Unless you live alone, chances are you’ve found yourself away from your significant other over the last few weeks. The enforced quarantine means we are all spending more time with family or partners.
Life can be challenging as we each navigate these new living conditions while also dealing with anxiety from this global uncertainty.
The secret to a relationship surviving lockdown lies in good communication, deep listening, and patient understanding of each other.
Instead of feeling stressed about being together literally 24/7, you can take this time as an opportunity to get to know your relationship better and strengthen the foundations on which it stands.
The next time you pick on each other over something small, think about why you are reacting and why and equally consider your partner’s actions.
Often, there is much more going on beneath the surface than the seemingly mundane struggle. Maybe, when you get mad at your partner for not making dinner at a certain time what you are really feeling is rejection and lack of consideration for your needs.
This may be causing a whole emotional wound from the past. If only your partner understood that for you, the act of making dinner on time symbolizes how willing they are to take care of you and are aware of your needs.
Meanwhile, from your partner’s perspective, maybe they didn’t make dinner because they were busy working. For them, working to provide for you and your family is their way of showing how much they care for you and want to provide.
What we have here is a classic case of two people misunderstanding each other’s love language.
The Five Love Languages
Different love languages were developed as a concept by Gary Chapman in his book “The 5 Love Languages.” It talks about how we express love in our relationships in different ways. Not all of us express ourselves in the same way and for some people, one love language is much more important than others.
This is vital in any relationship, because it helps to deal with conflict and understand behaviors. If your partner is not reciprocating love in the way you would like to receive it, it does not mean that they do not love you, it just shows it in a different way.
Here are the five love languages explained.
Words of Affirmation
Chapman says, people with this love language need to hear words of affection, love, encouragement and recognition. They need to hear “I love you” often, ideally backed up with all the reasons why.
Communication style: Encourage, affirm, appreciate, empathize. Listen carefully.
Do: Send an encouraging and affectionate written note, text or card out of the blue unexpected note, text or card. Be consistent with the affirmation of the words and do not insult.
Avoid: Not appreciating or acknowledging the effort. Non-constructive criticism.
People with this love language love undivided attention and hanging out with their partner without distractions like cell phones or TV. It could be talking, preparing a meal, discussing future plans or just being in the same room.
Communication style: Focused conversations without interruptions. One on One Time together.
Do: Make time for focused conversations and shared experiences. Go for walks, cook, create or plan weekend getaways just the two of you.
Avoid: Being distracted when you are talking to your partner, goes for long periods without good quality one-on-one time.
People with this love language thrive on physical touch. They like to be hugged, held and caressed. The physical presence of your partner is important for you to feel loved.
Communication style: Through touch and non-verbal gestures such as holding hands or rubbing the neck.
Do: Make an effort to express your affection physically through hugs, kisses, holding hands etc. Prioritize time for this kind of intimacy.
Avoid: You receive a cold embrace, long periods without affection.
The person with this love language finds that receiving gifts is a symbol of love. It can be simple, not about grand gestures, just the thought of expressing love through a thoughtful gift.
Communication style: To be thoughtful and purposeful. Knowing your partner’s tastes.
Do: Give thoughtful gifts not only on special occasions. Express your gratitude for receiving a gift from them.
Avoid: Forget birthdays, anniversaries, etc.
Acts of Service
If this is your love language you appreciate meaningful acts of service. This could be anything from walking the dog to unpacking the groceries or fixing a leaky faucet.
Communication style: Say “I do” and “I help” often, this shows your willingness to assist your partner and make their life easier.
Do: Tendency to tasks that are always left to the end, walk the dog, make breakfast in bed, do something to lighten the load of your partner.
Avoid: Not following or prioritizing helping someone else over your partner often.
The best thing to do is to be clear about what you think your and your partner’s love languages are. Sitting down and discussing the ways you value your relationship is a great way to start this conversation with your partner.
Taking the time to learn and truly understand your partner’s primary love language, which is usually different from your own, can improve communication and strengthen your bond.
When you understand your love languages, you can avoid a lot of unnecessary tension and conflict.
During these tense and chaotic times, it is important to be able to listen, understand and communicate with your loved ones.