(a peek inside a couple’s therapy session)
Wife: Why don’t you love me anymore?
Husband: What do you mean? I do love you!
Wife: Well I can't tell.
Husband: What are you talking about?! I don’t hang in the streets with my friends and I’m home every evening after work. During the weekends I hang out with the kids so you can get stuff done. I work hard to make sure that you and the kids are taken care of financially.
Wife: I know you do and I appreciate that. But we don’t spend time together anymore. You don’t seem to notice me and I often feel invisible when we are in the house. And when I ask you to talk to me you never seem to want to be bothered.
Husband: I feel like I just can't win with you!
Here we have a couple that truly loves each other, but doesn’t quite see eye to eye on the definition of love. It’s almost as if they are speaking different languages. They actually are! They are speaking different Love Languages.
To have healthy and effective communication, a couple must understand how they receive love and how their partner shows love. When these wires get crossed and the signals get mixed up, we have conversations like the one that I shared with you.
Relationship Exercise: During some quiet time with your spouse/significant other, each of you take turns identifying which block under the "Action" column provides you the most comfort and/or makes you feel loved.
For our fictitious couple from the counseling session, the wife would most closely align with “Quality Time” and the husband would most closely align with “Acts of Service”.
Next, the two of you can discuss specific examples of the corresponding "How to Communicate" block. Also explore how items in the "Things to Avoid" make you feel. Be specific in the examples that you give in your discussions. For example, the wife would specify how she feels when her husband is on his phone while they are at dinner. The husband might share how he feels when the wife frequently loans her family money, despite the family's previous budget plans.
Try it and see how this opens up a dialogue!