Have you ever wondered why some things your partner does leave you cold, or confused or vice versa?
Do you get exasperated because he never says he loves you? Even though when you question him, he says he does?
Do you wonder why it seems he just doesn’t get you?
Do you get frustrated and shut out when he just won’t talk?
Here are some of the things I hear my clients say, and the reasons why he may be acting that way –
He doesn’t tell me he loves me
We learn how to behave in relationships mainly from our parents, or caregivers. So, it’s useful to look at his family and how they interact with each other. Because it could be that growing up, emotions were never expressed in his family, and maybe still aren’t. If his parents didn’t say those words to each other or to your partner, it could feel really uncomfortable, and he probably feels embarrassed about saying them himself.
He never hugs me
Again, it’s likely to go back to what he experienced as a child. If his parents weren’t tactile, it would feel unfamiliar to him. There are times when it is related to child abuse, where touching, especially in certain places on the body, could trigger him. This has nothing to do with you, but it may seem really unfair, and difficult to understand, especially when the events happened so long ago.
He just won’t talk to me
Some people find it really hard to open up, and I think men especially do. Society expects them to be strong, and not show their feelings. We’ve all heard those comments, and may have even used them – ‘Stop being such a girl’ or ‘ Man up’. Little boys are treated differently from girls. They are discouraged from making a fuss if they hurt themselves. Whereas girls are more likely to be cuddled and made a fuss of. So, it’s not surprising that guys clam up and hide their emotions, in case they are made fun of. Again, if he grew up in a family that didn’t talk about things, he is likely to follow the same pattern.
So, I’d like to offer you a way of opening up the conversation and learning more about you, and your partner, which could help you connect better and deepen your relationship. While having fun at the same time!
The 5 LOVE Languages
In 1992 Dr. Gary Chapman wrote a book called the 5 Love Languages – How to Express Heartfelt Commitment to Your Partner. I’ve found that for the couples I work with this has been a revelation when it comes to their relationship, and a realisation of things they weren’t aware of, even when they had been together for a long time.
Once you understand your own and those of your partner, it can make a really positive impact on the way you communicate with each other, as well as deepen your understanding of each other.
I believe we can have several primary love languages. It’s just figuring out which are yours and which are those of your partner. You may recognise them intuitively, or you may have already figured them out. But if you haven’t yet, read on.
Words of affirmation
You are someone who needs to hear your partner say ‘I love you, and it’s even better if you hear the reasons why. You appreciate little notes thanking you for something you have done, or reassurances that you are an ok person, and that you are loved. Receiving praise for your achievements makes you feel good. You really appreciate words of kindness and appreciation, ‘Thank you, that was really nice of you’. ‘That meal was delicious’. The important point here is that saying those things without any real intention just doesn’t cut it. Saying ‘Love you’, routinely on the way out of the house or just before you turn over to sleep doesn’t have the same impact.
Are you one of those who enjoy tactile connection? This could include hand-holding, hugging or cuddles, even a touch on an arm or reassuring hand on your back can mean a lot to you. You most likely enjoy hand or body massages too, as you find touch calming and reassuring. Check out with each other what feels good, as some actions can feel really nice and even sensual, whilst others can be a real turnoff. Some women really hate their bum squeezed when their partner brushes past them, making them feel objectified, whilst others find it’s really sexy and a turn on.
You thrive and feel loved when your partner gives you their undivided attention. That means no other distractions whatsoever, including TV, phones or others being around.
You want to feel you are the most important person in your partner’s life at that moment. It can include preparing a meal or making future plans together, or even working on a project, such as decorating or gardening. But just hanging out together feels really good too.
You are someone who appreciates and flourishes when you receive gifts. It’s about the thoughtfulness behind the gift. The right gift is important to you, because it means you are understood as a person, and it means a lot that your partner has put thought and effort into understanding you.
It’s not about the size of the gift, a bar of your favourite chocolate, or being made a meal can be equally appreciated as a lavish gift. But again, the act needs to have intention behind it. A bunch of flowers at the service station or subscribing to a company to regularly have flowers delivered may not have the same effect if real thought isn’t behind it.
Acts of service
You are someone who appreciates someone taking some of your load, and responsibility. Maybe it’s carrying out chores, or ensuring you are financially secure. It could also be making a surprise meal. Being treated to breakfast in bed, which allows you to stay in bed longer and chill really means a lot.
If you don’t understand your partner’s Love Language, you are in danger of missing some vital information and responding to your partner in your love language rather than theirs. You can see how this can create real problems and dissatisfaction on both sides. Your partner is likely to feel unloved and unappreciated and you are likely to feel resentful, and disgruntled.
We all tend to ‘speak’ our own love language
As humans, we are going to assume that the love language that makes us feel good, is going to be the same for others. So, when someone else, like our partner, or even a friend doesn’t respond in the way we would, we can feel upset and not valued. As a result, we may stop bothering to show our care for others, as well as feel hurt that we aren’t receiving ‘love’ in our ‘language’.
By understanding your own love language and then going on to learn that of your partner, you can identify where there may be misunderstandings. Rather than dismissing your partner’s love language, be curious as to why it’s so important to them. I’ve seen so many couples just using this as a tick box exercise, instead of really exploring it in depth. They really miss the fact that it can open so many conversations, which in turn can deepen the relationship.
There are several free online Love Language quizzes, including some for children and teens too. So, why not have some fun with the whole family.