ERP 090: How To Use Love Languages To Strengthen Connection – Part Two
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To learn more about Love Languages; a description of each Love Language, and how to determine you and your partner’s Love Language, check out the first part of this conversation on ERP 089.
(Please listen to the podcast episode or read the transcript to hear my stories and examples to describe these points.)
Can your Love Languages Change?
Depending on your life circumstances, you may become more attracted to a different love language, and your love language may change. For example, let’s say your love language has been “words of affirmation.” Then, you become a new parent, and your desire for “acts of service” grows, thus making your new primary love language “acts of service.”
Another example of a love language changing would be a husband looses his job and is feeling a lack of confidence and is feeling insecure. During this time, he may value “words of affirmation” more than his previous love language of “physical touch.”
Criticisms of the Love Languages
There are a few criticisms of the Love Language theory. Here are a few:
- They are too general and vague, and it doesn’t account for the psychology and complexities at play.
- The love languages are not based in academic or research-based findings.
- Gary Chapman is a Christian counselor and he brings his theology into the later portions of his book, which may be off-putting for some people.
- The Love Languages can be used to justify codependent tendencies. For example, you need your partner to provide love in a particular way and you view your partner as your only source of love. Another challenging dynamic is that of keeping tabs; “I’ll scratch your back, if you scratch mine.” In this case, partner’s give with strings attached or with an expectation of reciprocation.
The love languages can be a great tool to help you express love and care to your partner. If you truly understand their position and experience, then you will be more likely to want to help and support them to feel loved.
How Love Languages can be used to create a Positive cycle in your relationship
- Giving and receiving love and affection in ways that matter most (ways that resonate deeply and authentically) will help nurture and strengthen your connection with your partner.
- Love languages can be used to lift each other up, especially when delivered with a positive attitude.
- Using your partner’s love language will help build a spirit of generosity within your relationship.
- Within a positive cycle, you and your partner will be more motivated to continuously help each other.
- You can communicate explicitly. For example, “I am wanting to help you feel cared about and special. Here is one way I am thinking about doing this… Would that work for you?”
- When you give even just a little in the way of your partner’s love language, it will go a long way for them.
How Love languages contribute to Negative cycles in your relationship
- When partner’s lack of awareness, understanding or interest in the love languages, it can lead to miscommunications and misunderstandings.
- When love is not communicated (felt or received in a relationship), individuals can feel hurt, angry, and resentful.
- Love languages can be used to tear someone down (see examples below).
- Partner’s can unknowingly criticize each other’s love language, which can be even more painful (i.e. gifts are just materialistic).
- When partner’s experiences a lack of love in their language, or a rejection of their love language, they will often feel unimportant, unworthy, and unloved,
Here are some examples:
Words of affirmation:
Harsh words or tone of voice can be particular painful for someone with this love language. Just as positive words will lift your partner up, negative comments will tear them down.
Going long periods of time without physical connection could lead your partner to feeling unloved and discouraged. If you do not make any effort to reach out to touch them, they may feel hurt and unimportant to you.
Inappropriate or hurtful touch, like poking, prodding in a antagonizing way will be more upsetting for someone with this love language.
Act of Service:
Not following through with something you said you were going to do will result to feelings of hurt, disappointment, and upset. They will most likely feel as though you don’t really care when it comes down to it, especially when they hear words and see no action.
When one partner is frequently distracted or preoccupied, their partner can feel as though they don’t matter. They may have thoughts like “their phone is more important than I am. Or cleaning the house is more of a priority than I am.”
In times of distress, ignoring or stonewalling can be immensely painful for someone with this love language.
Overlooking gifts and thinking they are unimportant will often lead to feelings of hurt, upset, and pain for your partner. They may conclude that you don’t care or that you didn’t consider them.
Using Love Languages for the holidays
It is important to have honest conversations about expectations and hopes for the holidays, especially with consideration to love languages.
Typically, partners will go to great efforts to show love and affection to their partner and then feel let down when their partner doesn’t appreciate their gift. When dynamics are already strained, this disappointment can lead to resentment, unhappiness, and discouragement.
Talking about your expectations can help prevent hurt, tension, and conflict during the holidays.
Each person is going to come into the relationship with different family traditions. It can be helpful to talk about ahead of time what traditions you want to do together.
Which ones do you want to keep, which ones do you want to let go and what new ones do you want to create together?
Many couples are so busy with the additional events and ways of giving that they will lose connection with their normal ways of bonding. In this climate, couples can feel lonely and disconnected.
It is important to attend to the priority of your relationship. Can you do more together, rather than doing things separately? Or during a family event, can you take a moment to pay special attention to each other?
(Be sure to listen to the podcast episode or read the transcript to hear gift ideas for each love language.)
Do one thing in your partner’s primary love language. For an added bonus you could try a 7 day challenge. Maybe you make a conscious effort to touch your partner everyday or tell them something you appreciate about them. Or bring them a small gift to let them know you have been thinking about them. Let me know how it goes.
Click on this link to access the transcript for this episode: ERP 090: How To Use Love Languages To Strengthen Connection – Part Two [Transcript]
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