“love is always a choice.”
― Gary Chapman
Love is a fragile thing. Many times people have no clue how fragile of a thing it is until it’s gone. When people think about love, they think of hugging, taking care of their partner, and maybe spending some quality time together. What we don’t think about, is how to keep the novelty alive, how to keep the fires burning. There are so many ways in which we express love, but sometimes the love language expressed isn’t one the other person understands. One person can be speaking the language of caregiving, this is the most common language for a long-term partner, husband, fiance, or boyfriend and the other person is craving some other language. This is when both parties get lost in translation. What happens when the language becomes so ordinary that the other person gets completely lost in your language and finds another’s love language more stimulating? The language of affirmation, excitement, quality time! You should never assume that taking care of your partners is enough to keep them interested, happy, or satisfied. There’s always something more that people crave, sometimes they don’t even know what this craving is until it’s offered to them by someone else, then that Ah-Ha moment hits, and they realize, this is how I want to feel for the rest of my life.
When relationships wane, when the flames begin to turn to amber and no longer burn as brightly as they did before, that hunger becomes even more evident. Sometimes this leads to one person walking away completely from their current relationship to seek out that which they once had with you, in someone else. This may seem selfish but everyone deserves to have his or her needs met, either with you or someone else. Sometimes they’re simply looking for a short-term fix and sometimes they looking for something new and permanent. No matter the situation there are no winners. The person seeking the fire that they once had with a former lover is having to give up the life they knew, to start over. The other person questions the breakdown of that relationship and is left with more questions than answers. The partner entering this new relationship has to work hard in keeping up with the expectations of that new relationship.
We express and receive love in many ways, these are called ‘love languages‘ – a concept created by Dr. Gary Chapman through his long-time work as a marriage counsellor.
Words of Affirmation
When words of affirmation is your love language, words build you up. You thrive on spoken affection, praise, encouragement, and compliments. Harsh words and criticism can bother you for a long time. This was a new experience for me because my love language has always been the ‘act of service’ because I felt as a wife act of services was the most important love language one can express, even more so than those of words of affirmation but we all need affirmations to know what we are still valid in a relationship.
Acts of Service
Anything that your partner does willingly to ease your workload is a sign of love to you. You feel cared for when your partner vacuums before you get to it or makes you breakfast as a surprise. On the other hand, broken promises or laziness can make you feel unimportant.
When you speak this love language, a thoughtful gift shows to you that you are special. In contrast, generic gifts and forgotten special events have the opposite effect. This love language isn’t necessarily materialistic – it could be as simple as receiving your favorite snack after a bad day.
To you, nothing says you’re loved like undivided attention. When your partner is truly present (and not looking at their phone), it makes you feel important. Failure to actively listen or long periods without one-on-one time can make you feel unloved.
Holding hands, kisses, hugs, and other touches are your preferred way to show and receive love. Appropriate touches convey warmth and safety, while physical neglect can drive a wedge between you and your partner.
You may think that you’re speaking the perfect love language but find out later that people change, their needs change, the outlook on life changes, and their deep urge changes. They no longer respond to that same language as they did a year ago, five years ago, 10 years ago. So while you may feel that if it’s been working all these years it should still work now, the truth is, your partner may not feel the same way. Life is about change, as relationships evolve over time, so do the needs and desires of those involved. If dinner and a movie were what stimulated the relationship 10 years ago, it may not be what stimulates the couple now. There are so many factors that can change in a relationship, work, starting a family. Sometimes it may just be the fact of growing apart, which can also happen and no matter what love language is expressed in the relationship, it’s not enough to carry on.
Pinned Message: At the point of realizing that the love language your partner is expressing is one you no longer understand, instead of keeping your distance, an open line of communication should be introduced before completely breaking something that you’ve worked so hard on to building. However, as mentioned previously, sometimes people grow apart and this is something both parties involved must understand and accept.
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©Etta D. Richards