When my marriage, at its young age, was in a threat of ending last year, I came upon Gary Chapman. He has been into marriage counselling for 3 decades now. I got his books and tried to learn from it by understanding my spouse and myself.
Chapman spoke of a love tank and 5 Love Languages.
First, he believes that a person is a love tank which needs to be filled with love by the people he cares about and who he expects to care back. A person with an empty love tank would feel insecure while a person whose tank is full would be very happy and satisfied. Hence, in turn a person who is full of love is able to reciprocate love,
He likened us to a car.. When one has a car, he must regularly check on its oil to avoid problems while on the road. He has to make sure that it is not low in oil. Hence, he said to ensure a smooth sailing relationship we have to check on our loved one if we have filled their tank with love or not.
However, he acknowledges that there are instances where a person has done so much effort in letting the other how much he loves her and yet is not being appreciated, or the other person still doesn’t feel being loved enough.
Yes, you are right! Her tank must not be filled up.
No matter how much effort we do to make someone feel how much we love them, yet we aren’t expressing it in his love language, then it would be a failure. We have to know a person’s love language in order for us to be able to express it in a way that they will understand.
Like an American in China, the language barrier would be a hindrance for him to communicate well. So he has to learn Chinese. He cannot expect the Chinese, being so patriotic, to learn English for him.
Does this mean we should not marry a person of different love language?
A person defines and talks love in different ways; in different languages. Most often we express love by our own language because somehow, subconsciously that’s how we want others to love us.
According to Dr. Chapman, man defines love in either of the following ways:
(1) Words of Affirmation: One longs to hear that he is appreciated, wanted,…loved.
(2) Quality Time: One longs for his partner;s undivided attention. He longs to spend time with his partner doing things that matter to both of them.
(3) Receiving Gifts: One wants to receive little gifts, surprises. It shouldn’t matter what kind of gifts as long there is something, tangible or not that comes from the other.
(4) Acts of Service: One: One feels loved every time he is being taken cared of. A mere gesture of preparing breakfast in bed would mean so much to the person who defines love through acts of service.
(5) Physical Touch: One needs to be hugged, kissed and touched all the time in order to feel loved. A simple pat in the back, a good night kiss or a comforting hug would be much celebrated.
Of course, we should marry the person we love no matter their love language. However, it is important for us to know what our spouse’s love language for us to be able to communicate our love to them. Can you imagine how tiresome and frustrating it is to exert so much effort in pleasing your spouse yet an appreciation is not given?
You cannot fill a car with just any oil. There has to be a particular oil. The same is true with us, we cannot just be loved generally. Love has to be given to us in a way that we can recognize it; it a way that we can feel it.
The husband and I have learned what our respective love languages are. This is difficult for us since mine doesn’t come to him naturally as his is to me. But no one said that this is an easy task. Love is a choice. We choose to keep the marriage and keep being in love to each other. Hence, day by day, we work hard, in our own little ways, to fill each other’s love tank.