Written by Michelle Robinson
Welcome to Life-Chat. I look forward to sharing lots of tips to keep the sparkle in your relationships and strategies to tackle tricky dilemmas.
The focus of our column this month is ‘love-talk.’
What is ‘love-talk’, and why does it matter?
Well, although we think we speak the same language as our partner, it can feel like we are in foreign territory when it comes to love-talk.
Love-talk would be so much easier if everyone in a relationship spoke the same love-language. Unfortunately, this is so often not the case.
Let me give you an example of what I mean.
Jasmine’s love-language is Words. She needs to be told by her partner, Sean, that she is loved, that she’s attractive, that she’s smart, and that of all the women in the world, she is Sean’s only choice.
Sean isn’t very fluent in Jasmine’s love-language. He struggles to communicate his feelings, but he does love Jasmine. In fact, he’s entirely devoted to her.
Sean’s love-language is Practical Acts of Loyalty. He is hardworking, honest and supportive. Sean believes his love for Jasmine is obvious.
Unfortunately, Jasmine feels Sean doesn’t try hard enough to give her what she needs from a partner. Sean, on the other hand, feels overwhelmed by Jasmine’s constant search for reassurance.
One of the biggest challenges in any love-based relationship is to recognize your preferred love-language, while also appreciating the love-language of your partner.
Sometimes, it’s too easy to expect another person to fill a gap that sits inside us. Is it reasonable, for example, to expect someone else to plug a hole in our self-worth? Can a partner be expected to conjure up our self-confidence? I would suggest that the responsibility for my self-worth lies squarely with me.
Perhaps, if Jasmine developed a stronger sense of her own worth, she would rely less on Sean’s words to convince her she is lovable. That could be healthy for her, and their relationship.
Sean also needs to know that words matter to Jasmine. For Jasmine’s sake, he could work at new ways to express his feelings. Small notes, texts, a few loving words on a regular basis may be enough. It’s never too late to learn some new communication strategies.
When two partners appear to have a special closeness, it is not always because their preferred love-language is the same. It is more likely that each person has looked beyond their preferences and recognized all the ways in which their partner shows love. Not every one of these ways may make the heart flutter. However, if we reject options beyond our first preference, we may miss the gifts of love in front of us.
Finally, I would add that in a truly loving relationship, each person does their best to satisfy their partner’s deepest needs. There’s a huge difference between learning to express love in new ways, and being too disinterested to try. Love doesn’t let apathy into the conversation. Love-talk hates apathy most of all.
Have fun this month, thinking about what your preferred love-language might be. Of course, you probably have more than one, which offers options to those who care about you. Don’t forget to reflect on your needs as far as love-talk goes, and ask yourself whose responsibility those needs truly are.
Above all, stay connected in the best ways you know how. May you experience all relationships with loving eyes, tender talk and an open heart.
Until next month.