Love In The Time Of Corona
Now, I’m not a relationship coach or expert, just a long-standing inquisitive wife like you. And the question reminded me of something I learned in my coaching training a few years back about communicating and creating more supportive relationships and I think you might find it helpful too.
And when I remembered it, it also brought my husband’s behavior into an altogether new light. I actually MISSED it completely (what with all the cooking, cleaning, cooking, cleaning, cooking, cleaning)…
And that is The 5 Love Languages. A book by Gary Chapman. It’s quite a popular book. If you haven’t read it I recommend you do but here’s the gist:
According to Chapman, each one of us has a “love language” or way we want to express and experience love. And each person has one primary and one secondary love language.
The 5 “languages” are:
Words of affirmation: this language uses words to affirm or praise other people.
Acts of service: for these people, actions speak louder than words.
Receiving gifts: for some people what makes them feel most loved is receiving a gift.
Quality time: this language is all about giving the other person your undivided attention.
Physical touch: to this person, nothing speaks more deeply than touch.
Here’s an easy example:
Words of affirmation: Your coffee is delicious.
Acts of Service: I made you coffee.
Receiving gifts: Here’s a coffee.
Quality time: Let’s go get a coffee.
Physical touch: Let me hold you like a coffee:)
Unfortunately, most couples don’t share the same language and this is where miscommunication; misunderstandings and frustration settle in. Sort of like if you ONLY speak Arabic and your spouse ONLY speaks English. You’re never going to really understand each other.
My 2 top love languages are quality time and receiving gifts. In order for me to FEEL loved I need my husband to carve out special, quality time for me regularly. And bring me lots of gifts. That’s why I love surprise trips (remember travelling?) because those were basically a gift and time all wrapped up in one.
My husband’s love languages are acts of service and words of affirmation. He doesn’t actually know this. He’s never read this book (as far as I know) so this email will be news to him. But when you’ve been married for 24 years and been together for almost 30 years, you know your man.
Like I said, rarely are the 2 languages in any relationship compatible. And even more important is the fact that the language your spouse speaks is the one you LEAST want to learn or express.
Because time and gifts are how I want to be shown love, they’re naturally how I express love too. And while my hubby likes to spend time with me; for me it’s not nearly enough as I need. And every time I buy him an incredibly well thought-out gift; his reaction is disapointingly lukewarm.
Because HIS languages are acts of service and words of affirmation, not because he’s inconsiderate.
That’s why he cleaned the bathroom (service) and boasted about it to get my attention (words of affirmation). This was his way of saying “I love you.”
But acts of service is the LAST thing I want to do for anyone. Especially when it comes to housework. To me, cleaning the bathroom is a duty that needs to be shared. I don’t perceive household duties as an act of love and instead go through an endless cycle of inner eye rolls all the time wondering where my gifts are.
So what do you do when you desire time or gifts? While your spouse needs acts of service or words of affirmation. And you hate service, or giving gifts or whatever language isn’t yours?
You do it anyway.
So when my husband asks me for the millionth time to make him breakfast (hint: if your husband does this, then one of his languages is service); I’m thinking “Why can’t you make it yourself?” Not because I’m selfish but because I make my meals for myself and I don’t feel “loved” if anyone makes them for me. But by getting up and making his breakfast he’s going to perceive this as affirmation that I love him. So I do it (as much as I can).
Because as much as I insist on expressing my love to him using my languages of time and gifts, he simply won’t comprehend them or even see the value. He won’t feel loved and I’ll keep feeling like I’m doing something wrong.
Start by identifying your love languages. You’ll be amazed how you’ve been trying to express love in the way you unconsciously want to receive it. And how you do this day-in day-out only to have your expressions of love fall flat.
Which makes you feel unheard, neglected and unloved.
If you’re not sure what your husband’s love language is, spend some time observing him. And now you actually have the time and space to do this. Watch the way he expresses love to others. What are the things he complains about the most—analyze that. What is he always requesting from you and how often? What do you perceive as nagging? That’s how he’s trying to get your attention (most of the time).
Once you figure it out; demonstrate caring to your spouse in the love language he understands. Even if it’s just once a week. That’s it:)
This was a great reminder of the importance of these languages; especially at a time when your husband is your main source of interaction.
And if your relationship is feeling the strain of close quarters, you owe it to yourselves to take some time to focus on each other in a completely different way so that you can emerge stronger, more in love and more connected instead of being addicted to your phones; arguing and ignoring each other.
Dana Dinnawi is an Integrative Nutrition health coach specializing in empowering women to improve their health and family life. She received her training from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition, where she studied more than one hundred dietary theories and a variety of practical lifestyle coaching methods. She can be reached through her website and Facebook page.