I recently discovered the ‘Five Love Languages’, conceived by family counsellor and author Dr Gary Chapman. As I read more about the concept I realised how useful it is to understand your own and your partners love language. Particularly when relationships can be put to the test during infertility.
Although, we do generally cover most if not all these aspects of affection at some point, discovering what you most relate to and what your partner most relates to can have a wonderful impact on the ability to communicate more effectively with your partner.
As I discuss with couples therapist, sex therapist and sexologist Isiah McKimmie in our webinar, sex is an important expression of the love and connection you share with your partner. When sex becomes more about the baby making goal than about a true connection, other expressions or languages of love become more important.
The five love languages are as follows
Words of affirmation
Some people most strongly connect with affirming words from their partner. From a basic “I love you” to “You look amazing tonight”, “Thanks for the lovely dinner”, “You always make me feel good”. These are all positive expressions of affection and appreciation. Think about how positive words from your partner make you feel and how they respond to your expressions. Is this the language you most resonate with?
The gift of time. For some people no matter how many positive words are provided, they perceive love as your willingness to give them undivided attention above all else. This doesn’t just mean being in the same place at the same time but truly listening to and connecting with each other away from work commitments, iPads or other distractions. Dedicating time to doing something your partner enjoys to do and committing yourself to the process.
Although time can be a gift, for some, having something they can physically hold that reminds them of you, is most important. As is the time take to lovingly select the gift and the thought behind it.
These gifts don’t necessarily need to cost a lot of money or in fact cost anything. The gift is a symbol of that time and thought that they can carry with them.
Sometimes the thought that goes into making or selecting an appropriate gift that has no monetary value can be just if not more valuable to your partner.
Acts of service
Doing things for your partner are another way of expressing your love and appreciation. Whether it cooking a meal, washing up or simply picking up their dry cleaning. These acts all require thought, planning, time, effort and energy and show that you value your partner. Of course these tasks must be done in a positive spirit and not out of annoyance that you’ve been nagged one too many times. Think about how it feels when your partner does something for you, happily! For some people this is a the greatest expression of love. For others, their partner may be doing the washing the cleaning the laundry all in attempts to express love, when really all their partner wants is to drop the housework and take a walk with me.
I have to admit, I’m a hugger. I love touch and affection. It wasn’t until I stumbled across these languages that I realised how important this aspect is to me. If you’re like me, having your partner give you an unsolicited kiss, hold your hand, put their arm around you or simply touch you as they pass by is the most powerful expression of love.
Take the time to really think about which love language most resonates with you. How can you express that need better? And how can you better express love to your partner in a language they most understand. Knowing the answers to these questions can help you maintain that love and connection with your partner during the difficult times infertility throws our way.