Language of Love #1: Words of Affirmation

This series of posts is dedicated to all husbands (in particular, those who do not like to read), including mine. 😛

I was gifted a copy of “The 5 Love Languages” by Gary Chapman when I got married. It’s probably one of the best wedding presents I could have received and I thought it would be great to share snippets of the book, and at the same time, remind myself of the takeaways from the book, as I write. It has greatly changed the way I view my relationship and has been helpful in helping me understand things from ys’ perspective.

I agree there is no manual for a successful marriage and such self-help books are always viewed with a certain level of skepticism. However, I do think that there is value in understanding your spouse’s love language because everyone uses a distinct language to express love.

The idea is this – it is rare that a husband and wife would have the same primary love language and this is the reason why, even though we may think we are expressing love (because you may be speaking your language of love), the message does not get through to your spouse (because that may not be your spouse’s primary language of love). When this happens, you may feel like you are not being appreciated, because your spouse does not seem to be contented or happy, even though in your view, you have already been putting a great deal of effort into the marriage.

“The problem is that we have overlooked one fundamental truth: People speak different languages of love.” – Gary Chapman

The five languages of love are:

  • Words of Affirmation
  • Quality Time
  • Receiving Gifts
  • Acts of Service
  • Physical Touch

Today, I will share a little about Love Language #1 – Words of Affirmation

This language of love is to give verbal compliments or words of appreciation, for example, “You look great in that dress!” or “I am really grateful that you send me to work every morning” or “I really appreciate you preparing baby’s milk and washing the milk bottles everyday.”

Using such verbal compliments are more effective and are greater motivators than nagging words, for example “Can you stop playing with your phone and go make milk for the baby?” I must admit that I am guilty of this almost all the time. 😦 It is human nature to be more motivated to reciprocate when you receive affirmations. It sounds to me like a win-win situation. You compliment your spouse, your spouse feels appreciated and more motivated to help you out (because in every person, there exists a desire to please), and you get the help you need. Everyone is happy.

Another way of showing this language of love is to give words of encouragement “to inspire courage”. Your spouse should be your greatest cheerleader and inspiration! Don’t put your spouse down. Even if you feel that an idea that is brought up is really silly, don’t slam it. Offer your opinions, walk through the idea together and if possible, help to refine the idea.

Kind words should be used to communicate love. The manner in which you speak and the tone you take is important. You should never be careless with your words, no matter how angry you are. I took a long time to learn this. I am a very emotional person, and often, during arguments with my then boyfriend and now husband, I will speak carelessly and say things which I do not mean. The tone I take is usually filled with anger and bitterness.

“A soft answer turns away anger.” – Gary Chapman

Ys on the other hand, is much better at this. I recall an incident from maybe 6 years ago, which still never fails to make both of us laugh.

I was angry about something, but being the typical girl I am, I refused to talk about it, even though I was asked if “everything was ok”. We were having lunch and I was sulking while eating my pasta and feeling angry that he had actually believed that everything was ok (hello?? Dating Tip 101 is that when a woman says everything is ok, things are usually NOT ok.) I was poking my fork into my pasta angrily, when one fusilli landed on the table. He could have reacted negatively but he didn’t. Instead, he asked “are you angry with the fusilli?” I could not help but burst out laughing. The tension had eased and the anger had dissipated.

I have come a long way since then and I make a great deal of effort to exercise discipline with regard to the way I react. These days, when I am angry or when I sense the tension, I resist the urge to “talk things through” because there is a higher possibility of us lashing out at each other with harsh words. Instead, I wait till both of us are in a better mood before broaching the topic. In any case, it is always easier to talk when both parties are calmer and more rational. When we discuss issues, I avoid harsh or accusatory words. When kind words are chosen, instead of reciprocating with additional heat or anger, you will want to hear what the other person has to say and there is a desire to reconcile.

Humble words should be used to communicate love. One should be making requests and not demands. There is a very fine line but it makes a whole lot of difference!

All these may seem so logical that on reading it for the first time, you may think “why do I need a book to tell me all these. Isn’t it all common sense?” Yes, it could be common sense, but the question is how many of us actually put the above into practice?

How about dropping your spouse a compliment or saying something positive to your spouse/partner today? Write a note, send a text message, drop an email or tell this to your kids in front of your spouse. It’s a first step!

Next up…Language of Love #2: Quality Time.

Linking up with A Juggling Mom’s Motivational Mondays.