Loving your future spouse sounds like a no brainer, doesn’t it? Don’t we all think, “Well, of course I’ll love my spouse when we get married.” We tend to equate love with a feeling, thus changing our expectation to, “Well, of course I’ll have loving feelings for my spouse when we get married.” Loving feelings are great. The problem with your feelings is that your spouse won’t feel your feelings and therefore may not understand how much you care. Because of this, it is important to love each other tangibly.
Some of you are probably already familiar with Gary Chapman’s book The Five Love Languages. For those of you that are not, Gary Chapman lists five love languages which are physical touch, quality time, gifts, words of affirmation, and acts of service.
Consider why and when you feel most loved. Is it when you are being lovingly touched? Is it when you are spending quality time with someone special? Do those unexpected gifts make you feel appreciated or adored? Maybe you feel loved when someone does a chore for you that you hate (e.g., wash your dishes), or maybe you feel the most loved when someone affirms you with words (e.g., compliments, meaningful cards or letters, etc.).
After considering each of the five languages, let your boyfriend or girlfriend know which language is your top love language. Also, let him or her know which of the five is your secondary love language (i.e., many people have two that are close in importance). After determining which love languages are your and your sweetie’s top two, rate each of the five love languages from most needed to least needed (it is good for you to know which love language – or languages – your boyfriend or girlfriend needs the least because if you keep trying to show love in that language, you will probably become frustrated that your boyfriend or girlfriend isn’t noticing your efforts or showing appreciation).
For example, acts of service is my least needed love language. When someone does something nice for me, I appreciate it, but I don’t necessarily feel loved. If Eric’s primary love language was acts of service, but I never acted excited when he did something nice for me, he may become frustrated. At the same time, if I didn’t realize his love language was acts of service, it would not occur to me to show him love through service.
Chances are you and your honey have different primary love languages. Just because your languages differ does not mean you cannot show each other love adequately. It just means that you have to make a mental effort to remember to love him or her in the language he or she will most appreciate.
After discovering your primary and secondary love languages, and rating your love languages from most needed to least needed, make a list of five to ten appropriate ways your boyfriend or girlfriend can show you love in your language(s). If you are a quality time person, you may list going for walks with me, going to have coffee with me, reading with me, etc. After completing your lists, exchange them with each other. Make sure the items you list are realistic and appropriate (especially if your love language is physical touch). You don’t have to strictly adhere to the list, but let the ideas serve as a drawing board where you can come up with dozens of ways to show your boyfriend or girlfriend love in ways that will scream “I LOVE YOU!” to his or her heart.
So, it’s important to remember that it’s not that feelings of love don’t matter at all; but it is more important to recognize that it is action that precipitates those feelings of love.
What are some tangible ways you already show love to your boyfriend or girlfriend?