The Secret to Real Love...
So… anyone else love Disney as much as me…??
I am your number one Disney, magic, happily-ever-after, dreams-do-come-true fan (you just need to see my multiple soft toys and other Disney merchandise to know the obsession is real).
My favourite film is Tangled – where the girl gets rescued by a ruggedly handsome man who frees her from her evil stepmother and then sweeps her off her feet on an adventure to find the magical lights where they fall head over heels in love (*que fireworks*)… magical, right?
(INSERT REALITY CHECK HERE)
Okay. So what I really want to talk about (apart from my very possibly unhealthy relationship with Disney and magical romance) is the truth about how we can experience true love and healthy relationships.
Sadly, I don’t have the secrets to that fairy tale love featuring singing birds and a prince on horseback riding off into the sunset with us (or for us 21st Century women – the tall, handsome man driving us away in a sports car).
But I’ve got something better.
And I hear you asking… ‘What could possibly be better than ‘happily ever after…?!’
Yes… you heard me! Real Love. The love that involves active choices of commitment, compromise, understanding and willingness to put effort in every single day. This kind of love is real magic.
I get it – it’s hard to know what real love is when we are constantly bombarded by ideals in the movies and television shows we watch as well as on Instagram. They create the impression that love at first sight is the norm, that it is based on crazy chemistry, attraction and being showered with gifts and nights out.
But while we are being fed this yummy, but ‘life time on the hips’ food of lies, the secrets of real everyday love are being kept from us – respect, trust, understanding and open communication.
So, how do we make sure our relationships are filled with all this goodness?
I want you to take a moment and ask yourself:
What is love for you? When do you feel most loved?
Is it when that special person cooks for you? Holds your hand in public? Messages you a meaningful text? When they buy you a thoughtful gift? Or when you have quality time during a movie night, coffee date, or walk in the park?
Now that I’ve got you thinking about your idea of love and what is important to you in order to feel loved in your relationship, I want to introduce you to something that could help you in being able to develop and maintain lasting love. The #1 New York Times Bestseller, ‘The 5 Love Languages’.
The concept of ‘love languages’ was developed by Dr Gary Chapman, a renowned marriage therapist and author. The love languages are designed to help you and your partner love each other better.
I love this work because it speaks in simple terms, often offering up a good cheesy metaphorical truth (‘keeping our love tank full’), and while it can sound like a bad quiz you’d take in a magazine, it makes a lot of sense. And just talking from my own experience using it personally and professionally – it works!
The love languages explain that there are five basic ways that we speak and understand emotional love and connection. While they all hold importance to each of us, we tend to have one or two primary ‘languages’ that make us feel the most loved and secure.
Let me introduce you:
Words of Affirmation
This language is all about vocally affirming your love. Think: ‘I love you’, ‘You’re so amazing’, ‘I’m so proud of you’.
Acts of Service
For some people, actions speak louder than words. People with this love language would show it by helping with chores, running errands or making you dinner.
This is not necessarily about spending a lot of money on someone. It may be about receiving your favourite magazine or sweet treat, or being surprised with a coffee during a busy day.
For some, getting undivided attention is the best gift of all. It may look like your partner switching their phone off on a date night, going for a walk with just the two of you, or just sitting down for uninterrupted time together.
Sometimes nothing says I love you like holding hands, hugs, being intimate or a good, old-fashioned kiss.
So, how does having this understanding and knowledge of different love languages help you in creating lasting love and connection?
In order for us to be able to receive love and have our needs met in a relationship, we ourselves fist need to understand how we tick. It is only when we gain this understanding that we can communicate our needs. This also helps us to understand better how our partner ticks, and we can then put energy into speaking their language.
When you understand these differences in languages, you can understand why there may be a lack of connection in your relationship. But now you are in a position to find solutions to improving and maintaining the connection.
We all have different life experiences, different backgrounds, and different vocal languages, so it makes sense that we communicate love differently, too.
I want to share an example from my life. I once turned to a partner saying how unloved and insecure in our relationship I was feeling. His reply was: ‘What do you mean? I love you, I cook for you every night.’
But it wasn’t until I understand my primary language was ‘Words of Affirmation’ that I realised I didn’t appreciate being cooked for was a way of showing love. It didn’t have any impact on me feeling loved and secure. But once I understood our differences in this area, both our needs were better met, and our relationship improved.
I’ve found the concept of love languages helps pretty much any relationship, not just romantic ones. It’s useful to understand what matters to people. It all comes down to knowing what is important to people so that you can understand, empathise an work with them a little better.
Okay. Now it’s down to you…
Make a list of the top three things your partner does that makes you feel all warm and fuzzy inside, and get your partner to do the same.
You will probably notice a pattern here… but I really recommend jumping on to Chapman’s love languages website (www.5lovelanguages.com). It will feel silly as you take it… but seriously, do it!
Happy Love Languaging!