Loving Your Partner

Developing True Intimacy

Recently, a client asked me “How can I love my partner better?”

That’s one of the best questions we can ever ask ourselves and our partners.

Let’s start by looking at it this way. You are already well on your way by simply asking. There are multiple resources available. We’ve already briefly mentioned some of my favorites: Dr. Gary Chapman’s Five Love LanguagesDr. Emerson Eggerichs Love and Respect; and even the Prepare-Enrich program hit my top list. Then there are books available on increasing intimacy, such as  Dr. Kevin Leman’s Sheet Music. Please let me know if the links do not work properly.

This topic will take some time to cover, and I will do my best to bring in some guest authors and some of our mentors who have a different insight in this subject.

Next, we’re going to briefly examine the first on our list. I tried explaining more about the Five Love Languages (FLL) and how it looks in marriage. The website displays five badges, each with a title and a meaning. First up, we have Words of Affirmation, followed by Acts of Service, then Receiving Gifts, Quality Time, and finally, Physical Touch. Now, gentlemen, patience.

1. What are words of affirmation? The simple explanation, if you click on the badge, is that “This language uses words to affirm people” – well, that was helpful. Let’s look elsewhere. According to Webster.com, affirmation can mean:

1 a :  the act of affirming b :  something affirmed :  a positive assertion. An alternative definition is “the act of saying or showing that something is true”.

Words of affirmation raise someone up, encourage them, speak to the positive truths in their lives, and are ultimately kind. What truthful words do you speak in love to your partner?

2. What are acts of service? “Actions that speak louder than words” – these actions convey that you really, truly love your partner.The definition of service is as follows:

  1. a : the occupation or function of serving <in active service>b :  employment as a servant <entered hisservice>
  2. a : the work performed by one that serves <good service>
    b : helpusebenefit <glad to be of service>
    c :  contribution to the welfare of others d : disposal for use <I’m entirely at your service>

CONTRIBUTION to the welfare of others. For me, it’s someone bringing me a cup of coffee or tea and knowing my preference. It’s someone washing the dishes for me when I’m too tired to do so, or just because they know I don’t like to that particular chore. It’s someone seeing what needs to be done and just doing it. Those are actions that say the individual knows, sees, acknowledges, and does.

3. Receiving gifts means that “For some people, what makes them feel most loved is to receive a gift.” These gifts do not have to be bought – they can be handmade; it’s more that the thought has been put into it, consideration of the recipient – you have come to know your partner, know what s/he likes, and you want to make them happy. It can be a simple thing, like a scarf, or a watch, or it can be a bigger item – just because. Just because you thought about him or her, or something reminded you of your partner.

4. Quality time says  “This language is all about giving the other person your undivided attention.” It’s not necessarily about the number of minutes you spend with your partner, but that you’re making every minute count. You’re being mindful of the situation, of your partner, of his/her feelings. You spend time with your partner without making him or her feel guilty, or that you’re making a huge sacrifice to be available.

and lastly, men, this one’s not just for you, either!

5. Physical touch means that “To this person, nothing speaks more deeply than appropriate touch.” Pay attention here: APPROPRIATE TOUCH. Not abusive. Not harsh. Kind. Fitting the situation. Not demanding (unless the situation calls for it – because you’re protecting someone weaker than you. At no time is physical abuse ever appropriate.) This can be hand-holding, a pat on the back, massaging someone’s shoulders, hugging, or any other number of appropriate touch ways. It’s not to force someone, or to get your own way. It’s not to coerce, cajole, or sway. And it’s certainly not to overpower someone.

How does all this correlate to loving your partner? Stay tuned. We’re going to explore these areas and more as we go through the next several weeks.

To find out your own love language, visit 5 Love Languages.

How do you speak and receive love?