I had just returned from a four-night mission at a tiny little village on the outskirts of Zabul Province, Afghanistan when I stumbled upon this little gem. I was exhausted, hungry and in desperate need of a shower when an Army chaplain picked me up from the Blackhawk landing zone to take me back to base.
He chatted incessantly as we slowly made our way around the Kandahar Airfield and I sleepily responded with a few "uh-huh's" while desperately hoping he would pick up the pace. He finally dropped me off in front of my 'chew' and politely got out and helped me unload my gear before wishing me a peaceful night.
As I stumbled toward the door, he quickly grabbed something out of his truck and jogged back over to me. He handed me a book and told me I looked like someone who needed some help. As he drove away, I glanced at the title and inwardly laughed... love wasn't on my priority list.
It was a few months before the missions slowed down enough for me to have the energy to look at the book again. When I finally read it, though, I realized how much I needed that information. I was married for one short year before deploying to Afghanistan as a photo-journalist with Special Forces and my young marriage sorely suffered. We were young and in love but we had no idea how to show each other love in a language that the other person understood.
The 5 Love Languages, a book written by Dr. Gary Chapman, is really simple to understand and use on a daily basis. Let me walk you through the languages and I guarantee you'll be changed forever.
Words of Affirmation: If you receive love in this language, hearing "I love You" or other unsolicited favorable compliments are very important to you. You're not being needy... you're just being you. In the same token, if you're berated, belittled or spoken to rudely, it can shatter you.
Quality Time: If you receive love in this language, you don't need to hear "I love you," you just need someone to give you their undivided attention. It's not as simple as just watching a movie or eating dinner together. You want someone to sit down, engage and really listen to what you have to say.
Receiving Gifts: If you receive love in this language, you get immense joy out of the thought and effort that someone else put into giving you a gift. This doesn't make you materialistic and it doesn't insinuate that all gifts should be expensive. You feel loved and appreciated when others' show they understand you by giving you thoughtful and meaningful gifts. These gifts mean the most to you when you least expect them.
Acts of Service: If you receive love in this language, you feel loved when others do something to ease your responsibilities. It can be simply taking out the trash, washing the dishes, getting the fuel changed in your car or offering to do something they wouldn't normally do.
Physical Touch: If you receive love in this language, you feel loved the most when others give you hugs, hold your hand, or physically touch you in a way that says, I'm here for you and you can depend on me. This doesn't relate to sex. For these people, someone else's physical presence provides a sense of safety and security.
Don't try to guess what your love language is... go here and take this FREE quiz! It's very accurate and I bet you might be a little surprised with your results. Can you have more than one love language? Yes. I primarily have one but my husband has two.
The KEY to this is remembering that you have a love language and your husband has a love language. What's the likelihood that these love languages will be the same? I don't have a percent for you but I haven't met too many couples who share the same love language.
That's why it's crucial for BOTH of you to take the quiz and discuss your results together. Then, start practicing showing your love for your spouse or significant other in THEIR love language. This can be incredibly difficult and it will take work, time and constant reminders.
Sometimes, I still find myself wondering if I've shown my husband love in the way that he receives love. We're human and it's natural to fall back on what comes natural to us. For example, my husband's primary love language is receiving gifts. For years, I believed my husband was very selfish and childish but now I understand this love language and I understand him (more than before at least). It's simple things, like bringing him home his favorite candy bar, buying him something off his Amazon wish list or noticing he needs new workout clothes and purchasing them for him.
Alternatively, my husband still struggles with my love language: physical touch. He doesn't like to hold hands (but I love it) and he isn't a big fan of hugs. We make a joke out of it every day and he tells me I have a one-hug-a-day limit. He knows that if I'm upset, feeling stressed or really excited, what I need is a warm embrace, not a new necklace. For years he purchased jewelry for me... I'm glad he's finally kicked that habit!
If you made it all the way to the bottom of this article, I hope that you took the time to take the quiz and that you insist your significant other takes it as well. This has truly been life-changing for me and I honestly believe my marriage is 100% better because of our mutual understanding of what the other needs in terms of expressing love.