the 5 love languages | week 4

I am excited to be sharing the final week in my March series on the 5 Love Languages. In Week 1, I gave a basic introduction & overview of the 5 different love languages (available here), in Week 2 (available here) + Week 3 (available here) I looked at each of the five languages much closer & discussed how to determine your primary love language. This week I will be discussing how to determine your spouse's primary love language(s) and how to apply it to your marriage.

Last week I talked about discovering your own primary love language. 
To recap, below are three questions you can ask yourself to more easily discover your primary love language:

1. What does your spouse do or fail to do that hurts you most deeply? The opposite of what hurts you most is probably your love language. 

2. What have you most often requested of your spouse? That thing you have asked for most is likely the thing that would make you feel most loved.

3. In what way do you regularly express love to your spouse? Your method of expressing love may be an indication of what would also make you feel loved.

In the same way you would determine your own primary love language, you would determine your spouse's. 

First off, consider requests:
What does your spouse request most often of you?
Does your husband mention how much it means to him when you fold the laundry or run errands? 
Does your wife ask for more uninterrupted date nights? 
Does your husband request a back rub after work? 
Does your wife share on a regular basis that she has been wanting a love letter? 
Look at your marriage on a daily basis and see what your spouse is requesting of you or talking about most often. That will give you a big clue as to what makes them feel most loved. 

Secondly, consider how love is being shown:
How does your spouse SHOW you love? Does your husband give you gifts often even though it isn't your primary love language? That could mean one of his top love languages is "Receiving Gifts." Does your wife always stay on top of getting the car washed and the house cleaned? Maybe that is because she is trying to show you -- through those acts of service -- how much she loves you and that could indicate her primary love language is "Acts of Service." Regardless of which it is, examine how your spouse is SHOWING love to YOU. We most often express love in the way that we feel most loved. 

Third, try the process of elimination: 
Maybe you know for certain that "Acts of Service" is not your primary love language. That leaves four. Ask yourself, "If I had to give up one of the four, which one would I give up first?" Maybe your answer is "Receiving Gifts." Then ask yourself, "Of the three remaining, if I had to give up another, which one would I give up?" 

In the book Chapman gives the example of a husband using the process of elimination. He eliminates Receiving Gifts right away and then Quality Time. Next, he concludes that apart from sexual intimacy, he could give up Physical Touch (he could get along without hugs and holding hands). This left Acts of Service and Words of Affirmation. While he appreciated the things his wife did for him, he knew that her affirming words were really what gave him life. He could go a whole day on a positive comment from her. Thus, Words of Affirmation was his primary love language and Acts of Service was his secondary love language.

Fourth, ask your spouse:
Whether you are certain as to what your spouse's primary love language is or not, ask them! Go directly to them and have a conversation about it. Better yet, go out for a cup of coffee on a Saturday morning and bring up the topic of love languages. About a year into our dating relationship, Dustin and I spent a lot of time reading the book and then sharing our thoughts and feelings. We both had a good idea as to each other's primary love languages but after a long conversation about it, we could both be sure. You know yourself, maybe better than anyone else knows you. Share with your spouse what yours is and ask them what they think theirs is. And remember -- you can have more than one!

My Primary Love Languages: Words of Affirmation, Receiving Gifts & Quality Time 
Dustin's Primary Love Languages: Physical Touch & Acts of Service

God is creative, isn't He? Of course it would be too easy if we both had the same love languages! God has challenged us in our marriage to love each other in ways that maybe don't come natural to us or that we don't receive the same way. I absolutely love that Dustin and I are totally split in our primaries. It sure makes for a lot of fun!

SO WHAT? Why does this even matter? 

Remember the LOVE TANK from Week 1? The "emotional love tank" that Chapman refers to throughout his book is an indicator of how loved a person is feeling. The need to feel loved unconditionally by one's spouse is at the heart of marital desires. By speaking your spouse's love language, you fill their tank. When they speak yours, they fill your tank. If you are showing love to your spouse in a way that is not their primary love language (such as writing love letters to someone who does not feel fulfilled through Words of Affirmation), their love tank will continue to be low or even empty. But if you begin to show your spouse love in the way that they feel it most, such as when Dustin brings home flowers for me -- receiving gifts -- or writes me a card -- words of affirmation -- or plans a date night -- quality time -- he fills my love tank. 

Once you discover your primary love language and the primary love language of your spouse, you will both become more effective communicators of love in your marriage. When your spouse's emotional love tank is full and he or she feels secure in your love, the whole world looks brighter and you spouse will move out to reach his or her highest potential in life. But when the love tank is empty and he or she does not feel loved, the whole world can seem dark. Often, a person's sense of self-worth is fed by the fact that their spouse loves them. That is why affairs, divorce, etc. are so devastating to a person -- it makes them question if they are worth anything, worthy of being loved. Loving your spouse builds their self-esteem, and enhances a person's sense of significance. We reason, "If someone loves me, I must have significance." 
Above anything, it is most important to know who you are in Christ and your identity should be found in Him alone, but while we are on this earth and in a marriage, our husband plays a pivotal role in building us up, helping us reach our fullest potential and carry out God's plan for our life. 

Finally, remember that love is a choice. No matter what you have gone through -- how hurt or angry you are, how resentful you have become, how bitter you may be, or how deeply broken your marriage is -- you have to make the choice to love your spouse before anything can change. They also have to make the choice to love you. Obviously, this is way easier said than done, but until you realize that love is a choice (and an action) and not just a feeling, you will likely struggle through your marriage. If your actions are based on your hurt or disappointed feelings, it is likely your marriage will remain broken. If you are interested in learning more related to love being a choice, Chapman discusses this in his book significantly and a few weeks ago I did a Marriage Minute titled "Love is a Choice" (available here). 

Love is something you do for someone else, not for yourself. Chapman states, "Love is not the answer to everything, but it creates a climate of security in which we can seek answers to those things that bother us. In the security of love, a couple can discuss differences without condemnation. Conflicts can be resolved. Two people who are different can learn to live together in harmony. We discover how to bring out the best in each other. Those are the rewards of love."

When I choose to love Dustin, I am doing it for him, not for myself. I do not work to fill his love tank so that I will be reciprocated or so that I will benefit. I love him selflessly. I choose to love him in the ways that he feels most loved (in his primary love languages) because that is what God calls me to do as a wife. God calls Dustin to love me in the same way -- selflessly, to lay down his life for me and to put my needs ahead of his own. He does this, not because of what he will gain, but because of what I will gain. See how it works? When I choose to love Dustin and he chooses to love me, we are both being fulfilled in the ways that it means the most. We are able to live together in an environment filled with peace and without strife; we are able to parent alongside one another in agreement; we are able to fellowship with other believers & build relationships in accordance with God's will; we are able to work through disagreements, become better people and ultimately, advance God's kingdom together. 

Isn't that why we got married in the first place? I believed that I could do more for God being married to Dustin than I could do alone. And when I continually choose to love Dustin -- in the ways he feels most loved -- and to fill his "emotional love tank" on a daily basis, that unlocks the door to endless blessings in our marriage! 
If you have a personal story about how learning the 5 love languages has impacted you, I would love to hear from you! If you have any questions, don't hesitate to contact me. And I love your sincere comments, they fill my heart! 

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