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Valentine’s Day reality check — Are you and your partner speaking the same language?

February 14, 2020 by Kimberly Drake

Most of the time, two people in a relationship speak the same language. Whether that be English, Spanish or Japanese, communication between the pair usually sails along smoothly. However, in a vast majority of relationships, although you both speak the same dialect, there still seems to be a considerable gap in true communication. If this is how it is with your partner, the miscommunication can leave you both feeling like two ships passing in the night, or worse yet, like you’re both missing the boat entirely. 
Although you are fluent in your native tongue, the one dialect you might need to learn in order to close the communication gap is what psychologists refer to as “Love Language.” And if you don’t speak the same love lingo as your partner, resentments can build to the point where no one is getting their needs met, resulting in the relation-ship sinking faster than the Titanic.
What are “love languages?”
Initially described by Dr. Gary Chapman in his book, “The 5 Love Languages,” this emotion-based communication is how a person expresses or experiences the feelings of love with their romantic partner. It can play an integral part in platonic friendships as well. According to Chapman, each person has one primary and one secondary love language.

Receiving gifts
If you have this love language, you tend to feel appreciated when a significant other gives you tokens of affection. These gifts don’t need to be extravagant, just thoughtful. For instance, a bouquet of flowers for no reason or a gift of your favorite treat after a bad day is critical in making you feel like the partnership is on an even keel. If you resonate with this communicative style, the absence of everyday gestures or a missed special occasion is particularly upsetting.

Quality time
When this dialect is your communication of choice, your partner’s presence is very important to you. You may need them to focus on you without distraction and give undivided attention. If this is your language of affection, a partner who is distracted or distant will hurt you the most, as it makes you feel a loss of connection, almost like you’re not in the same boat. 

Words of affirmation
If words of care and concern, compliments and the whispering of sweet nothings in your ears are what equates feelings of affection for you, then words of affirmation is your love talk preference. Simple verbal compliments, the words, “I love you” and expressing feelings is what floats the relationship boat for you, and lack of these things coupled with insults can be particularly detrimental.

Acts of service
If you resonate with this language, actions speak louder than words. The act of cooking, cleaning or running errands without being told, and without an overtone of obligation or negativity, is what generates a warm fuzzy feeling for you. What rocks the boat the most, is when your partner ignores tasks that need to be done or never offers to help.

Physical touch
A reassuring hug, holding hands in public, and a tender kiss on the forehead are examples of this love language spoken loud and clear. If this is your communicative style, physical closeness is what you need to feel a connection with your partner. It doesn’t have to be “touchy-feely,” but the absence of physical contact entirely can make you feel isolated and alone in a relationship.
The key to making sure the love languages spoken between you and your significant other are ship-shape is first to determine what your communicative style is, and what dialect your partner speaks. Dr. Chapman says people tend to naturally give love in the way they prefer to receive it, and better communication between couples can happen when both parties demonstrate affection to the other person in the love language their partner understands.
For example, if a husband’s love language is verbal affirmation, and the wife’s language is acts of service, no matter how many times he tells his wife, he loves her, which is his love language, if he doesn’t do a load of laundry or other such tasks, she will still feel a disconnect, and potential resentment. Instead of doing what he values as a loving gesture, he should recognize what really speaks to her, and do that instead.

How do you figure out your love language and that of your significant other?
Firstly, begin by asking yourself how you like to show affection. Do you give gifts? Give a lot of hugs? Or prefer to accomplish tasks for the other person? Then ask yourself what makes you feel the closest to your partner. Is it when they do dishes? Perhaps when they tell you they love you? Also, try to list out what you always seem to ask of your partner and what it is you find yourself most complaining about in a relationship, both current and those in the past. When assessing the language of your significant other, observe how they show you affection, because most likely that is their love language as well.
For any relationship, married, or not, knowing how your partner expresses and receives affection can bring about a greater understanding and the ability to give them what they need to feel secure and happy. Spending a little time investigating and talking with your partner about how both of your love navigational systems work goes a long way towards the health of your relationship, and ensures you both sail off into the sunset, together.  
Kimberly Drake can be reached at [email protected].

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