Have you ever received a gift from your partner and wondered what they were thinking? Or maybe you spent hours researching the best deal for them on an item they were thinking of buying and the response was – lackluster?

     Trouble arises in how people interpret love and express it. We know what we know, but don’t know what we don’t know. Meaning, we tend to work from our own ideas of what constitutes love. We learn at home, within our families, how mom and dad do things, or how they interact with us. We are often unaware that like most everything else, there is more than one way to do things. In this area, it is unfortunate, because misinterpretation can lead to judgment and a movement away from fostering the love we feel.

The languages of love

      Author and marriage counselor, Dr. Gary Chapman brings forward  the idea of the “5 Languages of Love.” He suggests that each of us has primary ways of understanding expressions of love. The 5 that he lists are – words of affirmation, acts of service, receiving gifts, time together, physical touch.

     I hadn’t really thought of that before and I would bet most of us haven’t. It certainly helped me understand the times when I have felt really loved and when I have felt let down. It also helped me realize when my partner was expressing love as he knew it and the hurt he must have felt when it went unacknowledged.

     For instance I really care about time together and physical touch, but less so about gifts or about acts of service – such as my car being washed. I notice it, but I don’t feel bathed in the love of someone. Take time out of your day though, do something with me, and that is special indeed.

     We tend to give what we want and can feel rejected or judged if that doesn’t happen to match up with what our partner is looking for, or what it is that we want.  For myself, I now have a very important tool in not just getting what I need, but also in stepping up to make the effort for those I love, in the ways that fill their hearts.

     Presumably you want your relationship to thrive and the best way of doing so is to acknowledge what it is you are seeking and ask what your partner, child or other loved ones in your circle need. You might be surprised.

Knowledge gives you a chance to re-write your love stories

     Once you know, then you can re-write some of the stories you may have created about how much you are loved or cared for. Release the hurt, the judgment and the sadness and instead re-kindle appreciation, love and kindness. That seems like one of the best love outcomes I can think of.

     As you approach Valentine’s Day, and the rest of your life, explore these expressions of love. What is it that speaks to your heart? What speaks to those you love? Once you know this, act on it and enjoy the results.

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