Valentine’s Day is almost here and it can be a minefield for many couples. It doesn’t go well for a lot of relationships. One of the reasons it doesn’t go well is that people have different ways of giving and receiving love.
However, most people believe everyone thinks about and shows love in the same way they do. They also believe that if their partner doesn’t do it their way “then they should”. This mistaken belief leads to a lot of misunderstandings, hurt feelings and many break-ups.
In his book “Five Love Languages” Dr. Gary D. Chapman has defined 5 different ways people give and receive love: Words of Affirmation, Quality Time, Acts of Service, Gifts, and Physical Touch. It’s important to understand the love language differences as differences, not moral judgments on right and wrong. None of them are good nor bad – just different.
When couples don’t understand this they can become frustrated, confused and resentful. They get into power struggles, determined to prove their way is the “right” way to think about and show love. But, in a functional relationship no one’s way is better or worse, it’s just not the same as their partners.
This is good news, if there’s no single right way, then there are many right ways each unique to that person. This way of thinking opens up exciting new ways of being creative and expressing yourself.
It takes time and effort to figure this out, to learn and master the language of your partner. So, as Valentine’s Day is here, yet again, why not think about giving a long lasting gift that’s for the both of you?
This year commit to learning how to make your relationship happier and more satisfying in the long term, not just on one day. Put some energy and effort into learning how to love your partner differently, to love him/her better. As Erich Fromm said, “Love is the active concern for the life and the growth of that which we love.”
Nicole Abbott – writer, educator and psycho-therapist