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  • Writer's pictureSharanya Naidoo

Troubles with Love

December 5th 2017

So you know about the Five Languages by Gary Chapman. You're putting it into practice and when you try to have a conversation with your partner about it - they're not interested. What do you do?

This week I wanted to talk about the five love languages. We’ve done a video before on the five languages and what they are but just to recap the five love languages is a I guess a model for relationships to nurture each partner feeling loved. And the way you give love is the way you wish to receive it. So this is based on the work of Gary Chapman who wrote the book “The Five Languages of Love” (actually “The Five Love Languages”).

The five languages are small gifts which are gifts given with a lot of thought behind them not necessarily a lot of money, quality time which means you can just be sitting with your partner or friend doing nothing particularly interesting but just the fact that you’re together makes you feel loved, acts of service which means one partner does something for the other partner that they could possibly do for themselves but it’s an act of love to do it for them, for example cooking them a meal or ironing their shirt or filling the car up with petrol.

We’ve got physical affection, number four, in no particular order, but physical affection is hugs, holding hands, cuddling on the couch, and the last one is words of affirmation, so you have to hear it to feel it whether it’s I love you or you look wonderful or I’m really proud of you. You’ve got to hear it to feel loved.

What happened this week at our Sunday sessions with the ladies is that the ladies know about the five love languages and many of you out there know about these love languages. But what happens when your partner doesn’t really care about the love languages? What do you do when you are on board with it and actively giving your partner love in the language that you feel is theirs but they’re not really interested in reciprocating?

A huge discussion sprouted from this dilemma that honestly all of the ladies were having. So the first thing that we spoke about was judgment. So if you have a particular love language and you don’t realise that there are four others or that there are a total of five languages then the way other people wish to receive love that’s not like yours can be met with judgment.

What we found was the certain judgments thrown at the languages would be for example one lady whose love language is gifts was called material, like you’re a bit materialistic, you need gifts to be bought for you or given to you. And she was saying to us that it’s not necessarily something that needs to be bought. It could be a flower from the garden. It could be the gift of like going to the movies together. That for her is still a gift, a gift of love. It’s not necessarily money but what her partner throws at her is you’re so materialistic. His language is not gifts.

There’s another lady who needs words, she has to hear it. And her partner was saying to her well you’re really insecure, you should work on that. Why do you always have to hear it? Why do I have to always keep saying it to you in order for you to feel it? What else was there? There was physical affection. So if you’re a physical affection person that loves hugs every day, holding hands, what was thrown at that lady was you’re so needy… like you’re so needy, you need me around all the time, you need to be held all the time.

Quality time as well when you just want to spend time together is judged as being needy… And the last one acts of service, so if a partner feels loved when you cook for them or when you iron their shirt or when you fill up the car with petrol like I said before, you can get thrown with judgment. They can get thrown with judgment about well that’s really convenient, you know, it’s really convenient. All you need to do is to give me a hug for me to feel loved but I’ve got to go and cook and I’ve got to go and iron your shirt and I’ve got to go do all these things for you, it’s so much effort, so it’s really convenient for you that I’ve got to put in so much effort.

You can see when you’re out of your love language it’s very easy to judge other people’s languages as something negative whereas in truth they are all equally valid, all five are equally valid and each person is completely valid in their needs, completely valid. So everyone’s got a love tank which is what Gary Chapman talks about, and we all need to fill our love tank up, to keep it full. And when you’ve got a partner or a significant other in your life, it really helps when they understand the way that you need to feel loved and vice versa.

We talked about judgment and how it’s a common thing to judge someone else’s love language as not valid when it’s not the one that we’re used to, that comes naturally to us. So the other languages feel unnatural to us and so then we place judgment on them for needing it.

The second thing we talked about, we talked about how unless it’s happening… some people are… we talked about empathy. So people have different levels of empathy and if you can’t see past your own then there needs to be strategies to help the person see it from your perspective. So we spoke about how to do that with a partner that’s just not interested, that’s not hearing what you’re saying about the love languages.

We came up with a couple of ideas and one good one was to draw it out on a piece of paper, like draw little cups or two tanks, you know, and this one’s yours and this one’s mine and here are the five languages. So you write down all five in the middle of the page and then ask questions. So I feel that it’s less confrontational when you ask someone a question as opposed to telling them or jumping in and telling them what you think is going on.

They’ve got to process that information plus they’ve got to process what they’re thinking.

In order to create this open space of communication ask questions. So, ask them what do you think your love language is and hear them out. What do you think my love language is? Hear them out. What do you think our kids’ love languages are? Hear them out. Our parents… So have this open conversation about the love languages and it being a valid five options.

And then you can talk about well, has anything happened in your life where you felt hurt by someone when you did something for them or you gave love to them in a certain way and it wasn’t received. So unravel that and talk about how that probably wasn’t their love language and they didn’t receive it with the full appreciation because it doesn’t register as a loving act.

This open conversation about the love languages with this piece of paper in front shows… gives an illustration that there’s not only one way, there’s not only your way of loving. There’s five different ways. And talk about the different ways each language is judged.

What will prick up for them is the way their language is judged. If they’re a hugger and they always need hugs and physical affection and they think well that’s the only way to receive love and to give love, when you mention to them that some people find that needy and clingy, it just might shatter their illusion that this is the only way to feel loved.

Some people don’t like being hugged which I’ve learnt over time because I am a hugger. So I’ve learnt that not everyone is keen for a hug, and there’ve been moments where I’ve gone in for the hug and the other person is not feeling it and I’ve just kind of got to kind of do something that ends the hug. It’s really awkward. So I’ve learnt over time that not everyone loves hugs. It’s not the only way to receive and give love.

We also talked about culturally… like cultures have acceptable love languages, like it’s common in the culture to give and receive love in that certain way. So with the ladies that come over we were talking about their different backgrounds. And some ladies are born and raised in India and Sri Lanka itself. And culturally speaking, those two cultures are generally speaking not physical affection cultures. They are more acts of service cultures, so doing things for other people is the way of showing and receiving love.

If you’re born in South Africa like me, we are a fully a hugging demographic. So when you meet someone for the first time even if they’re elderly whether you’re a young kid there’s always like a hug and a kiss for meeting this new auntie and uncle and the children, like it’s just a cultural norm that we hold each other and we hug each other. So I’ve grown up with that and I’m very lucky because that is my love language.

There are other cultures that it’s about quality time. It’s not about things and gifts or even hugs. It’s about the space that you create together, the sacred space of quality time. And so gatherings and family get-togethers are all centred around this notion of quality time together. It doesn’t matter what you’re doing. And then there are cultures of gift-giving where it’s really… when you go to someone’s house you bring a gift, when you go to a birthday party you give a gift. We’ve got cultures of acceptable means of giving and receiving love.

No one is better or worse. All five are equally valid. So when you can understand if you’re culturally different from your partner, you can understand that maybe there’s this ethos behind it, this huge construct behind the way they were raised in regards to love and what they find acceptable and what they find unacceptable in a way.

Then we also talked about how the love languages link in to the book “Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus” by John Gray. And we spoke about how generally speaking men and women sometimes have their own different… What’s the word? I was going to say characteristics of how they perceive appreciation and love. So what John Gray says in his book is that there’s this point system, and women… We’ll start with men.

Men will think that the bigger the act the more points they get. So they might work for three months straight, saving, saving, saving, saving so much money, not pay too much attention to their wife in terms of the day to day stuff because in their mind they’re like doing extra time at work and they’re saving all this money, and then they surprise her with this trip to Europe for six weeks. So they’re like oh man, that’s like a thousand points.

That’s not how it works generally speaking for women. Women are trip to Europe is one point, wake up and give me a hug is one point, sit down and have a coffee with me in a café is one point, buy a house together is one point, go to the movies is one point, a kiss goodnight is one point. It’s small dollops of love consistently and almost… and daily. So just a tiny dollop of love daily will fill up that love tank in whatever way they wish receive it and it’s more like a drip effect.

They would much prefer daily doses of love than nothing, ignoring them for six months or three months to then go on this magical two-month holiday. It would just not make up for it. So if you ignore your wife for two months and then take her on a two-month holiday they don’t balance out. No. That’s not how it’s going to work. Much prefer like dollops per day, a tiny bit per day daily.

Whereas men that are from Mars… not all men are from Mars but the ones that are will prefer these big acts of love and think wow, she’s going to really love this, it’s going to be amazing and then boom, there’s this… he buys a new car for example because the old one is a bomb 15:16 and it’s dying. And that’s still one point. It’s not like five hundred points.

To express that to each other and just ask look, does that make sense to you, to your partner, is this how you feel, would you feel upset if I worked really hard for three months to save up all this money to take you on a trip to Paris for six weeks? Would you prefer that or would you prefer like a hug and a kiss a day and then like a day out on the weekend? Which one would you prefer? And I can hear some of you say well both, but the idea is that the love tank… like how is your love tank kept full. If you’re not spending time together for two months does it like deplete and go down and then does it fill kind of halfway up when you go on a holiday.

Every couple is different and every single individual is different but there are these general patterns that play out in relationships. And the point system is really interesting because when I talk about it with couples there’s these light bulbs that go off. John Gray’s work is amazing. These light bulbs that go off where oh man, that conflict that we had last year, it’s because we didn’t get the point system.

This lovely discussion on the five languages of love was really all about how do you inspire your partner to really engage in the five languages when they’re not so interested in it. And I think the key is that when someone understands the value of something they will be interested in it.

The last thing I ended on with our sessions on Sunday was that if you’ve got a very analytical partner, this is the way to deliver, this is the way to sell the love languages to them. You just say to them it’s an economic thing. It’s not a love thing. It’s not a relationship thing. It’s a pure economical thing. It’s minimum input maximum return. So wouldn’t you want to know the least amount of action that you need to take for the maximum result and reaction and level of appreciation? And when you deliver it in that way they will be interested to know well what’s the minimal amount of action that I need to do, and it is the specific love language that is yours. Because there’s no point kind of wasting all your energy in a love language that’s not going to hit the mark for them. So maybe if they hear it from an economic point of view they’ll be more inclined to jump on board of it.

Once a couple understands the other’s love language it’s a beautiful act of generosity and an act of giving and at the end of the day both individuals receive what they truly need to receive to feel loved.

One thing to note as well when you’re discussing this with your partner is that it is not natural to give love in a different way than you wish to receive it. It’s not natural. It’s actually work. It’s effort. It doesn’t come naturally. So for me my husband’s number one is words of affirmation and acts of service, so these top two. And those are my bottom two. It doesn’t do anything for me, acts of service, and… I can do things myself. And words of affirmation, not really. I’d rather a hug, I’d rather quality time, and somewhere in there is also gifts.

The way I need to give love to him is so unnatural to me and that’s the work, that’s the effort that we put in. So someone who’s not really registering that this is important, it’s probably because it feels too hard, it feels like work, and that needs to be communicated. This is work, this is effort, but minimum input maximum return.



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