Making Love Last

If research shows the average life span of a romantic “in-love obsession” phenomenon is said to last about two years, what can we do to keep our “love tanks “full in a relationship after years of being together?

Gary Chapman uses the concept of “love languages” to describe the different ways people “speak” and understand love. According to Dr. Chapman, each of us primarily speak one of five love languages, which is the main way in which we emotionally communicate and connect with others. Knowing your love language allows you to better express your emotional needs to your partner while also understanding how to make him or her feel loved and satisfied in the relationship.

Chapman describes in his book “The 5 Love Languages” the different ways people express and experience love:

1. Words of Affirmation

For people with this love language, love is expressed with words. Verbal compliments can have a very powerful effect in meeting their emotional needs. Day-to-day compliments include “this shirt looks so good on you”, “you make me laugh so much”, “thanks for taking out the garbage” or “I love you”. Don’t underestimate the power of words, especially if this is your partner’s love language.

2. Acts of Service

If someone has this love language they believe that actions speak louder than words, so taking time to do the laundry or cooking dinner may be an expression of love.

3. Receiving Gifts

A thoughtful gift, such as picking up your partner’s favorite snack on the way home, can be very meaningful for someone with this love language. Some people feel most seen and recognized when given gifts, as simple as they are.

4. Quality Time

This love language is all about giving your partner your undivided attention, with no distractions. This may include talking a walk together or sitting on the coach with no TV or phones, just sharing your experiences, thoughts, feelings, and desires. Simply talking and listening strengthens the emotional connection of those with this primary language.

5. Physical Touch

To this love language, nothing is more impactful than the physical touch of your partner, so you feel most connected in a relationship when holding hands, kissing, hugging, etc. Without it, you probably feel unloved and all the words of affirmation and gifts in the world would not change that.

We must understand our partner’s primary love language as well as our own because if we don’t we can slowly drain our emotional love tanks. And the fact is that with empty love tanks, couples argue more and feel more disconnected.

However, if we meet each other’s emotional needs we will fill up the love tank so we can create a friendly climate that allows connection to deepen, differences to be understood, and problems to be negotiated more easily. In short, relationships will be strengthen and they will feel satisfactory and secure.

But, how can you identify your primary love language? You may simply just know by reading the description of the 5 love languages above as one may resonate with you much more than the rest. However, if you’re still unsure Dr. Chapman suggests using these three questions as a guide:

  1. What does your partner do or fail to do that hurts you most deeply? The opposite of what hurts most is probably your love language.
  2. What do you most often request of your partner? It is most likely what would make you feel most loved.
  3. In what way do you regularly express love to your partner? It may also be an indication of what would also make you feel loved.

Discovering your partner’s love language is equally as important, so ask yourself:

  1. How does your partner often express love?
  2. What does he or she complain about most often?
  3. What does he or she request most often?

Ask your partner: “How full is your love tank? What could I do to help fill it?” Be open to suggestions. Also, make sure to express your own needs to your partner, not by demanding but by requesting. As Gary Chapman says, “demands stops the flow of love and requests give direction to love”.

When we discover the primary language of our partner, we can choose to speak it. When we know our own love language we can choose to express our needs and make specific requests. We can choose to take steps to deepen our connection and our emotional security in a relationship every single day. Remember, as my mother says “love is not only a feeling, but also a choice.”