You have hundreds, if not thousands of relationships in your lifetime. Some seem to be effortless, others you have to work at. Should we have to work at our relationships or chalk them up to not being right? First, let me say that when I use the word relationship I don’t necessarily mean a courting or dating relationship. We have relationships with our family, friends, neighbors and coworker as well as our romantic partners.
Several years ago when I was having difficulty in my romantic relationship I discovered a wonderful theory in a book called The 5 Love Languages, by Gary Chapman. I wholeheartedly agree with Gary’s philosophy that we each give and receive love in different ways. Gary states that we have a primary and secondary way of showing and receiving love. Love isn’t just love, it’s that feeling that any one of your relationships is working. The theory is also states that the way you show your appreciation and love is also the way you receive it. The 5 main principles are: Acts of Service, Physical Touch, Receiving Gifts, Quality Time and Words of Affirmation. In my research on his theory, I have found that typically the way you were raised has a lot to do with the way you give and receive love, though not completely. Gary’s theory is that we need to adapt ourselves to those that mean the most to us to properly show them how we care for them.
Let’s use my friend Meredith as an example, her primary is Words of Affirmation and her secondary is Quality Time. Her fiancé, Mike’s primary is Physical Touch and his secondary Acts of Service. Meredith doesn’t always feel loved by Mike because he shows her that he loves her by holding her hand, or sitting next to her and cuddling with her, he takes out the trash and takes care of her car for her. Meredith needs to hear Mike’s appreciation for her and have him around more. In order for Mike to really show Meredith how much he loves her needs to talk to her more about and make more of an effort to spend time with Meredith.
The theory is simple, figure out what your partners’ (in any kind of relationship) language is. Adapt how you show them love to their language. Once you learn to speak their language they will feel valued by you. It’s easier to say than to do. This change will take conscious effort, on your part because your natural language might not be the same as theirs. Adapting to their language will show them that you care as well as help you to understand how they feel about you. Over the years I have adapted this theory among many of my relationships and it has improved several of those relationships.
Do you have someone in your life that never seems appreciative of you doing something for them? Perhaps adjusting your language with them (above) will help to correct the course of this relationship. Or, perhaps its something deeper. My sister for example doesn’t say thank you. It drives me up the wall, as I consider that simple common courtesy. However, someone she feels entitled, she’s the youngest in my family and was freely given everything. I think some of this is her lack of courtesy but don’t feel like it is entirely that. I have a friend in my life that doesn’t say thank you either. Small or large gestures you will not hear those two small words from his mouth. I don’t believe that entitlement is his issue. I think with him, and several other people that I know, it is hard for them to admit when they need help. (I could fall into this category except I please and thank you my way in and out of everything). I am head strong, I don’t like being told what to do and I don’t like feeling like feeling incapable of doing things. Sometimes, asking for help makes me feel defeated. As I’ve gotten older and had to learn to ask for help more and more I am no longer ashamed of asking for help. I am very appreciative of help whenever and wherever I can get it. I have found that older people don’t easily usually come to this conclusion as they don’t like to ask for help and if you’re language is acts of service, often, you will feel unappreciated, sometimes, by your own family or loved ones. Don’t take these issues personally; it will eat at your relationship. Adjust your language with them to their language. You will both lead a happier life!