holding heart

A lack of communication is common in a marriage and most of the time it stems from misunderstanding and misinterpreting of our spouse's actions. We know that relationships all require commitment, hard work, compromise, patience and sometimes long-suffering. Many of us are troubled in our relationships and miss the joy we used to experience. Perhaps you are not fulfilling their needs as well. This may sound familiar and corny, but just like a beautiful garden needs to be tended to, our marriages are the same way. We do not want our marriage to wither away like an abandoned garden, so we need to take action before it gets to that point. This is where it is important to know what your love language is. If your primary love language is never examined, you will never fill the vacant space. There are 5 principal love languages and without knowing which one identifies you, you may never feel totally loved. We are not suggesting that you don't love your mate or that they don't love you, we are merely sharing that people have different styles of communicating and letting each other know how they care. Gary Chapman wrote in the ground-breaking book The 5 Love Languages that the love languages that are commonly used are words of affirmation, quality time, receiving gifts, physical touch and acts of service. Here is how knowing your love language can help improve your marriage.

Words Of Affirmation

Maybe you love the feeling of words of sweet affirmation. This actually puts a bounce in your step! If this is not your spouse's language you might feel that they never validate you or motivate you verbally. There is a reason for this--it is not their way of expressing love. If this is your language, start by leaving notes around the house that encourage them. Use a quote to inspire them before they start their day. Find an inspirational story to share that will motivate them or that will inspire them. Make giving praises a regular part of your relationship. Examples of affirmations are "You look incredible" or "You are a great provider" are great ways to get started. On the flip side if they are verbally harsh or insult you it is taken to heart and can be crushing. Just like Proverbs said: "The tongue has the power of life and death." There is power in the tongue to do good or to inflict pain.

Quality Time

They say the gift of time is the best present to ever offer someone. Quality time is not glancing at your phone for the basketball score or checking work email. It is actually engaging with each other in a meaningful conversation, sharing a walk or reading a good book together. Chapman clarified this further in an article on Focus on the Family that quality time means to give someone your undivided attention. “I don't mean sitting on the couch watching television together--when you spend time that way, Netflix or HBO has your attention — not your spouse." Ouch! All of us can fall into a trap of getting into a routine where we don't even converse since we are so busy. Look into playing sports together and start enjoying more hobbies together to increase more meaningful interaction.

Receiving Gifts

If you love to give gifts like flowers, clothes, food, wine, cigars or buying any other trinkets to show your affection than giving and receiving gifts is your love language. When you receive a gift it makes you feel validated and loved. The gift is a symbol that they are thinking of you and that they put thought into the item. What is important is that you thought of him or her. The thought and the action expressed together is an expression of love. Outside of the bigger gifts offer kind gestures as this is impactful as well. If you know they skip lunch at the office bring a packed lunch with their favorite foods or you can bring coffee to them.

Physical Touch

Using physical touch is a very power thing for your marriage. It is more than just sex, even though it is part of it. It is holding hands, hugging, kissing and showing affection. When this is a primary love language the lack of affection can really make your spouse feel bad. Try offering a hug before work and after work. Try kissing longer or holding an embrace longer. Make it a point to do little acts of affection daily and this will build over time to strengthen your relationship.

Acts Of Service

Acts of service can range from doing household chores like making the bed, vacuuming, emptying the dishwasher, cooking a meal and setting the table. This is an interpretation of love that doesn't need any words. This is where actions really speak louder. Seek out to do these things out of love not because you are a slave.

There is a difference as it helps your spouse and the household when you do chores. Scripture does call us to serve each other and our spouses are included. John 13:17 reads: “Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.” What does it say when our spouse makes a mess and never picks up? Well, it is interpreted as being lazy and it tells the speaker of this love language that their feelings do not matter.

You can become the person your spouse deserves Chapman said. God is in the business of changing lives. "Let Him give you the power to break old habits and replace them with acts of kindness and love. You can become the person, your spouse deserves," he said. God may be teaching us many things in our marriage and through our marriage. But don’t allow poor communication or not understanding your love language hinder you from enjoying the marriage God has for you. 

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