When I first read Gary Chapman's The 5 Love Languages, I was close to tears. "Why hadn't I come across this book years ago?" I thought.
For years I thought that men and women weren't meant to be together because men were from Mars and women were from Venus. I had seen too many difficult relationships so much so that I had no faith left in getting married.
I had grown up seeing very stubborn men and I always thought that all men were difficult. I am not talking about a country where men oppressed women. I grew up in a country where women had a lot of power. Having said that, I still believed that men weren't easy species to live with under the same roof. It wasn't surprising that homosexuality was on the rise.
However, when I read this book, I realised that I had seen only half the picture. It wasn't fair to point the finger solely at men.
There have been lot more divorces now compared to 20 years ago. The pressures of life in the era we live in are far greater than our grandparents' times. Nevertheless, many of the problems couples face now are similar to what couples faced 20 or 30 years ago. Not understanding each others' needs, not appreciating each others' gestures, not being able to communicate well are some of the problems most couple faced before and face now.
The 5 Love Languages enlightened me on where men and women went wrong or are going wrong. I understood why couples couldn't fulfill each others' needs or appreciate each others' gestures.
The book taught me the kind of needs men and women have in relationships.
All of us have needs in the form of love languages. The 5 love languages are
• words of affirmation
• acts of service
• quality time
• receiving gifts
• physical touch
In order to fulfill the needs of others, we should understand how the love languages work.
Words of affirmation
Some people want to hear praises and compliments. "You're beautiful", "You are the best thing that happened to me" and "You are my life" are words that fill up their love tanks.
Some want undivided time and attention from their partners. This means that they want their partner to be solely focused on them. Being partially focused on the tv or the newspaper will not be accepted.
Some want gifts from their partner. The more effort and thought the partner puts into the gift, the more appreciation is felt by the receiver and this fills his or her love tank.
Acts of Service
Some want their partners to help them with the household chores and other work which will help them ease their burden.
This shouldn't be mistaken for sex. Some people receive love through hugs, kisses, strokes, pats and other forms of physical touch. They thrive with a very tactile partner.
To succeed in a relationship, first we need to identify what our own love languages are. I have come across some individuals who are not sure of what they want. This becomes extremely difficult for their partners because it's hard for them to fulfill their other half's need. Having established what our own needs are, we should be able to communicate it to our partners. Some people are quick to discover what their partners want. However, some aren't and might need some help to understand what their partner's needs are.
It takes two to tango in a relationship. Thus, what the other person wants is of paramount importance. In some cases, we might not find it easy to express or give love in the language our partner wants. This is where we'll have to put in some effort to show them that we care about their love language.
One of my friends simply couldn't whisper sweet nothings into his wife's ears. He felt that he was being phony when he did this. His wife needed words of affirmation more than anything else. He really struggled at the beginning. He even used to Google for nice things to say to his wife. After about two years, it has become easier for him. His wife, on the other hand, was really bad at getting him the right gifts. She got him gifts that she liked and not what he liked. He hardly bought things for himself and hoped that she would pick out his idea of gifts from his conversations. On one of his birthdays, she got him a bouquet of flowers and a new duvet set for their bed. He was expecting something like tools for gardening and couldn't appreciate her gifts to the slightest.
Although they were partners, they were two different individuals and they needed to understand each other first and give each other the right love language in order to be happy.
Before I met my husband, I had read the 5 Love Languages and had discovered what my love languages were. It didn't take me very long to identify what his love languages were. However, I could see that he wasn't aware of these love languages and therefore, it wasn't fair of me to expect him to fulfill my needs straightaway. I saw the necessity to tell him about the 5 Love Languages so that he could give me love using the languages that made me content.