Learning to Love

So, in my pursuit to be prepared for marriage I have started to look into literature on the matter. Not that I’m very excited about reading up on such things, but I figured I would do what I could to attempt to better myself and be “ready” for spending the rest of my life with another human being. Not that I actually think that anyone is “ready” for that step, but I definitely want to be prepared for things, because at least I’ll have tools and resources to reach out to when things are not in an ideal place. Education will not one day wake up and decide to leave me after all like a husband can. So I figured at least I’d be able to get a jump start on things.

I’ve been told about that “Five Love Languages” book for for a while now. I decided to give it a look into, so on Sunday I went to the church library and picked it up. I started reading it when I went over to my parents house to visit and talk wedding and house hunting stuff that afternoon. I was waiting for them to get themselves ready for going out to lunch after church when I began, and by the time they were ready I was through the first two chapters. It was that easy of a read.

For how easy it was to read, it’s content was extremely rich. It used a combination of psychology, anthropology, faith, and storytelling to really offer enriching information about identifying love languages in your spouse as well as in yourself. Though, I admit, I had a hard time personally identifying my love languages because they all felt pretty important to me. By the time I was finished reading the book and I decided to take the quiz at the end of it, I was not surprised to discover I was love bilingual, but I was more surprised in what.

The five love languages are as follows: Quality time (undivided attention), words of affirmation (consistent encouragement), gifts (when you receive gifts or tokens from people), acts of service (when someone takes care of something for you), and physical touch  (both sexual and non-sexual affectionate physical contact). All of these are important to people, but the point of the book is to figure out which is more primary. Which of these makes you feel most loved when it is recieved from your significant other? After taking the quiz I discovered that I had two that were equally important to me and my order of importance of all of them were as follows:

1) Quality Time and Acts of Service

2) Gifts

3) Words of Affirmation

4) Physical Touch

I was surprised by these. Mostly because it was pleasant to know that my fiancé was going to be able to have more ways to show me he loves me, which makes it all easier allegedly. But, still I was surprised to find out that receiving gifts was such an important part of how I feel love. I was not raised being given things usually. No did I feel very materialistic. But apparently part of my ability to feel loved came from people giving me gifts. Something I often denied myself of. Something I often felt like I struggled with internally. How to receive gifts without feeling selfish.

The other thing that surprised me about all of this was that physical touch came dead last for me. I always felt like I was pretty affectionate and often needed or wanted snuggles, which I thought had been a reason why long distance had been such a hard way to conduct relationships. Turns out more of that was because I was lacking in quality time. I was not in fact as affectionate physically as I thought. That was very interesting to discover. Though, after some thought, I reasoned that was probably why it had been so easy for me to remain a vergin this long. If physical contact was not how I felt love, then sexual contact would not be something I sought out. It would have to be something I would have to learn.

Of course, immediately after learning my love language order, I found a link to an online version of the quiz, and I had my fiancé take it. His order was as follows:

1) Physical Touch and Quality Time

2) Words of Affirmation

3) Gifts

4) Acts of Service

I was happy to know we both were love bilingual. I was also happy to know that we were compaitble in that we at least spoke one of the same languages fluently: Quality Time. However, I found myself fretting a bit at the fact that Physical Touch was something I knew I’d struggle in. After realizing how little it meant to me, I began to realize that most of my physical interactions with him were initiated by him. I was concerned by this. Was I really spending enough time giving him the love he required to feel fulfilled in our relationship? At a distance, how much harder was it for him to feel a need for touch and time with me, when we couldn’t be near. Since acts of service make me feel loved just as much as quality time I still benefited from the distance. He could still do things for me even when he was far away. He once used his internet connection to help me pay a bill online while I gave him my info over the phone. I had really appreciated that. He often prays with me over the phone when I’m struggling with things. He’s looked into things for me as we plan this wedding. He also was saving money to help pay for the wedding. That really makes me feel important and valuable. But what was I doing for him? What could I do?

I realized I was at least falling back on giving him encouraging words. I told him how much I loved and appreciated him. I told him that I was proud of him when he took initiative. Dare I say it, I’ve even told him that when he helps me with things that it turns me on, because it does. He’s so sexy when he pays bills and does things to show me he’s responsible. He’s super hot when he helps me do things. I feel loved by him more and more when he prays with me and for me. So I do what I can to at least encourage him and let him know that I love him.

Very eye opening stuff. He’s promised me he’s going to read it so that we can both be on the same page. Now that he realizes acts of service are a primary love language for me, he understands how important it is for him to do what I request. I realize now that since his need for words of affirmation is all I can offer him at this distance, that I need to make sure I’m actually asking him to do things and not demanding that he does things for me or nagging about them. That’s very important to me. Believing in our equality as a couple makes this so much easier for us as well. Knowing that we can set realistic goals for one another because we know each others strengths and weaknesses and don’t believe in the concept of “gender roles” as a substantial or sustainable form of order in our relationship.

Really great book in all. Opened my eyes to things I suspected and needed confirmed. Opened my eyes to things I never knew. Just an awesome and easy read that can really help develope a positive change in a relationship. Highly recommend it.

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