The Love Languages: Can you be bilingual

Young couple near the oceanWhile we all may have a primary love language that does not mean we don’t like to occasionally “speak,” some of the other languages. Also, there are some cases where two of our love languages are tied or so closely together that it is hard to tell the difference. I know that in my case words of affirmation on my primary love language but I also occasionally like quality time and acts of service.

It may seem difficult to determine your primary love language, so a little work and experimentation may be in order. Many men assume physical touch is their primary language because they desire sexual intercourse so intently (Chapman 125). However, for a male the desire for sexual intercourse is accompanied by the buildup of sperm cells and seminal fluid in the seminal vessels, and when they are full there is a physical push for release (Chapman 125). Whereas with a woman the sexual desire is more influenced by her emotions – when she feels appreciated and admired she has a desire to be more physically intimate – her sexual drive is more closely tied to her emotional need for connection and love. (Chapman 125).

One way to identify your primary love language is by looking at what your spouse does or says, or fails to do or say, that hurts you deeply (Chapman 126). Shortly after I read this book, my wife, daughter and I were trying to identify the primary love languages for ourselves and our family members. In some cases it was easy but in my case it took a little bit of discussion. We determined that since I am a person who tends to take a great deal of risk in many endeavors and in life I need words of affirmation as support for those risks. Other ways to identify your primary love language can be:

  • What do you most often request of your spouse? (Chapman 128). Do you ask for certain things to be done around the house? Do you ask for some affirmation? Do you ask for physical touch?
  • How do you regularly express love to your spouse? (Chapman 128). Do you do things around the house for them, buy gifts for them, tell them nice things? Whatever you’re trying to do for them might actually be your primary love language.
  • If you could build your “Franken-Mate,” what would he or she be like? (Chapman 128). I largely credit an exercise that Anthony Robbins has on one of his CDs in his Get the Edge program, that I listened to many years ago, where he has you describe your ideal mate and then he has you describe your mate from hell. After I did the exercise I realized I was already dating my ideal mate (and in the mate-from-hell portion I recognized a few folks from the past, put I digress). This helped me get past the thinking that there was always something better out there. Years later while watching a reality show featuring Scott Baio (yea, Chachi) trying to settle down with just one woman he was quoted as saying that eventually you learn that there is no “next best thing,” there is only “the next thing.”

Once you have identified your primary love language then you can start doing those things for your mate. You may find you are already married to them.

Speaking in your mates’ love language is a choice. And many times we may already be full of hurt, anger and resentment (Chapman 134). But, it may be better than the alternative. Divorce can be expensive, emotionally traumatizing, particularly for children, and may leave scars on our own soul. Plus, there is no guarantee that divorce will solve the problem. One of the challenges when you leave a relationship is that you take you with you. If you have failed to learn anything from that relationship you are already condemned to continue making the same mistakes in the next one. Which in turn will sooner or later condemn that relationship.

As we all know, insanity is defined as doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. You need to make a conscious choice to identify your mates primary love language and then begin to fill their love tank by speaking in their language (Chapman 129). Do you feel like you are now two roommates living under the same roof? Then it is time to start speaking a different language that the other person appreciates and understands.

In Chapman’s book, The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love That Lasts he addresses the times when an individual is in a verbally abusive relationship or the other person thinks they don’t have to change or should not have to change to make things better (Chapman 151-152). We cannot go into the past and change what is but we can affect the present and the direction we move forward into the future (Chapman 156). By identifying your mates primary love language and giving them what they need for six months you may find that they begin to recognize that they also can change to make the relationship better.

By changing yourself, who is the only person you truly have control over, you may change the way they act and respond. If there is no change then perhaps you can truly say you tried everything – but before you make a decision I highly recommend reading this book completely, and getting some marriage counseling so you do not stumble into the future making the same mistakes. Marriage counseling did not save my first marriage but it definitely helped to prevent me from making many of the same mistakes when I got married again.

I also want to mention that in order to get things going you may need to appreciate your mates efforts at expressing love when they are not expressing it in your language but in their own. Maybe they have not figured out your love language yet (or have not yet read Chapman’s book – which they should) but it does show that they are trying, they just need an effective strategy.

The love languages are not the only things that are needed for a successful relationship; couple’s must continue to respect each other and treat each other with dignity and consideration. But by learning your mates primary love language and doing the things they appreciate, I believe you can truly increase your chances of happiness, longevity and success. By understanding these principles, you may also be able to understand and appreciate your parents ways of expressing their love towards you and your kids ways of both expressing and receiving love.

Even though we each have a primary love language we occasionally all like to receive gifts, have physical touch, hear words of affirmation, have act of service performed, and have quality time.

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

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