A healthy and lasting relationship isn’t built on love alone. It is built on the conscious effort you put in to make it work.
A lot of relationships don’t last, not because the partners don’t love each other, but because they fail to pay attention to the little things that matters. Little things like trying to meet your partner’s needs, being understanding, tolerant, kind, respectful, putting your partner first(subject to circumstances), making sacrifices and so on. A lot of people overlook these little things in their relationship and think that love is enough to sustain them but it doesn’t work that way. Love doesn’t grow on its own. It has to be sustained by doing the little things your partner values.
No doubt, love is very powerful. It can make you do things you never would have imagined. Love is the feeling that keeps the relationship burning but it needs to be nurtured. Fortunately for me, I realized this early enough in my marriage.
I remember when my marriage was just few months old and I realized my husband and I had different eating habits. While he is into eating fruits and veggies, I’d rather reach for a bag of chips. He complains I don’t eat healthy which really got on my nerves. I had almost begun to resent him for that single action till he suggested we go see a nutritionist. We actually saw a nutritionist but I wasn’t really convinced (I’m a little bit stubborn😉) but then I thought “Heck! What’s the big deal? It’s for my own good.” I realized he complained because he cares for me and wanted the best for me and just like that, I felt loved. Now, I can’t stand the thought of eating too much fat. That’s compromise, tolerance and understanding.
As little as this seems, it could have escalated into a huge conflict if we had not put in effort to resolve it.
A proven and vital way to keep your relationship alive and healthy is knowing your partner’s love language. Every one of us has a love language through which we express our love and when spoken to us, makes us feel loved. It is pertinent for both spouse to discover each other’s love language and profess their love through it.
Gary Chapman coined the phrase ‘Love language’ in his book titled The 5 love languages: How to express Heartfelt Commitment to your mate. In this book, Gary Chapman explains how we express and receive love by classifying love languages into 5. Now let’s see what it is about.
WHAT ARE THE 5 LOVE LANGUAGES?
- Words of affirmation
This simply means verbally expressing love, care and affection to your partner. Complimenting and appreciating your partner who has this love language can really go a long way in your relationship. It doesn’t have to be complicated. Statements like “I love your body” “You make me happy” “Thanks for taking the kids out” “I love you so much” will do the trick just fine.
In contrast, negative and insensitive words, insults, will really hurt them and it might take longer to get them to forgive you. If your partner responds to this love language, make sure you put it into practice regularly. My husband knows words have great effects on me and bombards me with it.
For some other people, regularly expressing your love to them might bore them while you get little or no reaction from them. This means it ain’t their love language so try the next one.
- Receiving Gifts.
This doesn’t necessarily have to mean gifting your spouse the whole world. A meaningful or thoughtful gift will do. If your partner has this love language, occasionally gifting them things they love will increase your love in their hearts. It could be something as little as ice-cream or flowers or surprising them with a lovely home date. Doing these things will show you are thinking of them and make them feel loved and appreciated.
I once heard the story of a young couple who eventually went their separate ways because the husband wouldn’t buy the wife gifts. He didn’t see it as a big deal while the wife, on the other hand, wouldn’t stop nagging about it. It escalated into something bigger, thereby resulting to their separation. The point to note is to learn to also speak your Partner’s love language.
Exchanging gifts is generally a natural way to enhance love in all kinds of relationship. This act is so powerful that it can rekindle the spark in a rocky relationship. This is because the heart is fragile and loves being appreciated. So if you’ve not been doing this, start now.
- Acts of Service.
Acts of Service are thoughtful actions you perform that your spouse finds really pleasing and appreciates. It is the expression of love and affection through actions. Actions that shows your partner you care for them without going verbal. Actions like doing the dishes, cooking a meal, breakfast in bed, doing the laundry, cleaning the house, filling their car with gas without their knowledge and so on. If acts of service is not your love language but you have a partner who speaks this language, do not make it an excuse for not reciprocating their acts of service.
A close friend once confided in me that her husband doesn’t do anything in the house or even tries to help. He’d rather go hungry than help cooking the meal or doing the dishes. “I feel he doesn’t love me enough to care. He just wouldn’t help no matter what I do or say” She lamented.
Your partner might have a different love language to yours but you have a duty to speak theirs too. In doing so, they won’t feel unloved or neglected just as the case of my friend.
- Quality Time.
This means giving undivided attention. Doing away with all kinds of distractions and focusing on your partner alone. Dedicating time for just the two of you. This should be normal but a lot of people are addicted to their smart phones, television and other gadgets. If you fall into this category, you need to make extra effort to be attentive to your spouse. If your partner speaks this love language, they always want to be the center of your attraction. While you are with them, being distracted might make them feel unloved.
Cancelling a date or not being present at an important function can be extremely hurtful as your partner will feel they’re not important to you.
Sharing quality time with your spouse is essential and can be quite the dream relationship. Even if this is not your love language, do not make it an excuse to neglect your spouse.
- Physical Touch.
If this is your Partner’s love language, it means nothing is as important to them as physical touch. They always want to be hugged, kissed, in fact, holding their hand can also work. They have high skin hunger thereby wanting to always feel you close by, snuggling and cuddling.
People like this mostly do not fancy sex toys such as glass dildo. What they want is the physical touch and not some toy. If your partner is like this, no amount of words or gifts or toys would replace physical touch.
Lastly, it is important to know that understanding your partner’s love language alone ain’t enough, you have to reciprocate them. A relationship in which both partners speak each other’s love language will most likely survive hard times. You should not hide under the fact that you have a different love language and neglect your spouse’s needs because in the end, that’s what a healthy and happy relationship is built on. Understanding, sacrifices, compromise, respect, tolerance, kindness and all the positive things you can think of, doing away with the negative ones.