Everyone has times when they feel really loved by their partner, there’s a close connection and lots of fun and laughter. The relationship is flourishing.
There are also times when we feel distant, frustrated, angry perhaps, and all the love seems to have leaked out of the relationship.
Imagine we have an inner emotional “love tank”, and how full or empty the tank is represents how loved we feel. What’s the ‘fuel gauge’ showing, how full is your love tank right now?
The question is not designed to be an opportunity to start thinking negatively about our partner, for criticising or demanding things, because we know that love is about giving, not getting.
The thing is that we all experience love in different ways. For one person hearing the words: “I love you” makes them feel on top of the world. Words alone might feel quite hollow for someone else, regular cuddles and kissing may be what makes them feel loved.
Gary Chapman, author of the ‘Five Love Languages’ describes ways in which we can GIVE LOVE in the way our partner can receive it, when we know their “love language”.
The 5 Love Languages are:
- Words of affirmation
- Quality time
- Physical touch
- Acts of service
- Thoughtful gifts
I’m very aware that what comes naturally for me is to show love in MY love language. I tend to do things, like making a nice meal or organising time together. There’s nothing wrong with either of those things, it’s just that my husband’s top love languages are: words of affirmation and physical touch. The candles on the table do very little for him. If I want to express love in the way he’s going to receive it I need to tell him how special he is and whisk him off to the bedroom! In short, if I want my husband to feel loved I need to be thinking of HIS needs.
The 5 Love Languages are a great tool to help people understand different ways they feel or experience love. It can start some really great conversations that will help you fill up each other’s love tanks.
You may be thinking, ‘I’ve been giving and giving …and getting nothing back, my love tank emptied a long time ago!’
The problem is we can’t change our partner, we can only change ourselves. And none of us is perfect. Perhaps this is a time to do something different, try Toucan Together’s Loving Module to work out your Love Languages and build greater intimacy as a couple. Or it may be worth getting some outside help. If we had a broken leg we’d go to a doctor, so if part of our relationship is broken the best thing we could do is to see a professional counsellor.
Dr Sue Johnson, leading couple’s therapist, says: “The greatest gift one lover has to give another, is emotionally attuned attention and timely responsiveness.” Johnson defines love as “a special kind of emotional bond, the need for which is wired into our brains by millions of years of evolution.” We are not meant to be alone! Disconnection brings anxiety and distress. Secure and close connection is the foundation of good relationships. So it’s really worth learning how to fill each other’s love tanks and then get filling!
REFLECT & CONNECT
- How much am I putting into the relationship?
- What can I do to fill up the love tank of my partner?
- Am I giving love in the way my partner needs and receives it?
Talk as a couple:
- Talk as a couple:
- How full, or drained, do I feel my love tank is right now and why? Is there anything that needs to change?
- What can I do to help fill your love tank?