Mastering Your Husband’s Love Language
Please Note: The blog posts in this School of Marriage series are much longer than usual. For those visiting this site for the first time, I’m usually not this long winded…promise.
When Keith and I were first married, I had a horrible habit of completely blocking him out when working from my home office. It’s a skill I learned years prior that allowed me to remain laser beam focused on the task at hand and tune out everything around me.
Keith would come into the room while I was typing on the computer and have a complete conversation with me and I wouldn’t hear one word. He’d say, “Fawn. Fawn. Did you hear anything I just said?” My response was always the same, “Huh? What? Did you say something? Oh, sorry, I didn’t see you standing there.”
Thankfully, this didn’t go on for long because Keith expressed his concern to me about how my work oftentimes took precedence over our relationship. That’s all he needed to say. I’d learned from many years of studying married couples, and eavesdropping on my parent’s counseling sessions as a young girl, that placing career above marriage is a recipe for loneliness. I would need to learn how to advance my career while nurturing this relationship.
That’s when I began to really listen to the words of women who were successful in the workplace, as well as at home. What I learned and have seen play out in my life and the lives of so many around me is a simple Proverb, “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”
The Greatest Commodity of Our Lifetime is Time Itself
There’s a quote I heard a pastor say recently, “If you want to know where your priorities lie, look at your schedule and your bank account.”
When pursuing a high school diploma or college degree, we spend countless hours studying for required courses – calculus, chemistry, statistics, astrology – that will more often than not be of little use to us once the tassel on our graduation cap has been moved from right to left.
Yet, when we go into marriage, we somehow think we’re going to magically and instantly know what to do. We spend little time learning what makes mariages work. We think somehow love alone will be enough.
Love Alone is Not Enough
Last year, I spent four weeks attending a Spanish immersion school in Costa Rica. Becoming bilingual has been on my heart for more than 20 years and I knew there was only one way I’d be able to truly learn a secondary language and that was through immersion.
I desired to go to a Spanish-speaking country for this purpose for many years but could never set the time aside to do so (not to mention Keith wasn’t too keen on the idea of his wife being in a foreign land without him). But anyone who has ever learned a second language will tell you immersion is by far the most effective way.
That is, except, when learning a secondary love language. And if your desire, like mine, is to have a truly fulfilling marriage, you’ll want to do more than simply love your husband. You’ll want to learn his love language.
The Five Love Languages
In the perennial NY Times bestseller, The Five Love Languages, Dr. Gary Chapman does a brilliant job of outlining the five primary love languages all men and women speak: Words of Affirmation, Quality Time, Receiving Gifts, Acts of Service and Physical Touch.
Most men do not know their love language when they get married. It’s not exactly something taught in the local college. And yet, there is a subconscious desire for us to learn it by way of immersion.
Do you know your husband’s love language? I was learning Keith’s for years and didn’t realize it until most recently when I determined I didn’t just want to know what it was, I wanted to speak it fluently.
Secondary Languages Require Consistent Practice
I’ve met so many people who at some point in their life learned a second language but didn’t continue to practice or speak it and now it’s rendered useless. They can understand a few words or phrases but to attempt to speak with someone native in that language would be an absolute joke.
Are you that person? Did you spend a few years in high school or college learning a second language and now that you’ve not practiced it for some time, it’s almost as if you never spoke it at all.
After discovering your husband’s love language, it is not only important for you to know it but to actively practice speaking it daily. It is much easier to fall back into our native tongue, especially when times are hectic or we’re stressed. But that is precisely the time you want to be comfortable speaking fluently in your secondary love language. That’s when you need him to understand you best.
Have you ever heard a person speak in a secondary language as fluently as their primary one? Although this is not the case in the US, in most countries around the world, it is far more common for people to fluently speak multiple languages.
Your ultimate goal is to learn your husband’s love language as well as you know your own. You want to be fluent so you can express your heart to him in the way he will understand and receive it best. You want to be able to build him up after a tough day; to love him to the fullest.
Your Husband = Unqualified Teacher
But how do you become fluent in your husband’s love language if he’s not good at teaching it? And alas, here is the challenge with learning a secondary language when the professor teaching the class does not speak your language or understand your questions.
Imagine Mandarin is your native language and you decide to learn English. Your professor’s native language is English and he knows very little Mandarin. He cannot answer your questions. The only thing he seems to be able to tell you is when you’re saying something wrong. Although you would eventually learn the language, the frustration of the experience could cause you to give up before you have a chance to succeed.
There’s a pretty simple solution to this quandary: Get a translator. You need someone who speaks both yours and your husband’s primary love languages and that’s easier to find than you may think.
Get Serious About It
If you desire to speak to your husband in his love language, and translation at times has been a challenge, I’d recommend one of two things. The first option is to purchase the 5 Love Languages and not just buy it but read it. And not just read it but study it. And not just study it but put it into practice daily.
As with any secondary language, you must put it into use regularly or you will one day wake up and realize you’ve forgotten most of what you’d previously learned.
If you don’t want to spend the money on another book or would like to get started right away, simply ask your husband to take the love language assessment here for free and then Google his love language.
You’d be surprised the number of people who have taken the time to become experts in their spouse’s love language and have written about their journey. You can also find marriage counselors online who have written in depth on the five main love languages.
What About Me
I can hear someone out there in cyberspace saying, “Hey! What about me? What about him learning my love language? What about me Me ME?!?” I hear you loud and clear. One of the most tried and true things I’ve learned about marriage, from my own experience and countless others, is when I focus on becoming a better “me” it always positively impacts “us.”
Our tendency is to focus on what our spouse should be doing but we can never change another person. However, we can positively influence them. And by loving your husband in his own love language, you will be influencing him in a way you may have never known possible.
Continuing our series on the School of Marriage, tomorrow we will be diving into Anatomy and Biology (aka one of the most taboo topics in the world: Sex).
Until tomorrow…make it a great day!
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