If you want a great book to read about relationships, read: The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman
My sister Beckie gave me this book to read when I first go married and I loved it. I could not put it down. Basically the book helps you realize that, like many things in a marriage, you and your spouse have different ways of loving and expressing that love. Here are the what the author identifies as "The Five Love Languages":
• Words of Affirmation
Positive talk, compliments, hopeful words, affirmations, pleasant tone and conversations, etc.
• Quality Time
Trips, vacations, focused attention, eye to eye communication.
• Receiving Gifts
Flowers, services, etc.
• Acts of Service
Cleaning house, door opening, caring for children, taking out the garbage.
• Physical Touch
Hand holding, intimacy, back rubs, affection.
Now that Nick and I understand what category we fall into, it has helped out immensely with Birthdays, Anniversary's and especially with just the day-day dynamics of a marriage.
Nick is definitely in the giving gifts or acts of service category of both showing his love and receiving it. Every birthday or Christmas he wants me to give him of list things I want, and for a while I had to always tell him that I didn't care about gifts as much as I did about a heartfelt card. Also, Nick likes me to show him that I love him by having a clean house or making him his favorite meal or dessert. And even though now I am well aware of his love language, I still struggle with meeting his needs. Keeping the house clean is not a problem. I enjoy having a tidy home. But cooking is a whole different story. Not only do I not enjoy cooking, but Nick is an extremely picky eater (my whole family can vouch for that) so it completely quenches any desire for me to cook.
My love language is definitely words of affirmation, quality time, with a dash of physical touch. I love to talk, I crave praise or recognition after a hard day with Toby, and I really enjoy spending some quality time with Nick. The physical touch part is kind of a funny aspect in our marriage. I love to hug and rest my head on his chest when we're watching a movie, but that is pretty much the extent of our affection. Nick has never been the lovey-dovey type, especially in public. We rarely hold hands or kiss around other people. Even when we were newly weds you would never catch us in a bear hug or scratching each other backs in Sacrament meeting. Thats just how we are, and we're both comfortable and content with it. Nick has come a long ways in speaking my love language. As I said before, he use to want to shower me with gifts and give me a Hallmark signed, "love, Nick" but now knows that a thought-out letter or card is much more meaningful and appreciated.
We are both "works in progress" but the fact that we are aware of what makes the other person feel loved and valued has really added so much more meaning and happiness to our relationship.
I got this outline of "The Five Love Languages"off of a morning show's website that was spotlighting the book. I thought they were quite sobering and applicable. Hope you enjoy them as much as I did:
1. Everyone wants to be loved differently.
Through our upbringing we have learned how to be loved in different ways. The frustration comes because we think if they loved me, they would obviously love me my way. A great way to figure out how your partner wants to be loved is to see what they complain about most?
2. We tend to love others the way we want to be loved not the way they want to be loved.
One of disconnects that couples have is that we're always serving each other the way we want to be served. So we're always acting and never receiving our love. If you're always looking for cookies and your partner always serves cake, than odds are you're both going to be disappointed, both the giver who serving and receiver who "never gets what they want." We think that our partner "never" does anything for us. Really they do a lot for you but it's all in the wrong language so you don't understand what they're saying.
3. Remember the recipient always determines if they've been loved or not.
To love someone their way means they've got to see they are being loved…it's not just enough that you did something…they have to receive it as love. Make sure you're noticing the love that your partner is trying to do.
4. Learn to love your partner their way.
Identify how your partner most wants to be loved. Do the daily special…"What's the most important thing I can do today to love my partner their way?" Set a goal and offer the daily special - one thing you can do for your spouse each day to make them feel special. Learn more ways to do the same thing. Just because your partner wants more touch doesn't mean you always have to have intimacy. There are 1000 ways to touch someone. Learn how you like to be loved by ranking. Have a conversation with your partner about your different styles so you understand theirs. Love them regardless of their mood circumstance or event. Don't feed them just to be fed, feed them because it's just right.