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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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!