What Dogs Taught Me About Love Languages

I learned many things house/dog sitting for my siblings-in-law last month. Among these epiphanies were:

I love Crispix.

I don’t do well with dog vomit. (PS – I have the BEST husband!)

Green carpet, small TV, and a lumpy bed, but there’s still nothing like my own house.

Dogs and I express affection in drastically different ways.

Hana and Maile

That last nugget of truth got me thinking about love languages. I’m sharing my conclusions about dogs and love languages over on Kindred Grace today!

You can read the post here.

Some other thoughts on love languages:

Photo Credit: Hepburn Creative (Hana and Maile, the sources of my epiphany)

Hug Me: Learning Your Husband’s Love Language

Tim and I had our first love language conversation on June 13th, 2012. I remember the date because it’s my brother’s birthday AND because it was the first time, 3 days after we started dating, that Tim and I held hands.

The glorious feeling of his warm, strong fingers circling my own, always cold, hand may have influenced my love language conclusions during that first discussion.

I readily stated that among words of affirmation and acts of service, one of my love languages was physical touch. I figured that heady feeling whenever Tim wrapped his arm around me or kissed my forehead was a sure sign I heard love through physical affection.

My conclusions were sorely misguided.

Tim, on the other hand, was completely accurate when he said his love language was physical touch. This discrepancy has been a source of struggle for me since we got married. I love Tim, but I like to love him the way I love in general – through words of affirmation and acts of service – not through physical touch.

I do my love for Tim a diservice by not speaking his love language. It’s also dangerous if Tim doesn’t hear my love. I’ve learned that one of the greatest acts of service you can give your husband is learning his love language and speaking it fluently.

Service takes sacrifice and it’s a sacrifice to put his love language above the one you naturally give. It’s so challenging, yet so worth it.

Hug Me!

Our Story: Hug Me!

As I shared above, I discovered the importance of learning Tim’s love language when I realized ours were so vastly different. I’m an internal processor, so when I’m upset or frustrated, I’d rather be alone. I’ll avoid physical contact or, if Tim captures me in a hug before I can cold shoulder my way out of it, I’ll stand there lifeless in his arms. (I’m cringing as I admit this.)

In those moments, when an intentional display of physical affection is intrusive to my processing, Tim needs that hug or hand on his back to know that we are alright. For Tim, physical touch is less about sexual intimacy and more about physical closeness. Hugs feel safe and reassuring.  Holding hands or rubbing his neck communicates the “good” status of our relationship. Without these, he feels isolated and unloved.

It was disheartening to realize that the way I deal with conflict and express my affection both communicated the exact opposite of love to Tim. Learning Tim’s love language has been difficult for me, and actually speaking it is a daily choice that I don’t always choose. Both Tim and I are just embarking on the journey of learning to speak each other’s love languages.

The Choice To Serve

Whether love languages is new to you or old news, serving your husband in this way is vitally important to maintaining a healthy marriage.

  • Have a candid conversation about love languages. Get the book if you need somewhere to start. Share how you give and receive love.
  • Be honest and specific about your love language. It’s important that you both recognize each others expressions of love. Finish sentences like: “Love is when I do…” and “Love is when I say…”.
  • Acknowledge and appreciate your husband’s love language. You can’t change the way your spouse is wired. God made him that way.
  • Accept love from his love language. I know I’m suggesting that spouses should learn and speak their partner’s love language, but your husband may not be there quite yet. If he isn’t speaking your love language, pray for receptivity towards the way he gives love. Grace is an important player as you learn to give and receive love.
  • Be intentional about learning his love language. It’s not something that will come naturally. For me, this looks like reaching out first, random acts of physical affection, and, in conflict, staying physically present.
  • Practice! When I studied abroad in Italy, I didn’t learn to speak Italian in the classroom.  I learned Italian by living with an Italian family, having conversation dates with an Italian friend, and forcing myself to use Italian while ordering my cappuccino. It was rough and embarrassing at first, but by the time I left Italy, I was conversationally fluent. The same goes for learning a love language. It takes time and practice in real life situations, but fluency is possible.

All of this is still difficult for me. I outlined this post on Sunday morning and then failed miserably at exactly what I was writing about almost immediately. Hence the need for grace in this whole process.

Apology and HUGS later, I was even more convinced that speaking Tim’s love language was one of the best ways to serve my husband.

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Pop on over to these blogs to read what they have to say about service in marriage:

Check out the other posts in this series: CommunicationLaughter. Sex

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