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One of the best books we read when we began this adventure of marriage more than two decades ago was The Five Love Languages: How to Express Heartfelt Commitment to Your Mate, a 1992 book by Gary Chapman. While thousands of writers have written blogs, books, and courses on successful intimate relationships, the principles that time and again have resulted in a lifelong joy between a husband and wife are generally stated as treating one another as each would like to be treated. Each is dedicated to being loving, kind, forgiving, and honest with one another. And in practice, this includes knowing what each other’s “love language” is – and following through regularly with these.
Some people have grown up rarely hearing a kind word or affirmation, and hunger for those. Some may treasure tangible expressions of love, in taking out the garbage, or driving a child to school, or installing that hallway mirror your partner has wanted; these are acts of service. Still others may enjoy a token or gift from time to time. For some, being raised in, or having experienced a condition where physical contact was absent or in a negative context, touch may be that person’s language. One of the more overlooked love languages, especially when both partners work, or work long hours, away from each other or have additional responsibilities, is having quality time.
My spouse and I have different but complimentary Love Languages. My wife loves affirmation, and I am one who enjoys quality time together. This week, we have the opportunity to spend a few days together in the Sierras near Yosemite National Park. The little lodge, which we have stayed in before, is welcoming and comfortable. Whether the clouds tomorrow bring a forecast of snow, neither of us mind. We bring warm jackets, snacks, wine and books. These will be acceptable alternatives should the weather rebuff the AWD (All-Wheel Drive), tire chains and spirit of adventure in the Valley an hour’s drive away.
There is no living person who can claim to have the solution to a perfect relationship. But a common foundation, whether Buddhist, vegan, or outdoors-people, helps two imperfect human beings to move closer to harmonious living. The ideas that each have a certain love language, helps each partner to treat the other as they would wish to be treated. If you have difficulty understanding what your partner needs and wants, and you feel that there is something within yourself that is limiting your joy, obtain the book by Chapman.