I gave them everything and it wasn’t enough (are you sure?)

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When someone who is divorced challenges Anthony Robbins by saying, “yes, but I gave them EVERYTHING,” Tony is known to respond by saying: “yes, everything but what they needed.”

The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love That Lasts by Gary Chapman validated something I have long suspected: there is an infatuation stage to a relationship. Some of you may be going “duh,” at that personal revelation, but I know from reading Dear Amy (the ultimate source) along with 46 years of personal observation, there are thousands of people who think that when that infatuation stage is over, then the person they are with must not be the right one or else the infatuation would have never gone away. Not true.

The 5 Love Languages also provided me with a simple explanation of why many marriages and relationships don’t work out: we are simply not speaking each others language. But there is hope. By understanding that the infatuation stage does end, and by learning to speak each other’s language in the meantime, or even many years after the honeymoon is over, you can rekindle those initial exciting feelings and save a failing marriage, or put an already amazing relationship into afterburner.

I remember the morning after my first marriage (yes, I’ve had two). My then newly betrothed spouse was chatting with her dad on the phone in the other room, while I was watching BMX motorcycle racing on TV. “Well, I guess the honeymoon is over,” he told her. I guess so – I don’t even like watching motorcycle racing. What happens when people get married or even after they’ve been together for a long time? Why is the divorce rate so high? How can people who once proclaimed such deep love for one another get involved in such horrible fights, custody disputes and lawsuits? What happens to love after you get married?

Keeping love alive in marriages is a serious business and in fact is a multibillion dollar industry, but why is it that so few couples have found the secret to keeping alive after the wedding? (Chapman 15). The problem is we speak different love languages (Chapman 15). Many of us grow up learning the love language of our parents and siblings which becomes our primary love language, and seldom do a husband and wife have the same primary emotional love language, we tend to speak our own tongue (Chapman 14-15). Even when we can figure out our mates’ love language we may not be speaking in the right dialect (Chapman 15).

Psychologists tell us that the need to feel loved is a primary human need (Chapman 19). Child psychologists go further and say that every child has a basic need for love and affection and a sense that he or she is wanted, and without an adequate supply they will be emotionally unstable (Chapman 20). Isolation is devastating to humans, which is why solitary confinement in prison is considered the cruelest of punishments (Chapman 22).

Before we get to the five love languages lets, as Dr. Phil likes to say, get real.

  • Most of us enter marriage by the way of the in–love experience (Chapman 28). We meet someone who we think is hot or there is something about their personality, or both, and it triggers the warm fuzzies. After a few dates, you start to think you are falling in love and you’re eventually convinced it is the real deal, in fact this may just be “the one.”
  • The in-love experience is a time of euphoria. You hold hands, you think you can kiss forever, other couples may argue and fight, “but that is not us because we love each other.” You get all lovey-dovey and make your friends sick; they are tired of hearing about your new found love but you feel you just won the relationship lottery. You think this feeling will last forever (Chapman 30).
  • BUT YOU WERE WRONG MISTER! Eventually, reality intrudes and you’re welcomed to the real world of marriage (Chapman 30). If you could step outside of yourself during this infatuation phase you would realize that it cannot go on forever. If everybody was always in the in-love stage nothing would ever get accomplished. Unfortunately, many couples feel there are only two options at the end of infatuation: resign themselves to a life of misery or jump ship and try again (Chapman 32).

There is a third alternative – there is a better way. Recognize the infatuation experience for what it was, an emotional high but a temporary one; now begin to pursue “real love” with your spouse (Chapman 32-33). Real love unites reason and emotion, requires effort and discipline and cannot begin until after infatuation has run its course.

“Married adults want to feel affection and love from their spouses. We feel secure when we are assured that our mate accepts us, and is committed to our well-being,” Chapman (33).  We had those feelings during infatuation but its a mistake to think it will go on forever (Chapman 33). When you speak your mates love language you fill up their emotional love tank and they feel secure in your love (Chapman 34). The whole world looks bright and your spouse will attempt to reach their highest potential in life. But when the tank is empty they feel used, not loved, the world goes dark and they will likely never reach for their potential (Chapman 34).

Are you ready to learn a new language and give your mate what they need?

Chapman, Gary D. The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love That Lasts. Chicago: Northfield Pub., 2010. Print.

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