The ONE thing you need to know to dramatically improve relationships immediately!
The other day I remembered about a glorious short book that was an enormous Aha for me. I even thought that we should be taught this from kindergarten!
How does it help one’s life?
I have had a tense relationship with my mother since about 11. She is a strong willed woman and at about the same age, we, the kids, remained in her care because my dad was always gone for work. So, in order to compensate for a missing parent authority in the house, she became even tougher. All those years (and for about 2 decades long) I felt as if my mother loved me less and less. Sometimes I even perceived her actions and reactions towards me as hate.
She worked a full time job, then had to take care of the house, the family farm, the two children that needed to go to school, to make food. Talk about a full time job? With this much on her plate, she felt overwhelmed. Often, she would burst and yell at us. Over time, this became the default communication style towards us. That is also because we opposed resistance to her authoritarian style, as we became teenagers and we felt entitled to our own opinions, free time and the right to do whatever we felt like.
At that point, what hurt me the most were her outbursts. The fact that she criticised me every day, always pointing out what I was doing wrong made me judge her very much in turn. She was very hard on what specifically I was not doing in helping her. A vicious cycle. I thought: how could she not see and acknowledge how many more things I am doing right than doing wrong or missing?
Then, at one point, I think it was before I turned 25, someone mentioned very briefly: “Oh, have you heard about the Five Love Languages?” Mmm.. that made me so curious! I found the book and read it in an afternoon. The effect was WOW!
Psychologist Gary Chapman observed during his longtime practice with couples that we, as individuals, perceive love in different ways. So he put together his experience and observations into his book: The Five Languages. These are as follows:
- Words of affirmation
- Acts of Service
- Receiving Gifts
- Quality Time
- Physical Touch
Gary Chapman explains that most of us have a primary love language and a secondary one; the extent to which that blend can happen leads to us being so different! Also, he noted that we tend to show love in our own love language! (While not being consciously aware of the love language of the other!) He suggests that we try to understand how the other perceives love. This can be done observing what makes him/her very pleased and what makes him/her grumpy and what they complain about most often. The key to improve relationships, he claims (and I agree), is expressing your love in the love language of the other!
As I was reading this for the first time, it crossed my mind: “Well, aren’t words of affirmation the very core of love? I mean, isn’t that built in by default in all people?” … Hm! Turns out it’s not by default. And then, 30 minutes longer into reading, I had the big Aha! My primary love language is words of affirmation, whereas for my mother it was acts of service!
WOW! My mother didn’t put too much price on saying how important I am to her. Neither on expressing to me her appreciation of how well I am doing, although she did appreciated. In turn, she was very turned on when I didn’t do stuff she expected me to, because to her, this was me not showing respect and appreciation to her needs (aka love). The other way around, my mother considered she showed us everyday how dedicated she was to us, how much she cared. She was working non stop, trying to do for us all we needed on various areas of our life. (I must admit, while being teenagers, we kind of felt entitled to being taken care of. We didn’t understood how much that meant).
The years passed and now I’m a mother too. Thankfully, I started to understand what being a mom is, having a full time job, needing to take care of cooking, chores around the house, providing care and education AND keeping a good mood and a calm, loving attitude while feeling overwhelmed. It’s damn hard! My glass is almost always full and often, any extra drop makes me burst. I now have the direct experience to understand a bit of what my mum was going through, for years and years.
Going back to this amazing resource, The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman – I definitely recommend reading it, for a full understanding. It will be illuminating! This can help improve relationships with parents, the life partner, your children, your friends and so much more! Think of the possibilities!
Also, what I did, at an early stage of my current relationship: I explained the concepts to my partner and we spent a few minutes doing our profiles online for free, on the official website of 5 Love Languages! You can build your profile there not just for lovers, but for your child also! Then, we compared the results. That was very helpful to understand early on that my partner had a primary love language of quality time! It cut me maaany possible frustrations and quarrels, that’s for sure, and not only prevent damage but actually improve relationships!
So, give it a try! Or have you applied this info before? What other similar resources you found that were really cool and revealing with so little effort?
All the best!