Happily Ever After

Discovering the Languages of Love

    I hope that you have at least tried the exercise suggested in last month's issue, exerting a deliberate daily effort to make your mate's life more pleasant. My theory is that over time, acts of kindness foster friendship, intimacy and deep love and that they eventually come boomeranging back in a big way.
    If you have been practicing, hopefully your husband has taken note of your new attitude of kindness toward him. If not, you may not be speaking his language. We all know that men are from Mars. But in addition to "Martianese," it's quite possible that your husband speaks an entirely different love language as well. In Gary Chapman's book, The Five Love Languages, he points out that we all speak our own language in terms of how we express love and what we interpret as love. I highly recommend this book to anyone who is married, has ever been married, or who is even contemplating marriage. First of all, it will help you interpret your partner's language. But more importantly, it will give you insight into your own.
    Looking back, I can tell you exactly what made me fall in love and stay in love with my now deceased husband. He spoke my language, which was and is "words of affirmation." He told me daily how beautiful, smart, special, talented. I was. If I cooked him a hotdog, it was the best hotdog he ever ate. I chose to believe it, and those affirmations made an incredible difference in my overall confidence and self-esteem.
He was also a big gift-giver. I can tell you the occasion and story behind every piece of jewelry I own. When he went to the gas station to pump my gas (because he thought it was a disgrace for a woman to have to pump gas) he came home with a sack full of candy. If he went out to breakfast without me, he brought home a surprise cookie or pastry for me. Once he came home with a sack of green beans, topped off with a snakeskin belt I had admired in a store window.
    I highly recommend that all men take a course in gift-giving as a second language. It can't hurt! But as much as I enjoyed the gifts, the most important thing to me was hearing his words of praise. I don't think he ever understood it, but he gave it and gave it freely. I was blessed.
    Many men thrive on an ego boost. And if you are married to a man whose primary love language is "words of affirmation," I don't care what else you do, give him that. As a former school teacher, I learned this technique with children. You will get a lot further praising them for what they are doing right than scolding them for what they are doing wrong. Works the same way with husbands. Generally speaking, men place a lot of stock in their careers and ability to provide. Don't take that for granted.
    Pay attention to what he does, and tell him how much you appreciate his hard work. Tell him you are proud of him, and tell him why.
    Be specific-whether he is the best weed-whacker in town, bravest bug squasher, hottest lover or he just smells great. Once he is aware of the behaviors that earn your praise, you are likely to see them more often.
    Now, it might be that you are married to a man who speaks and understands an entirely different love language. Some men thrive on quality time. I'll never forget hearing a divorced man tell the story of his marriage: "She was the perfect wife," he said. "She cooked, raised the children, cleaned the house, taught Sunday school." "So why did you leave her for another woman?" I asked. "She never had time for me," he answered.
    In other words, this woman was knocking herself out, doing everything she thought a good wife should do, yet the result was an unhappy man. Why? She didn't understand his love language. He would have taken her out to dinner every night, hired a maid and a babysitter, only for a little more time and attention from her. For the record, I do not believe this is a valid excuse for divorce, but it happens, ladies. Wake up.
    In addition to words of affirmation, receiving gifts and quality time, the other love languages defined in the book are: acts of service and physical touch.
    My current husband is a "quality time" guy, perhaps because his time is so limited. He needs my time-to do things together-even if it's just to ride with him to the Home Depot on Saturdays. I am his best friend and he is mine. He's a hard worker, not a frequent gift-giver, but great with acts of service. I appreciate those gestures, but am teaching him to understand that I need the words. I think he's getting it. By the way, he's also a fabulous foot rubber-a behavior I encourage.
    Obviously, we communicate in all the languages to some degree. To be quite honest, I have never known a man for whom physical touch wasn't important, and we are going to discuss that next month. But the sooner you discover your mate's PRIMARY love language, the sooner you will start building a stronger relationship. Only then can you begin to tailor those daily acts of kindness to meet his specific needs. The rewards will be immeasurable.
    On the flip side, when you figure out your own primary love language, speak up. Your husband may or may not be willing to read the book, but if you can zero in on your own language and somehow communicate that to him (without nagging or criticizing), you are way ahead in the marriage game. It might take him a while to catch on, but once he gets it, you are going to be one happy woman!

    I have no connection whatsoever with the author of this book and receive no commission from any sales. I beg you to read The Five Love Languages, by Gary Chapman. It will give you insight not only into your marriage, but into all your relationships, including your parents, your children, other relatives and friends. Next month we're going to talk about the universal language of marital bliss. Hint: it's about sex and a lot more.
Writer's qualifications: Ph.D. in marriage from the School of Hard Knocks. I am a lady who loves being married-not because my marriage is perfect, but because the joy it brings me is worth every ounce of energy I invest in it.
    The information presented here is not intended to replace professional advice or marriage counseling. Send your questions or topic requests to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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