Do you feel like you are sometimes on a different planet from your spouse?
Like nothing you can say or do is right.
Do you feel like your love tank is empty and your spouse just doesn’t understand what you need or want?
As a husband you have been slaving away at a job, providing for your family, coming home, changing light bulbs, mowing the lawn, taking out the trash and still your wife is not happy.
Or as a wife you have been stroking his ego with kind words, trying to satisfy him in the bedroom and gushing all over him verbally but he still seems stuck in an unhappy place. He is unresponsive to your words and intimacy.
It is so common for a spouse to take this feeling upon themselves and think, “I’m done, I have tried everything!” or “What’s wrong with me?!” and then turn it into a lack of self-worth or insecurity issue. The number one clarifying statement I’ve heard in the midst of nearly every marital disagreement is this: “I just want to see you happy. You’re never happy. I feel like I can’t do anything right for you.“
Well, guess what? You ARE on a different planet because you are not speaking your spouse’s love language!
Now, there are many, many communication skills and techniques we can learn and improve on always. But this could be one simple thing you are overlooking.
The 5 Love Languages is written by New York Times best selling author Gary Chapman. This book gives a great view on how to learn your spouses “love language” and best demonstrate your love for them by speaking in their language. This book guides couples in identifying, understanding, and speaking their spouse’s primary love language. You can get your copy right HERE!
Here is a big hint (if you don’t have time to read the book)……the love language you see someone most demonstrate is the love language they most like to receive! You and/or your spouse can take the quiz HERE to find out your love language.
If you aren’t all into seeing a counselor (yet) and don’t want to do a deep dive long marriage program, this book is a quick read and will give you an easy boost no matter where you are in your marriage. The more we understand ourselves, the better we can communicate our needs to our spouse. And the more we study our spouse, the better our ability to fill their love tank.
Here is a quick summary of each love language excerpted from this post on “Focus on the Family” by author Gary Chapman.
Words of Affirmation
One time when my wife and I were visiting our daughter and son-in-law and our two grandchildren, our son-in-law took the garbage out after dinner. When he walked back into the room where we were talking with our daughter, she looked up and said, “John, thanks for taking the garbage out.”
Inside I said, “Yes!” because I knew the power of appreciation. I can’t tell you how many men and women have sat in my office over the past 30 years and said to me, “I work my tail off every day, yet my spouse acts like I haven’t done a thing. I never get a single word of appreciation.”
If your spouse’s primary love language is words of affirmation, your spoken praise and appreciation will fall like rain on parched soil. Before long, you will see new life sprouting in your marriage as your spouse responds to your words of love.
Acts of Service
Do you remember the old saying, “Actions speak louder than words”? For some people, that is particularly true of love. If acts of service is your spouse’s primary love language, nothing will speak more deeply to him or her emotionally than simple acts of service.
Maxine, who had been married for 15 years, came to my office one day because she was frustrated with her marriage. Listen to what she said: “I don’t understand David. Every day he tells me that he loves me, but he never does anything to help me. He just sits on the couch watching TV while I wash the dishes, and the thought never crosses his mind to help me. I’m sick of hearing ‘I love you.’ If he loved me, he would do something to help me.”
Maxine’s primary love language is acts of service (not words of affirmation), and even though her husband, David, loved her, he had never learned to express his love in a way that made her feel loved. However, after David and I talked and he read The Five Love Languages, he got the picture and started speaking Maxine’s love language. In less than a month, her love tank was beginning to fill up, and their marriage moved from winter to spring.
The next time I talked to Maxine, she said, “It’s wonderful. I wish we had come for counseling 10 years ago. I never knew about the love languages. I just knew I didn’t feel loved.”
In every society throughout human history, gift giving has been perceived as an expression of love. Giving gifts is universal, because there is something inside the human psyche that says if you love someone, you will give to him or her.
What many people do not understand is that for some people, receiving gifts is their primary love language. It’s the thing that makes them feel loved most deeply. If you’re married to someone whose primary love language is gift giving, you will make your spouse feel loved and treasured by giving gifts on birthdays, holidays, anniversaries and “no occasion” days.
The gifts need not be expensive or elaborate; it’s the thought that counts. Even something as simple as a homemade card or a few cheerful flowers will communicate your love to your spouse. Little things mean a lot to a person whose primary love language is receiving gifts.
If your spouse’s love language is quality time, giving him or her your undivided attention is one of the best ways you can show your love. Some men pride themselves on being able to watch television, read a magazine, and listen to their wives, all at the same time. That is an admirable trait, but it is not speaking the love language of quality time.
Instead, you must turn off the TV, lay the magazine down, look into your mate’s eyes, and listen and interact. To your spouse, 20 minutes of your undivided attention – listening and conversing – is like a 20-minute refill of his or her love tank.
Men, if you really want to impress your wife, the next time she walks into the room while you are watching a sporting event, put the television on mute and don’t take your eyes off her as long as she’s in the room. If she engages you in conversation, turn the TV off and give her your undivided attention. You will score a thousand points and her love tank will be overflowing.
We have long known the emotional power of physical touch. That’s why we pick up babies and touch them tenderly. Long before an infant understands the meaning of the word love, he or she feels loved by physical touch.
In marriage, the love language of physical touch includes everything from putting a hand on your mate’s shoulder as you walk by, touching his or her leg as you’re driving together, and holding hands while you’re walking to kissing, embracing and sexual intercourse.
If physical touch is your spouse’s primary love language, nothing communicates love more clearly than for you to take the initiative to reach out and touch your mate.
To give you some quick ideas, below are 5 ideas for each love language to make your spouse feel more loved than they ever imagined.
Acts of Service
I am totally an acts of service girl. Anytime my husband steps in next to me to help with a project or chore, my heart overflows.
- Fold the Laundry.
- Pick a chore they normally don’t like doing and do it for them.
- Run some errands that you know need done.
- Help with the kids.
- Make a meal.
- Spend time with your spouse doing something they love – shooting range, hunting, watching sports, shopping, reading, movie, favorite tv show.
- Plan a date.
- Take the opportunity to learn something new about what makes them tick i.e. if you aren’t into their hobby, chose to spend some time learning it and doing it with them
- Turn off the phones and focus on just each other when you are together.
- Make time for a family evening.
Words of Affirmation
This is totally my husband. He word gushes! Here’s a clue for all his friends/crew… he THRIVES when someone is speaking positive words into his life!
- Write them! Little notes. On the dry erase board. The bathroom mirror even!
- Say them. May sure you are speaking love into their life each day. I love the way you _______________. You are really good at _______________.
- Place them in unexpected places. Her purse or desk. His bag or truck.
- Text them. Who doesn’t love a random text that makes you feel good?
- “Thank you for __________, I really appreciate that!”
- Sometimes good for the introvert who’s been thinking / watching / knowing what would be a nice simple luxury
- I noticed your socks were getting holey and got you some new ones!
- I saw this cute saying on Pinterest and printed it on sticker for you!
- I know you won’t spend this much money on yourself but I want you to have this luxury.
- Bringing home flowers or their favorite goody.
- Try our “12 steamy days with your firefighter“
- Learn couples massage techniques
- Hold hands when you walk places or drive together
- Let those hugs linger longer
- Kiss them in a way that’s a little over the top and unexpected for the moment
It gets better. You can also learn the love language or your child or teen HERE. Or you can even learn someone’s language of apology or appreciation. Stay tuned for our next article on Love Languages – how to speak the love language or your child, or a friend, or even a crew member. (*Update: Next Article is HERE!)
Put the Focus back on the Love of Your Life
Whether you’ve been married 1 day or 50 years, marriage requires constant attention.
Marriage on Fire is a journey to take together that strengthens your marriage whether you are a rookie or “experienced” at marriage. It’s designed especially for first responders, by a firefighter and his wife who have been through both the hot sparks and the tough fires of marriage and have brought healing and growth to a community of fire families.