Around two years into our relationship, the once passionate spark between my boyfriend and myself began to dim. We had gotten very comfortable with each other, despite not considering each other's needs, and the romance felt as if it was fading away.
But, we didn't want to give up, and more importantly, we didn't want to break up.
By some stroke of luck, my boyfriend's aunt gifted us the "The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love that Lasts" by Gary Chapman. When we received the book, I thought it was the much-needed solution to our problems.
Finally, there was a source to help us face our dilemmas head-on, and looking back, I credit the book with helping to strengthen our relationship. Through the "5 Love Languages" quiz, my boyfriend and I realized the things we lacked in our relationship.
The test's website says, you can "identify the root of your conflicts, give and receive love in more meaningful ways, and grow closer than ever."
This struck me, because I was feeling distant from my boyfriend, despite us constantly being together. It's not as though we needed to spend more time together to fix things — instead, we needed to understand each other and communicate with each other in order for things to get better.
Out of the five love languages — physical touch, receiving gifts, quality time, acts of kindness and words of affirmation — acts of service is, by far, my primary love language. Conversely, my boyfriend's primary love language is physical touch.
According to Chapman, my love language means I feel most loved when my partner does something for me. This can be something as simple as my boyfriend helping me with homework, listening to one of my long stories, or accompanying me on a 6-mile run. But most importantly, I feel most appreciated whenever he does something I ask him to do.
My boyfriend's love language of physical touch means he feels loved when I hold his hand or give him a hug; when I mess with his hair or when we sit close together at a restaurant. At the time, my boyfriend always tried to hug or kiss me in front of friends, family, even strangers — and I did not enjoy it at all. I'm not a touchy person, so for me, I was only considering my own feelings, not my boyfriend's.
The same thing can be said for him with regards to my love language.
Even though we received the love languages book from his aunt, my boyfriend wouldn't take the time to read it. When I asked him — multiple times — to read the book, he would come up with excuses to avoid doing so. He wasn't taking my emotions into account, just as I was disregarding his. He was thinking about himself, just as I was thinking about myself.
Chapman compares relationships and love languages to cars and fuel, respectively. The more my boyfriend and I don't fulfill the needs of our love languages, the more our "love tanks" run on empty.
We were both frustrated, and it became harder to appreciate the good things we actually did for each other. It was hindering our ability to talk to one another without coming off as angry or confrontational.
Nevertheless, we sat down and tried to solve the issues we were having.
For a while, it was trial and error. But eventually, we wrote lists for each other, as Chapman recommends in his book, of what we felt was most important to our love languages. It reminded us about what fills each other's "love tanks."
It took some reminding and adapting, but soon enough, my boyfriend got in the habit of always offering me help when he realized I was stressed. I did my best to hold his hand or sit close to him in public, even if I still didn’t really feel comfortable with the affection.
Now, it has almost become second nature to consider each other's love languages in everyday scenarios, and to this day, I don't bat an eye whenever he kisses me on the forehead in public.
We started communicating more and we learned what we were missing as well as what we needed in a clearer way to help us reignite our spark.
Learning each other's love languages helped us put our feelings into concise words, confirming we didn’t fall out of love, we just needed to find new ways of showing it.
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