Love is a mystery still to most in the world. Science, psychology, art, and even literature have all tried to define it. What I found over the many conversations I have had in my career working with families is that love looks different to all of us.
Love is a mystery still to most in the world. Science, psychology, art, and even literature have all tried to define it. What I found over the many conversations I have had in my career working with families is that love looks different to all of us. The beginning of my exploration into how love is expressed started with a conversation among coworkers. Both in healthy and evolving relationships, but each with a different vision of love. I shared my analysis, for lack of a better word, with my mom one night on the phone.
My parents have been together for what seems like forever to me because I have been there for most of the relationship. They met in their teenage years and have gone through the hills and valleys of married life, adding 5 children to the mix over the course of almost 3 decades. The fun part is growing up with your young parents allows you a front row seat to the evolution of love and how that can change over the course of time.
When talking to my mom, I shared with her that my coworkers were on two opposite sides of the spectrum for how love should be expressed in a relationship. One thought consistency and helping with the children and housework was the ultimate sign of love and devotion to their marriage. The other believed that it was the little things like “just because” flowers or little gifts that let them know their significant other thought of them. As I shared this with my mom, she added her own idea of what love looked like to her. For my mom, love was a combination of the quality time spent and the support offered in a relationship and the expression of appreciation of the other’s opinions and beliefs.
All three women stated that they showed “love” in the way they would like to receive it. In thinking back to my career and families I have encountered, the same answers had been reported to me. Then the “AH HA” moment occurred.
Love can be viewed two ways. As an action or as a noun. For the purpose of this article, I am talking about the verb – the act of loving your partner and the actions you take to show “what love looks like” to you.
It goes without saying the old cliché comes to mind “Treat others how you would like to be treated.” By a show of hands… or comments… how many of us have treated others the way we wanted to be treated and noticed people do not always react similarly. This parallels what I learned.
Love (the verb) does not come with a guidebook to say this is how it could be acted upon. We all have our own way of showing our partners our deep connection. But what happens when the way I act out love is not like my partner? There often becomes a disconnect in the relationship. One or both end up feeling that the other does not love the same. Good news! This is not necessarily the case for all couples.
Common sense kicks in and says “okay, so change the way you express love.” This would be great if you could be open with your partner and ask them, “What does love look like to you?” I have found that this is one of the more difficult conversations to have in a relationship. Why? As humans we are born to connect, but moving through society we learn to fear rejection. If we broach the subject, there is a feeling that resonates within some that throws up the signs saying “Do Not Enter.” We need to take down the signs and learn that communication is key. If we are going to love our partners, we need to speak the same “love language.”
Have you ever tried to speak to someone who spoke a language that was different from your own? Think about how the conversation went. There is a good chance it involved hand gestures, pictures on paper, and awkward tones in both of your voices. Love works the same way! If you are speaking a different love language, there is a chance miscommunication is occurring!
The best way to understand your love language is by finding out first what your language is and sharing it with your partner. How, you ask?
Simple, type “The 5 Love Languages” into Google and take the quiz created from Gary Chapman’s book The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love That Lasts! I have read the book and found that I closely related to what I had learned from my co-workers, friends, family, and clients.
I encourage everyone I meet to take the quiz! You might learn something new about your partner as well as your family and friends. Let’s make talking about our feelings and actions the norm! What does love look like to you? Share in the comments what your results are or stories of how love looks between you and your partner!
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