Ok, so the first love language in the book is words of affirmation. It is amazing once you read about suff like this that you realize how far off people are with their spouses. Shawna and I work on this stuff, but it takes conscious effort on both our parts. What saddens me is when I see people who aren’t even trying or worse yet they don’t even really know what to try.
Verbal compliments or words of appreciation are powerful ways to communicate love. Simple stuff like “you look good baby” or “thanks for ironing my shirt” or “thanks for washing the dishes”. Give some sincere appreciation. Don’t try using flattery to manipulate your spouse to do something you want them to do though – your spouse can see through that. “The object of love is not getting something you want but doing something for the well-being of the one you love.” But you never know what your spouse might do for you if you start showing some sincere appreciation.
Encouraging words is another dialect of the words of affirmation love language. Encourage means to inspire courage. We all have areas in which we are insecure and never reach our full potential. Sometimes all it takes is encouragement from our spouse to unlock our potential and get us past our insecurities. Learn what is important to your spouse and communicate that you know, you care, you are with them, and you want to help any way you can. Believe in your spouse.
Kind words is another dialect. This is one I have to watch because it refers to the phrase “it isn’t what you say but how you say it.” Unfortunately I sometimes respond to Shawna with the right words but the wrong tone or volume. It is best to watch not only what you say but how you say it, and don’t reciprocate harsh words or tone when your spouse is upset. You can show love even in an argument by listening and responding kindly even if you’re disagreeing on something. I’ve heard it said that you can’t tell someone they shouldn’t feel the way they do because that doesn’t help anything – it’s too late – they already feel that way. But you can speak kindly and find ground for forgiveness in the argument.
Speaking of forgiveness – love doesn’t keep score. We can’t change the past. All we can do is ask forgiveness and try to do better. If you constantly bring up the past then intimacy becomes impossible. But if you choose to forgive intimacy can be restored. Forgiveness is not a feeling it is a commitment, a choice to show mercy and love despite the wrong that was done, to not allow what has happened to come between you. This one really challenges me because it is hard to make that choice all the time. It isn’t “forgive and forget”. It should be “forgiveness forever”, because you will always remember the wrong that happened and the pain will linger, but you have to focus on the commitment to get past it.
Moving on to humble words. Love makes requests, not demands. You aren’t your spouses mom or dad, so telling them what to do isn’t productive. We need to know our spouses desires and it is important for us to communicate our desires in ways that are requests not demands so that both spouses have the choice of responding to or denying those requests. Hope that makes sense. Go back to the “in-love” experience. You probably told your spouse “I like it when you help me do the dishes” rather than “isn’t it about time you do the dishes for once”. When you say things humbly you are indicating that your spouse has something or can do something meaningful or worthwhile to you. Then when they CHOOSE to respond to your request the love you feel is more meaningful.
As you can see there are many dialects within any particular love language. Find out if words of affirmation is a primary love language for your spouse and learn how to speak it well. Gotta keep the love tank full. The next love language will be Quality Time – one of Shawna’s primary ones. I’ll probably read that one next week.