Category: Marriage

5 Love Languages: Words of Affirmation

Words of Affirmation Square2***This is the second post in a series of 6 about the Five Love Languages in marriage. I suggest reading them in order. Part 1

If your husband seems to respond especially well to your compliments, verbal encouragement, or little love notes, Words of Affirmation just might be his love language. When we talk about “speaking” love languages, this is the one where that is literally the main form of expression. 

Do you need to hear “I love you” in order to feel that your spouse really loves you? If words mean a lot to you and you can specifically remember compliments your husband gave you a long time ago, or sweet things he said, this might be your love language. 

What are the different dialects?

Within the love language of Words of Affirmation are several different dialects, or forms of expression.

1. Verbal Compliments

Do you ever offer your spouse Verbal Compliments? Such as, “Hey, thanks for being such a hard worker, it makes me so proud to be your wife.” Or, “You look hot in that suit!” Sometimes, if it is truly sincere, a compliment can light up your entire day. Usually we’re full of compliments when we’re in the “in-love” stage. When we’re dating, we’re quick to point out how good he looks or how hard he works. Somewhere along the line of marriage and falling out of the “in-love” feeling, our compliments often slow down or come to a halt. Bring them back and see how it affects your spouse.

2. Encouraging Words

Another form of this love language is Encouraging Words. Sometimes we just need a pick-me-up when we’re frustrated. A simple, “You’re doing an amazing job, you’ve got this honey!” can sometimes be enough steam to get us to the finish line on a big project. Or maybe your spouse has always wanted to start his own business but has lacked the confidence for a long time. Your encouraging words of, “You would be an incredible business owner, you have the knack for it and you’re determined.” might encourage him to go for it. The trick here is to not encourage your spouse to do something just because you want him to. Thou shalt not use this as a tool of manipulation. Encourage him in his own dreams and you’ll see his attitude change drastically.

3. Kind Words

Kind Words are hard to come by when you’re fighting regularly with your spouse. However, a kind word can be the difference between a total blow-up fight and a calm discussion on a heated topic. Kind words have just as much to do with what you say as how you say it. We all know that tone we get when we’re mad. Mine is sarcastic and condescending. I may not say anything really mean, but the way I say it stings. Such as, after bathing and putting the kids to bed all on my own I might say to my husband, “Thanks for all your help with the kids tonight.” Said in my sarcastic tone is anything but kind and really isn’t going to motivate my husband to help me with the kids. If we choose to use kind words, that means instead of a screaming match, we must choose to keep our voice down, squelch the sarcasm, and seek to understand instead of being understood. 

4. Humble Words

My mother made a comment that has stuck with me throughout my marriage. That is because it explained a deep rooted belief I have about partnership that I didn’t even realize I had. She said, “I never minded being a housewife and doing all the wifey things like cooking, cleaning, and serving your father dinner. It was when it became a demand and simply expected that I stopped wanting to do it.” This explains the dialect Humble Words to a T. As Dr. Chapman says, “Love makes requests, not demands.” We need to learn to humbly request of our spouse instead of demanding. Sometimes demands can come in the form of outright orders or other times they can be implied or sarcastic. We must consciously form our desires into humble requests. Instead of, “Are you ever going to take the garbage out?” or “Seriously, take the garbage out!” We can try, “Do you think you could take the garbage out on your way to work? I would really appreciate it.” I know which form of the request I would be more inclined to carry out. 

Letter 2 squaredHow can I know if this is my or my spouse’s love language?

Dr. Chapman offers a few different ways to check if this is either your or your spouse’s love language. 

1. Do either of you express love in this love language? Is your spouse often offering you compliments or does he seem to have a way with kind words? Do you often try to encourage your spouse through uplifting words? Or do you like to write him love letters? We often express love in our own primary love language. Observe how you each seem to express love and if words seem to be a big part of that.

2. What are your complaints like? Does he often say you are critical or nagging? Do you feel like your husband rarely thanks you verbally for all you do? These are key indicators for which love language you speak that isn’t being spoken. 

3. What kinds of requests do you make? Does he ever say, “Every once in a while I would just like to hear the words, thank you.” Or do you tell him, “Remember when we were dating and you used to tell me how beautiful I was? I wish you would tell me that sometimes.” 

How can I express it?

So let’s say you have discovered that your spouse’s love language might be Words of Affirmation. How do you speak it then?

Here are a few ideas:

•     Try saying positive things about your spouse to other people, both when he is there and when he is not. This not only helps to remind you why you love your spouse but it will boost his love tank knowing that you are confident verbalizing why you love him to more than just him. 

•     Try your hand at writing him a note or a love letter. I love to write letters! I feel like it helps me express myself better than just speaking because it provides extra time to transform my thoughts and emotions into words. A love letter can be read over and over and over again. If you don’t feel like you can write an entire letter, try a small note. Even a post it on the bathroom mirror that says, “Have a great day! I love you!” can help your spouse feel loved and give his attitude a boost that day.

•     Work on reining in your nagging or critical comments. These are especially hurtful to a spouse whose love language is Words of Affirmation. Try replacing them with positive, encouraging comments and I guarantee you will see a shift in your spouse’s attitude and perception.

•     If Words of Affirmation do not come naturally to you, try Dr. Chapman’s suggestion of keeping a little list of ideas that you hear from other people or in the media. The more you hear the better you will be at forming your own version of these expressions and relaying them to your spouse. There are lots of things in life that don’t come naturally to us, that doesn’t mean we need to resign ourselves to never being able to do them. Just practice and it will come, I promise. 

No response?

So what if you feel like your spouse isn’t really responding to your loving words? The most likely answer is that it isn’t his primary love language. If this is the case, stay tuned to the following weeks as we will be studying the other 4 love languages.

If you’re sure it is his primary love language but he still isn’t responding, there may be more going on. If you have struggled in your marriage for a while, it is possible he is interpreting your kind words as manipulation. He may believe the marriage is over and it’s too late. Either of these options doesn’t have to mean the end of your marriage. Stay consistent in expressing love in the language that means the most to him, without expectation of receiving anything in return. Do this for an extended period of time, Dr. Chapman suggests at least six months. It is hard to maintain a cold heart when a person is loving you, in the way you understand and appreciate, without conditions. 

Experiment!

If you’re still on the fence about whether or not Words of Affirmation is your husband’s primary love language, try an experiment. For an entire week (or more if needed), try some of the above mentioned ideas for ways to express love to your spouse through words. Do at least one every single day. Do it with the desire to make him feel your love, without expecting anything in return. Make a note on your phone to write down your observations. If there is a drastic shift in his attitude, you’ve probably found a winner. If not, stay tuned and learn about the other 4 love languages to see if there is one better fitted to your spouse.

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Is Words of Affirmation your love language? Or your spouse’s? I want to hear about it! How do you feel loved? How do you express love with words?

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Learning to Love Your Spouse with the 5 Love Languages

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**There are a couple of affiliate links in this post. That means, if you choose to purchase a product through the link provided, at no extra cost to you, I will receive a small commission.

Last year was a rough one on my marriage. Maybe you have had those years too. I’m happy to report things are much better now but man, for a while there, I wondered why I was even married. 

I kept asking myself why marriage is even important. Why can’t I just do it by myself? Maybe that part of me is coming from seeing my mom do it all on her own for so many years that it seems like a partner is sometimes more of a burden than a blessing. Sometimes I feel like I have 3 kids instead of 2. 

After a lot of prayer and pondering this past year I have come to the conclusion that God’s plan is centered on families, with husbands and wives, for a reason. I feel like learning to work in a partnership is an essential skill we are to learn in this life. It teaches us humility and helps us grow as a person like no other role in life. In fact, I think it is even more challenging than parenting. After the “in-love” feelings have run their course and you’re left with this complete stranger, that is when real love can be learned.

It’s easy to love somebody when we feel those euphoric feelings and see that person in their absolute best light all the time. We overlook their flaws and feel as if they can do no wrong. The real challenge is learning to love them when they’re in their worst light, and all those little or sometimes big flaws are highlighted, front and center. However, if we can learn to love a person in that kind of light, we are truly loving that person as God does. That is a miracle that can only be manifested in a partnership like marriage. 

The Book

A few years back I read an amazing book that I am almost positive you have either read or at least heard of. The 5 Love Languages by Dr. Gary Chapman changed my married world. After reading it, I realized that although I certainly can’t change my husband in any way, I could make him feel more loved and that could definitely improve the emotional climate of our marriage.

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Let me give you a synopsis of the content of the book and how I’m going to incorporate it into the blog this coming month.

Let me start by saying, you should definitely read the book. It’s less than 200 pages. If you can’t find the time to read it, try listening to it. If you’ve already read it and you haven’t implemented it, try reading it again. I have read it several times and it is really one of those books that has multiple layers. You’ll glean what you need from it in that moment.

The book is written by Dr. Gary Chapman, who has been a marriage counselor for more than 30 years. He discovered that the couples who were having trouble in their marriage were not feeling loved by their partner even though in many instances, the other partner thought he was showing his love. He realized that people feel love in different ways. He compares it to speaking different languages. 

Dr. Chapman has come up with 5 Love Languages including: Words of Affirmation, Quality Time, Receiving Gifts, Acts of Service, and Physical Touch. He also explains that we usually feel most comfortable expressing love in our own primary love language. It is most common to have a husband and wife couple who speak completely different love languages. The challenge is figuring out which is your spouse’s love language and then learning to speak it.

My Experience

This concept of love languages is especially poignant for me since I come from a bicultural marriage. My husband’s native language is Spanish and mine is English. We can both communicate in both languages although we prefer our native language. We were raised in different countries, with different cultures, speaking different languages. We have even more differences than already comes in a traditional marriage between partners from the same culture. This has been both trying and rewarding in different ways. However, once I figured out my husband’s love language and began speaking it, he began reciprocating in my love language and our many differences became totally manageable.

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This takes a bit of humility. Even after learning my husband’s love language, it was difficult for me to speak it sometimes. I tend to be a tit-for-tat kind of person and as childish as that is, it is difficult for me to show love when I am not receiving it. I finally had to humble myself and say, “You’re a grown woman and if your marriage matters to you, you will try this, without expecting anything in return.” We have to do that sometimes. If we can find it in ourselves to love without expectations, it almost always ends with mutual love and respect. 

Dr. Chapman has provided an excellent questionnaire in the book and also on his website for both you and your spouse to take in order to determine which love language you speak. If you can’t convince your spouse to take the profile quiz, consider taking it for him and do your best to answer how you believe he would.

What’s Coming

Every Monday in February I am going to post about one of each of the love languages. I’ll summarize what it is, how to know if it is your or your spouse’s love language, and offer some ideas on how to speak it. I’ll talk about different dialects within each love language and ways you may be hurting your spouse without even realizing it. In the future, look for a love languages for children series. This concept extends to all of your relationships. 

I sincerely hope you will implement this concept and try it as an experiment in your marriage. If you feel like your husband’s love tank might be empty, make a commitment to read the book and these upcoming posts to see if you can’t change that. Chances are, if his love tank is full, he will be more inclined to fill yours.

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Have you read The Five Love Languages? Have you heard about it? What do you think? Are you excited to dive into them next month? I know I am! Happy Love Month!

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10 Last Minute Valentine’s Day Date Ideas

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I’m terrible at thinking ahead of time when it comes to holidays. Obviously, it’s Friday and I’m just now coming up with ideas for Valentine’s Day for…tomorrow. So I was on the search for something I could throw together between today and tomorrow. I found some awesome ideas. Some are for You and Yours only but others would work for the whole family. A few of these are a little over-the-top-cheesy for me but I think the basic ideas are great and I can totally work around the cheesiness and still make it fun and memorable.

Breakfast in Bed1. Breakfast in Bed

Since I’ve been married, I’ve never had Valentine’s Day land on a Saturday…which makes this year SUPER special and the breakfast in bed idea totally doable. I love this stuffed french toast and the bacon on skewers…cute. However, my husband might prefer Chilaquiles or Huevos Rancheros. My advice would be: Don’t worry about it being super fancy, just make what he (or the rest of the family) really likes.
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2. Spa Night

One time, while in the mall, I talked my husband into getting a pedicure with me. Well, the Vietnamese lady actually talked him into it. He didn’t want me to tell anybody but he was surprised at how much he liked it. He loves massages so the foot massage in the warm water was right up his alley. Everybody likes to get pampered, whether they want to admit it or not.

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3. Discover a New Town Together

Living in a little podunk town means it’s really easy to get bored here. There’s only one restaurant and two hamburger places. Discovering a new town together is a genius idea to break up the monotony of living in a small town. If you live in the city, maybe you’re aching to find a place with wide open spaces. Find something different and mix it up a little.

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4. Stargazing

When my husband and I were first dating we drove out to the ranch he worked at one night and watched a gorgeous meteor shower. We had a very deep, thought-provoking conversation. It was an incredibly memorable experience. Too bad there isn’t a meteor shower predicted for Valentine’s Day but maybe you’ll get lucky and see a shooting star 🙂

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5. Indoor Camping

We are serious campers in my family. Camping is my absolute favorite thing about the mountains here in Utah. However, Utah winters don’t exactly facilitate camping. This indoor camping idea is a perfect compromise!

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6. Our Love Story Book

My secret hobby (that I rarely have time for anymore) is book making. Let me clarify, I am not a scrapbooker. However, creating a story book about our love story sounds like a lot of fun and you could take it in so many directions with stuff you already have at home. It would be a great excuse to print out some of those digital photos and actually USE them.

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7. Power Outage Date

How fun would it be to just unplug for a few hours? Nothing irks me more than people looking at their phones while they’re on a date. It’s easy to pop a movie in but it’s more memorable to do shadow puppets, play games, and eat by candlelight.

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8. The Love Shack

I love forts. 1. They’re a blast to put together and 2. They’re free! Anything to make the night special is worth the few extra minutes (or mess) to put together.

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9. Je T’iame Hotel

I like the idea of recreating a hotel room. My mom gave me some AMAZING percale sheets for Christmas…the kind of sheets I wanted forever but never could justify buying since we have plenty of regular sheets. The first time we used them my husband said, “I feel like we’re in a hotel room!” We also have some nice hotel-quality towels we got for Christmas. This could get fun!

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10. Chopped Date

I’ve actually never seen the show “Chopped” (GASP!) but this sounds like a blast! You could make it more Valentine’s Day themed by requiring the ingredients be the color red or pink.

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I think I may combine a couple of these and have our first ever SUPER special Valentine’s Day Date. Tell me what you come up with!

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7 Tips to Being a Great Gift-Giver

 

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I’m not gonna lie, I’ve received some weird gifts in my life and wondered, “What were they thinking?” Avoid being that person who gifts the weirdest things that really have no meaning and instead be the other type of person that always gives the most thoughtful gifts.

1. Put some thought into it

This means you need to start ahead of time. Don’t be that person that runs to the nearest Wal-Mart on Christmas Eve, praying there’s something left to give everyone on your list. Start waaaayyyyy ahead of time and force yourself to pay attention. People, even the ones who appear to have everything, are constantly leaving unconscious hints about what they would love to receive as a gift. They may not come out and say, “For Christmas I would like _________” but they are saying it, just in a different way. Listen for cues like, “I wish _________” or “wouldn’t it be nice _________” or “someday _________”. These are great hints for people who are hard to buy for.

box2. Think outside the box

With the cues given above, the person may not be talking about an actual item that you might be able to purchase them as a gift. For example, my mom has pretty much everything. I mean, within reasonable limits, if she wants something she normally just gets it for herself. So it’s sometimes difficult to buy for her. However, when I listen to her and pay attention, she is always talking about making things that she doesn’t have time for, or fixing things that she can’t do herself. I have found that some of the best Christmas gifts I have given her have been acts of service by fixing something or refinishing something she already has. It can be tricky and you may not be able to make it a surprise (which is ALWAYS more fun if you can swing it). However, it’s a great way, and often less expensive way, to give to someone you really care about.

3. Don’t give something just because it’s what you would like to receive

You know that person who always gives you, and everybody else, jewelry? Or makeup? Or workout gear? Or home décor? Or horse-themed stuff? Who’s to say everybody likes the same things you like? It’s an easy way out because it takes a lot less thought. You know you like it, so she’ll like it too right? Unless you’re sure you two are that much alike, dig a little deeper.

4. Price doesn’t always equal value

You don’t have to spend a ton of money to give great gifts. Remember the old adage, “It’s the thought that counts”? It really is. In the end, nobody cares how much you spent on a gift if it is meaningful to that person.

 5. You can’t go wrong with  attaching memories to gifts

photo albumThe best gift, to date I think, that I’ve ever given my dad was putting our home movies on DVD for him. He had all of his photos and memorabilia burn up in a fire a few years ago and it was devastating to him. I figured out how to convert our VHS home movies to DVD on my own computer and he was touched to receive those as his Christmas gift. He still talks about it today. Anytime you can gift memories, people love that! Just make it meaningful and personal and you can’t go wrong. This is especially great for people who seem to have everything.

6. Sometimes less is more

Sometimes you want to go a little overboard but nobody likes to feel bad because they received something huge from the person they gave a keychain to. Remember that size and cost don’t necessarily matter. Meaning is what matters. Do I sound like a broken record here?

7. Last thing, make it appropriate and intentional

Don’t buy something just because it’s on sale and later decide who you might be able to give it to. No joke, my sister received an underwater scuba diving bag one year. She lives in Utah, has never been nor had she ever planned on going scuba diving. WHAT?! Who knows where that came from, probably the sale cart at some random department store. The point is, unless you’re planning on giving her a  ticket to a Caribbean cruise to go along with that bag, don’t do it.

Obviously, as I’ve repeated myself several times, it really is the thought that counts. Not just that you thought about that person and gave them something, but the fact that you put a lot of thought into what you gave that person. Gifts are a great way to show your love and strengthen your relationships. Don’t let a bad gift put a damper on a perfectly great Christmas. It’s not too late to return some things if you think you need to 🙂

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