There are many theories about how we can improve our marriage and ignite passion. One of the most popular was developed by psychologist Gary Chapman, the author of The Five Languages of Love. According to author Gary Chapman, couples will communicate more effectively if they gain insight into their primary way of desiring expressions of love. They can also request that their partner to demonstrate love in this fashion. He explains that deep inside every hurting couple exists an invisible “emotional love tank” which has its gauge on empty.
Chapman explains that the miscommunication, criticism, harsh words, and withdrawal that goes on between couples occurs because of one or both of their empty love tanks. The way to fill up your partner’s tank is to communicate with them through their love language and let them know which of these languages is your preferred means of communication.
In other words, you can keep your “emotional love tank” full, if you identify your primary love language. First, ask yourself: what does my spouse do or fail to do that hurts me most deeply? The opposite of what hurts you most is probably your love language. Then, ask yourself: what have I most often requested from my partner? For example, if you are most likely to request time with him or her, your love language is most likely “Quality Time.”
In a nutshell, your method of expressing love is usually evidence of what will make you feel loved in return. In The Five Languages of Love, Chapman explains that people have a tendency to desire and express love in one of five ways:
- Words of Affirmation
- Quality Time
- Receiving Gifts
- Acts of Service
- Physical Touch
Chapman suggests that spouses need more sensitivity so they can help to keep their partners “emotional love tank” full. For instance, since my husband Craig’s primary love language is “Physical Touch,” we give each other a hug and a six second kiss a few times a day. This improves our communication and brings him satisfaction. On the other hand, my primary love language is “Acts of Service” and I enjoy cooking meals and running errands for my family. This brings everyone pleasure and they appreciate my love of cooking and serving food for them. It’s the way I show love and it brings us all joy!
Quality time with a partner can become a ritual for couples. Examples are eating meals together or going for a daily walk. All of these things cement positive communication. Comments such as “I appreciate how thoughtful you were when you made me dinner” are ways to express love to partners who desire “Words of affirmation.” Finally, gifts can include small tokens of appreciation such as notes, flowers, and handmade crafts.
For most people, physical touch is a powerful way to promote positive communication and to show your love and affection to your partner. It’s important for couples to connect through touch that is non-sexual on a daily basis. A loving touch is completely different from a sexual touch, and when people confuse the two, it can be detrimental to a marriage. For example, if a couple isn’t getting along and a partner attempts to have sex, it is like saying, “I don’t like you, but I want to have sex with you to satisfy my needs.” Yet, when partners frequently touch each other in non-sexual ways, it conveys tenderness and love.
Follow Terry here: Twitter, Facebook, and, movingpastdivorce.com. Terry’s award winning book Daughters of Divorce: Overcome the Legacy of Your Parents’ Breakup and Enjoy a Happy, Long-Lasting Relationship is available on her website.
Terry’s forthcoming book, The Remarriage Manual: How to Make Everything Work Better the Second Time Around, was published by Sounds True in February of 2020.