The Way We Love

I’ve heard that opposites attract, and I’ve always thought that just sounded awful. Why would anyone want to be with a person with whom they have nothing in common?! So, naturally, when I started dating my husband, I thought I hit the jackpot (which I totally did). We had a lot of common interests and our beliefs lined up really well.

Then came premarital counseling (and I recommend it to EVERYONE who is planning on getting married). We learned about love languages. For those of you who don’t know what those are, let me explain. A love language is a way that a person experiences and receives love. In order to love someone well, you have to learn to “speak” their language. There’s a book all about that. The author says there are 5 basic love languages:

  1. Words of Affirmation
  2. Acts of Service
  3. Receiving Gifts
  4. Quality Time
  5. Physical Touch

We spent some time figuring out how the 5 love languages ranked to us personally. When we came together to talk about it, I realized something…opposites do attract. In the ways that we experience love, we could not be more different.

My ranking looks like this:

  1. Words of Affirmation, Quality Time, Physical Touch
  2. Acts of Service & Receiving Gifts

It seems against the rules to have a three way tie for first and a tie for second, but that’s really how I feel. I can’t decide if words are more important to me than quality time or if quality time is more important than physical touch, so my list is a bit unusual.

My husband’s list is as follows:

  1. Acts of Service
  2. Gifts
  3. Physical Touch
  4. Words of Affirmation
  5. Quality Time

Even though we learned about love languages before we got married, it took some time to implement what we had learned – and it’s still a work in progress. It’s common for people to love others in a way that makes sense to themselves. For example, because words of affirmation are so important to me, I tend to love other people with kind and encouraging words. It’s natural to me. BUT it doesn’t mean the people who are receiving those words feel loved by them. In fact words of affirmation hardly translate into love for my husband at all because it isn’t his love language. If I would put away his laundry, though, he would feel really loved. If he did the same for me, I wouldn’t feel loved because acts of service don’t mean much to me. While spending 5 hours looking into my husband’s eyes might make me feel super loved, it’s not his idea of a good time – quality time is #1 for me and #5 for him!

For a long time (and sometimes still) I thought our lists were not fair; I thought my husband had the worst of the love languages at the top of his list. Because if I want him to feel loved, I have to do chores and spend money. My love languages don’t cost a thing, and all he has to do is hang out with me! My husband has tried to say that some gifts can be free. When I asked for examples, though, all he could give me was, “find free tickets to an event, um…steal something for me….” (disclaimer: I do not endorse stealing and neither does he :))

He says our lists are also unfair because my love languages are unquenchable – there are never enough hours of quality time, never enough hugs, and never enough words of affirmation. In his defense, he is completely right; there can never be too much!

And sometimes that is just torture for me…especially in regards to quality time. Spending hours together doesn’t usually make him feel loved, but getting some alone time does. He knows that it is a sacrifice for me to give up quality time, so he appreciates it even more when I give him some solitude.

Learning how to love each other well and in ways that make sense hasn’t been easy. We’ve had disagreements and frustrations, but I love getting to share life with this guy who wants to love me the best he can. Love languages have been revolutionary for us.


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