The Importance Of Loving Your Partner With An Eye To Their Love Language And What To Do If You Find It Challenging

 

Embraced African American couple talking in dining room.

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As much as being in a fulfilling romantic relationship can bring immense joy to someone’s life, being given the task of loving an equally complex human will naturally come with challenges. Thanks to the work of Dr. Gary Chapman, an established marriage counselor and author of The 5 Love Languages, we have been given a toolkit to aid in combating the challenges of relationships. The 5 Love Languages book helps readers become an expert not only on how they are best loved, but also how they can effectively love those who matter the most to them. 

Chanta Blue, LCSW, CST,  is a relationship & sexuality therapist as well as the co-owner of Blue Counseling and Wellness Center. Blue unpacked the importance of understanding and practicing your partner’s love language, utilizing a toolkit such as Dr. Chapman’s, rather than drawing from any preconceived notions of how you think your partner wants to be loved. 

“We’re not mind readers, so if we are only just putting out there what we think they need, we’re assuming that this is the love language that they receive the most affection and tension from,” said Blue. 

Eliza Boquin, MA, LMFT, is the co-founder of Melanin & Mental Health, and a sexuality & relationships therapist. In an interview conducted via email, Boquin shared her thoughts on the importance of knowing, and expressing your particular partner’s love language rather than leaning into assumption. 

 

“The reason that it’s important for us to express our love in the way that our partners receive it, or rather their love language, is because they are telling us what makes them feel the most seen, the most heard,” Boquin said. “At the end of the day all of us just want to feel seen, we want to feel heard, we want to feel affirmed, we want to feel that we matter, that we’re valued, that we are celebrated, and so if I am wanting to impose my preconceived notion of love on people, then that’s more about me.” 

 

A day spent buying your partner an arrangement of peonies may mean everything to them if their primarily love language is receiving gifts, but very little if they thrive off words of affirmation. The fix sounds simple enough in theory: speak your partner’s love language. But what if the way your partner needs to be loved is not only quite different from how you usually express love, but also proves to be a challenge? If this situation sounds similar to what you’ve experienced, you are not alone. 

Blue and Boquin shared that they both frequently work with clients experiencing difficulty speaking their partners’ love language. 

“I often work with people who have a difficult time expressing themselves in their partner’s love language in the way that their partner wants,” said Boquin. “Whatever the makeup of the relationship may be, we are individual beings with our own personal backgrounds that are often different from our partners backgrounds,” Boquin continued. 

 

What Can Be Done? 

Blue shared the importance of continued dialogue, and being honest about your unfamiliarity or hesitation in expressing your partner’s love language. “Communication is going to be key here between partners, and sharing you know I’m not 100% comfortable, and this love language is not something I have a lot of experience in,” said Blue.  

It’s easy to lean into anxiety when it comes to things about our partner that we do not fully understand. This is why Blue emphasized that couples should work on fostering a strong understanding of what effectively expressing each other’s love language actually looks to each partner.

“You may think that your partner needs these extravagant and over the top displays to feel loved and appreciated, but sometimes it’s subtle things that you could do within their love language,” Blue said. “But if you don’t know that, if you haven’t talked to them about it, and asked them specifically what they enjoy about that particular love language, you might get stuck in your head a little bit in terms of not wanting to do the wrong thing, or thinking you have to do like way too much that you really don’t have to do.” 

To further illustrate how specific desires and needs can vary by two people who have the same love language, Blue shared an example of how the receiving gifts’ love language could vary. “Folks love music and you know sharing a good playlist with somebody could fall under the umbrella of gifts if you specifically create a playlist for a partner,” Blue said. 

In other words, before breaking into a sweat about the financial pull of being in a relationship with someone who’s primary love language is receiving gifts, first understand what they consider a gift. Now, if a person fully understands what their partner’s love language looks like in practice and is still struggling to express it, sometimes a deeper look is required. 

Think of someone who not only has a low physical touch score on  “The Love Language Quiz” themselves, but also struggles to express love through physical touch, trying to navigate a relationship with someone who immensely values it. 

According to Boquin, “there might be a lot of reasons why someone is uncomfortable with physical touch that goes beyond this is just not familiar to me, this is uncomfortable to me.” 

“We always want to be aware of any trauma in our histories that could also be impacting why we show up the way we show up or don’t show up the way that we show up,” Boquin continued. 

However, in a scenario where the person experiencing difficulty around expressing their partner’s love language is not rooted in trauma, Boquin urged couples to get out of their comfort zone. “If we’re going to assume there is no trauma, what I would say is allow it to be uncomfortable,” Boquin said. 

“Often we will shy away from things, especially trying new things in our relationship, you know in terms of communicating a different way or you know expressing ourselves in a different way, and because we tell ourselves well this is not natural to me; this feels forced,” Boquin said. “I always remind people, yeah it’s not natural to you. What’s natural to you is what you’re doing. Just because it doesn’t come naturally to you, it doesn’t mean that it’s not meant for you. It doesn’t mean that it’s a bad thing.” 

Originally posted 2024-03-01 21:45:36.


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