Was Valentine’s Day everything you hoped it would be? Some people have zero expectations. Others may anticipate it with dread because it’s a reminder that they don’t have a special someone to share it with. Still others turn their back on Valentine’s day, calling it a commercial holiday on which the price of flowers and chocolates surge. Still, for many, Valentine’s Day is an opportunity to declare or confirm love towards that special someone.
In my practise, when counselling couples, I often hear from one or the other that they don’t feel loved. “But how can that be!” his or her partner may exclaim. “I tell you I love you all the time.” The reality is however, that just because you are told that you are loved, doesn’t mean that you feel it. In fact, I’ve always felt that saying “I love you” at the end of every phone conversation, for example, becomes nothing more than a salutation and loses its value when used so often and ritualistically. Saying “I love you” in the moment when you actually feel a surge of love towards another may sound more heartfelt and meaningful.
Aside from words, people give and receive love in different ways. For example, making someone you love a special dinner may be more meaningful than buying her a piece of jewellery. However, not for everyone.
After reading Gary Chapmans book, The 5 Love Languages, I became interested in learning more about this relatively simple approach to understanding what matters to each person most when it comes to receiving love. Chapman suggests that each partner determine their own primary love language in order to help his or her partner know how to show love in the most meaningful way. He offers a 30 statement quiz. Each of the statements begin with “Its more meaningful to me when…” followed by two choices alongside a letter from A to E. Each of these letters is associated with a love language.
After circling each of the statements that is most meaningful to you, tabulate the number of A, B, C, D and E’s to determine which of the 5 love languages you are most closely aligned with. So, if you have mostly A’s, your primary love language is Words of Affirmation, B means that quality time is most important to you, mostly C’s and receiving gifts is your primary love language, Acts of Service if you have mostly D’s and E means that your primary love language is physical touch. If you score an equal number of points for 2 or more love languages, for example, then their importance is equally weighted.
After tabulating your scores separately, you would then come together to discuss what you’ve learned. Ideally, if you both speak the same love language, its more likely for you to show love in the way you would like to receive it. So, for example, if you score highest with D’s or Acts of Service, you know how much love you feel from your partner when he offers to bring you breakfast in bed or to give you a back massage and you likely show love in the same way.
However, if your primary love language is quality time but your partner is hardly around, not even on Valentine’s Day, you will not feel loved, even if your partner comes home late with roses or an expensive gift.
Often, when I’m counselling couples, one of the pair might say something like “but you know I’ve never been romantic. I’m not the kind to write something sentimental in a soppy card.” While that may be true, I encourage that person to do something that his or her partner will find more meaningful, even if it goes against his or her nature or it means stepping out of their comfort zone. At the end of the day, its not just important to know what’s meaningful to you, but equally as important to know your partner’s love language so that you can try your best to show love in a way that your partner will find most meaningful.