Pauline Peters, RP (Qualifying) #9412 is a Registered Psychotherapist (Qualifying) at MyLife Counselling in Guelph. She works with couples and individuals 18yrs and up through anxiety, depression, and relationship issues. Learn more about Pauline here.

Filling up the Love Tank

February is generally known as the “Love” month. For many who are engaged in love relationships and commitments, this month, and particularly February 14th can be a time of angst, sadness or loneliness due to struggles, challenges or disconnect in the relationship. Relationships, because they are a complex dynamic of two very different individuals with varying experiences, beliefs and history, can be frustrating. Two individuals trying to function as one unit, while at the same time, striving to maintain individual autonomy, can be perplexing at the best of times, and even more so when times are strained.

How does a couple stay connected? How can they maintain their friendship? How do they go about accepting each other’s influence, making amends and repairs, and continue to have fun? Relationships require work. It takes time. It takes full commitment and investment by both partners. It requires sacrifice and compromise. It requires effort and resolve. It requires conscious choice.

In my work with couples, I will often recommend to them the reading of “The Five Love Languages” by Dr. Gary Chapman. I have found this book to be a great resource for love relationships, and, if utilized, has the potential to bring about positive change for couples. Dr. Chapman, in this book, proposes that most people have five types of emotional love languages: Acts of Service; Quality Time; Words of Affirmation; Gifts, and Physical Touch.

“Acts of Service” might include actions such as cooking a meal, shovelling the driveway, or picking up the groceries.
“Quality Time” includes actions such as giving each other your undivided attention in ways that might include taking a walk together, having a coffee together after dinner, or making direct, gazing eye contact.
“Words of Affirmation” involves the intentional use of words that “build each other up” such as, “You are do such a great job with managing our finances” or “You look so good in that outfit!”
“Gifts” are often a visual symbol of love that can be expressed through flowers, jewellery or food, but is also a symbol of the thought behind the gift as well.
“Physical Touch” can be expressed through kissing, hugging, intercourse, or holding hands.

Dr. Chapman suggests that individuals will often express love to others, particularly their love partners, in the way that they need to receive love, rather than how their partner needs to receive love. However, knowing the love language of each other, can bring insight, understanding and awareness to the relationship.

For example (and in full disclosure), my top love language is “Gifts”. I LOVE to receive gifts. If there are flowers on my table or a chocolate bar left on the seat of my car, I feel love. I feel like I am valued, like I belong. It sets off the firing of the ‘feel good’ endorphins, causing me then to experience happiness and dare I say, even euphoria. However, for me, and many others, there is the tendency then to reciprocate that “Gifts” language back to the people in my own life. BUT… That is not their love language! If their love language is “Quality Time”, that is what they want and need spoken. They are not looking for what they do not need. They are not needing what I need (Unless of course that is their love language). They are needing the language that is native to them – the one that they understand most. If I spend “Quality Time” with the person that has my heart, that is what resonates… That is the meeting of the need, the speaking of the love language – that I have made them a priority in my schedule to just “be” together.

Knowing one another’s love language takes the guesswork out of what they need and allows expression of the need towards each other.

To quote Dr. Chapman (He speaks here in the context of a marriage relationship but I would contend that this can be applied across the various types of love relationships that currently exist.),

“I am convinced that keeping the emotional love tank full is as important to a marriage as maintaining the proper oil level is to an automobile. Running your marriage on an empty “love tank“ may cost you even more than trying to drive your car without oil… Understanding the five love languages and learning to speak the primary love language of your spouse may radically affect his or her behaviour. People behave differently when their emotional love tanks are full.”

Listed is the website in which the “Five Love Languages” quiz can be taken. Discover your love language. Learn your partner’s love language. I challenge you to start speaking the language needed to each other and see what good may result. You just might be pleasantly surprised at what positive change may occur and how this intentional speaking of the others’ need may strengthen and empower each individual, and the relationship itself.

Dare to take the quiz??

Cheers on learning a new language!

Pauline Peters, RP (Qualifying) #9412 is a Registered Psychotherapist (Qualifying) at MyLife Counselling in Guelph. She works with couples and individuals 18yrs and up through anxiety, depression, and relationship issues. Learn more about Pauline here.

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