I was always led to believe the saying, ‘actions speak louder than words’. There is no doubting the logic in this statement. However, through my work with couples and studying my own and other people’s ‘languages of love’, I have come to realise that actions speak louder for some than others, depending on their language of love.
Margaret (all client identities, genders and names have been disguised) worked full time in a job and was a great cook. She woke early every morning to clean the house and iron the children’s school uniform. She cooked two evening meals, so she could serve her husband delicious food after the children were in bed, she dressed the table, she dressed herself, she showed up every day. This to her was absolute love and the dedication of actions. Sadly it didn’t hit the spot for her husband and he left. He was drawn to someone else who thought every joke he made was funny, who affirmed his intellect and who admired the dimple in his chin, whose first actions on seeing him were to hug and touch him. Words and touch spoke more loudly to this man. This man is not a lousy, ungrateful s**t. he, like all of us, needed to feel loved by his partner and he could not read Margaret’s language of love and she was unaware of his language.
Andrew complained to his civil partner, ‘I spent 2 hours sitting on the sofa with you last week, eating popcorn and watching a movie and then you say we don’t have quality time together!’. His partner was unaffected by time spent this way because his language of love was about touch and quality time which includes, for him, eye contact. Andrew had effectively paid into a ‘love bank’ in dud currency and had satisfied neither of them.
So what are the five languages of love? These can be found in Dr Gary Chapman’s book of the same name*. They are 1) Words of Affirmation 2) Quality Time 3) Receiving Gifts 4) Acts of Service 5) Physical Touch.
Would you feel the most betrayed if you realised your partner was flattering another person or cooking for them? If you discovered your partner had been touching another or had bought them a gift or mended their lawn mower?
I only realised this week that words speak louder than actions for me, despite the logic of the opposite position! I expect that people will do things that are thoughtless, or hassle, or mistaken, things that affect me, make me sad, or stressed, or angry and I don’t judge these actions as proof that I am not loved by them – I too can impact other people negatively at times. What really makes me feel unloved is lack of empathy; I can get very hung up on whether someone has apologised or not for inconveniencing me and I can forgive instantly if offered words of understanding and empathy, e.g. ‘I’m sorry I left that mess for you to clear up’ works for me because I feel understood, better still, ‘You are a wonderful and kind woman and I love you’, is a massive pay in to my ‘love bank’ and will keep me going for weeks! Like Margaret’s husband I don’t need someone to do things for me, I appreciate it but it won’t hit the spot if someone wants to make me feel loved. I set great store by, ‘please, thank you, sorry’.
The opposite is true of Manjit, when her partner is late, or leaves the house a mess or doesn’t ask how her day was, she feels unloved, unconsidered and that her feelings are unimportant. Manjit likes ‘acts of service’ and gifts. An apology won’t work. She does feel loved when her partner buys her a gift or surprises her by cooking dinner and when she remembers to hang her wet towel up.
Many people feel that working 24/7 so they can buy their partner nice clothes and holidays is enough and are outraged to then find their partner wants them to make love to them as well! As if what they are already doing is not appreciated, not enough. It all comes down to love languages.
If you are feeling unloved, today’s blog is not a reason to blame your partner. Feeling unloved is your unhealed issue, your partner may be triggering awareness of it but they are not causing it. We can rant and rave or secretly ‘bash’ and criticise our partner for our feelings but this will not deal with the fear within that we are not loved.
Take a moment now and close your eyes, go deep within, into your heart and there beneath the anger, the resentment, the fear and the hurt, just connect with your heart, remember you are a loving soul, full of love to give and let that love expand out with each breath.
Smile into your heart until your heart smiles back at you. Ask yourself, ‘how can I be more loving to myself today?’ What understanding, actions, gifts do you need? What words do you need to hear? Give these to yourself.
When you are ready, (whether this is today, tomorrow, next year), then think about how you can be loving in the world, how you can connect with the loving soul you are and let your true loving nature shine in your life. Ask yourself, whose language of love do you need to understand?
We are all unique and we are all different and while it is not our partner’s job or our family’s job to make us feel loved, it helps make the world go round if we take the time to show our love. If we show this in the language of love that the other person can understand then we have struck gold!
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* Or google the languages on the internet and you can do a quick questionnaire to find out your own language.