There is only one happiness in life, to love and be loved. George Sand

Love makes requests, not demands. Love doesn’t keep a score of wrongs. Love doesn’t bring up our failures.

Gary Chapman the author of The Five Love Languages was sitting in his airplane seat when his seatmate said. “What happens to love after the wedding?” His seatmate had been married three times, each time he was in love.

Keeping love alive according to Gary Chapman is serious business. We speak different love languages. The wife of an alcoholic picks up the pieces and calls it love, the psychologist calls it co-dependence. The parents indulge their children calling it love; the family therapist calls it irresponsible parenting. The Politician calls his affair love, the minister calls it sin. I did it for love is given for all kinds of actions.

Child psychologists tell us children have basic emotional needs. They have a love tank that needs to be filled. When the love tank is empty the child will misbehave.  The problem seems to be we want to love people the way we want to be loved, not necessarily the way that makes them feel loved.

In every deeply hurting person, could there be a love tank on empty?

The five love languages are:

Words of affirmation: You look good. Thank you for… You can always make me laugh. Verbal compliments are better motivators than nagging words. We should use kind words, encouraging words, humble words.

Quality Time spent together: If you feel people or your husband or wife doesn’t spend enough time with you, this could be your love language. Focused attention, quality conversation, learning to talk, learning to listen, quality activities are examples of time spent together.

Receiving gifts: Visual symbols of love are more important to some people than others. It is a reminder of love. Some people especially women whose love language is gifts are being called grabilicious. Men sometimes feel these women only see them as a wallet. It is possible to give someone gifts without breaking the bank. I think of the song “I’ll Give You a Daisy a Day.”

Acts of service: Doing things for others that pleases them, makes them comfortable. Cooking, cleaning, and washing the dishes, folding laundry, fixing the car, shoveling the snow before someone goes to work. Many people say “what do I have to do to make you happy?” The partners love language is probably not acts of service.

Physical touch: I’m not sure if this includes sex. I worked with a guy years ago he was very touchy-feely, not in a gross way. He was young and handsome then, now it might be taken a completely different way. We see couples holding hands; it is especially sweet when it’s an older couple. Back rubs are a way to offer touch, hugs, and holding hands.

If we are lucky and we have a partner or child that has the same love language as us life is probably pretty easy. We give what we want and they give what they want, we are as happy as can be.

Some of us have no clue what would make our partner or children happy, we don’t even know what makes our self, happy. One way to figure it out is to figure out what makes us unhappy.

Immature love says: I love you because I need you. Mature love says: I need you because I love you. Erich Fromm

According to Gary Chapman, we fall in love and that lasts a certain period of time. If we are adept at keeping each other’s love tanks full we don’t notice the euphoric “in love stage” has passed. If we don’t keep each other’s love tanks full we run on empty, and we can only do that for so long before the relationship falls apart. Many times when people feel they will never get the love they need at home, they give themselves permission to look elsewhere. An affair often ensues.

Compatibility may actually mean we speak the same love language; we easily fulfill each other’s needs. Even if this is true we may need a tune-up in our marriage as children, finances, responsibilities, and aging take their toll. If we can’t or don’t do the things we used to do that filled our love tanks, what can we replace it with that will fill the tanks again?

As our children become adults I believe is an especially sensitive time for couples. Our lives are changing and we are reaching new stages, but not stages we necessarily want to be entering. Our children are now living the life we enjoyed the most. It is easy to think that love is one of those things behind us too. When we look around there are happy couples that have enduring happy marriages. We can make an effort to be one of them by filling our own and our spouses love tanks.

Little kids know the importance of small gifts. Every year they pick my flowers on their way home from school to give to their mothers. I smile as I watch them do it. I remember picking Queen Anne ’s lace to give to mine.

Whatever the quality of our marriage, it can probably be better. If we hone in on the ways our spouse feels special, we can make our efforts count. If they would feel better if we sat down and had a conversation or held their hand instead of slaving in the kitchen we might both be happier. We can relax, they feel loved. There is nothing worse than feeling we are slaving away and feeling unappreciated. We need to get off the treadmill and figure out what our partner wants and find ways to give it to them.

Many of us keep doing more of what we think we should do and don’t see any improvement. Try something from each category and see what works. Life is an experiment. If the first thing we try doesn’t work we should try something else. We may feel we are risking further pain and rejection if we try. We are guaranteed more pain if we don’t. Be brave, be courageous, even be a fool for love. In six months we might be in a completely different relationship because we dared to take a chance on love.

Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage. Lao Tzu

To subscribe or leave a comment click on the picture and scroll to the end. Please subscribe, please comment.

See all 3 images