you speak the same Love Language? There is a great book called The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman. I don’t get a commission on sales, but I would recommend getting your hands on a copy. You will learn a lot about yourself and your partner. You will learn the five ways in which people express love. Maybe you are someone who is more verbal (Neil) and you are good with putting your feelings into words. Perhaps you are someone who is more physical (Margie) and instead of some long-winded monologue comparing your growing love to a blossoming flower, you just want to come up and wrap your arms around the person you love. They are both expressing love, but in different ways. Add to that the other 3 languages and you can see how tricky this can get. Do you want to really blow your mind? People do not often express and receive love in the same language. They can express their love verbally, but like to feel it physically. Maybe it is the opposite? Maybe it involves acts of service? How about spending quality time with your partner? Maybe even receiving a gift? If your partner and you speak different love languages, it can often seem as different as Zulu and French.
Just like personality, where your partner can be more silly and you express your humor in a more stoic fashion. Once you realize and acknowledge your differences, you can help balance each other out and help grow and discover different parts of yourself you may have neglected. When Margie and I discovered our different love languages, it really helped us not only understand the communication coming from each other, but how best to communicate with each other. Doing the little exercises in the book The Five Love Languages did involve a little amount of work, but it was fun and exciting work. Discovering how both you and your partner speak and receive love can be one of the most rewarding experiences. It can also help you avoid many miscommunications in the future and help you remedy any disagreements a lot quicker. Imagine having the knowledge of “I know how to make my partner feel loved.” in your head? What a great tool to have!
Here are good friends of Margie and me, Chris and Nicci. Also, the couple that provided the inspiration for this post. Something that Nicci said in her comment is so true. It really made the difference in their relationship, it really made a difference between Margie and I when we implemented it, and I know it will help take your relationship to the next level. She mentioned when they really experienced joy and contentment in their relationship was when they stop looking for each other to express love in specific ways and turned their attention to finding the way that each other was already expressing love that they might be missing. It is important to both look for how your partner does express love and letting them know, lovingly I might add, how you really feel love. If your partner brings you flowers to show they love you and that works for you, great. If they change the oil in your car so you are safe and don’t have to worry about having it done, that is expressing love and caring too. I cannot express how much fun discovering each other’s love languages can be. It worked for Margie and I. It worked for Chris and Nicci. It will work for you as well. Instead of feeling frustrated your partner isn’t exactly as you would like them to be, look for the treasure they have that is already there. You might be missing a lot of love they are expressing.