Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good. Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other. Romans 12:9-10
Maybe this scenario sounds familiar:
My husband had offered to stay home with the kids so that I could head to a coffee shop and have an evening to myself. I was feeling great as I walked back into the kitchen after the blessing of a night out. But suddenly, my love tank went from Full to Empty. My soul immediately did a nosedive when I saw the pile of supper dishes unwashed and piled in the sink, and I stood and stared at them. Nathan greeted me in the kitchen, excited to greet his refreshed wife. Unfortunately, that’s not who he found, as I struggled to keep my face and tone positive and cheerful. (I don’t have a good poker face.) So he was perplexed. He couldn’t help but wonder, “How can a small pile of dirty dishes completely cancel out a whole evening alone?”
Have you ever been in a similar situation?
Are You Fluent?
Learning how to speak your spouse’s love language is crucial. We are knocking on almost two decades of marriage and we are still figuring out how to fully speak each other’s love language. Giving and showing love is like all forms of communication. What is ultimately important is “did my audience receive and feel love by my actions and words?”
In other words, I can say the exact right thing, but it’s all for nothing if the person doesn’t understand my message. In the same way, if we are trying to express love to our spouse but they interpret it differently it will leave us both confused, frustrated and feeling unloved. To further complicate things, each one of us has different ways of expressing love and different expectations of how we expect to be shown love.
Five Love Languages
Author and Speaker Dr. Gary Chapman has tried to help us learn how to speak each other’s love language. Although every human likes to receive love in a multitude of unique and different ways, he has boiled them down into 5 categories.
- Words of Affirmation
- Acts of Service
- Receiving Gifts
- Quality Time
- Physical Touch
If you don’t know what your top ones are you can go here to take the quick and easy quiz. If you don’t know your spouse’s, have them take it too!
To Be Known
In Genesis 1:27 it says, “So God created human beings in his own image. In the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.” In this way we are all the same-we are all made in the image of God. In Psalm 139 it states, “You (God) made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother’s womb. Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvelous-how well I know it.” In this way we are so completely different! God made each one of us unique. We are all wired differently and need to be loved in different ways.
In a marriage relationship we want to be known. We want our spouse to know who we are and what we need. The first step is to know your spouse’s primary and secondary love language. Can you list your honey’s top two? If not, this will be your first step in learning how to love them well.
To Be Heard
The only way to get better at loving your spouse is to have a conversation. Communication is key to a healthy marriage. Asking questions and giving honest answers is essential to having a thriving marriage. We all desire to have a spouse who cares enough to listen- actively listen to our needs, wants and desires. This builds unity and trust which will open the door to us becoming a truer version of ourselves.
It is okay to ask your spouse what they need and how they want you to express your love for them. On the flip side it is okay to tell your spouse what you need. In an idealistic, romantic world our spouses would just magically know what we need without us telling them. Unfortunately we do not live in this type of world! Only God knows how to reach our hearts and truly love us.
Now, it is true that our spouse has access to the Holy Spirit and has the ability to tap into the all-knowing God, but most of us are still learning how to listen and obey that inner voice. In the meantime, help your spouse out! Don’t play games. Let them in on how to best love you.
To Be Understood
First we have to know what our spouse’s primary languages are, but I would argue that the more important step comes next. It is one thing to know your spouse’s language; it is another to understand it and speak it fluently. Having knowledge and doing something with that knowledge are two different things.
A healthy marriage will take the information and apply it to future situations. Learning your spouse’s love language takes time, effort and actions. Time to learn about their differences. Effort to learn what “love” means to them. Action to put all the information into practice. Action shows that you understand and care enough to love them in a way that reaches their heart. It shows that you will do whatever it takes to make sure you stay connected and have their needs met.
Do you understand how to express your love in a way that the other person feels it? Take the time to learn specific ways to show love to your spouse. It will help you prioritize and do the things that really matter first versus wasting time on things that could be good but are not best.
Take 10 minutes tonight to read through this post, take the quiz, and discuss the results with your spouse. Find the top two love languages for each of you. Try to give your spouse specific examples on how you would feel the most loved in these areas. And listen to their ideas also. Maybe this Valentine’s Day instead of guessing you can really love your spouse in their own way.
**Spoiler Alert- Love languages can change. Different seasons of life do require different languages to speak louder than others. If you haven’t taken the quiz in the last few years we recommend you take it again in case yours has unknowingly shifted.