Understanding This One Thing Will Greatly Improve Your Relationships

In his research, Dr. Gary Chapman found that “the average lifespan of the euphoric state known as ‘being in love with someone’ is only two years.” This means it only takes about two years of being in love with another person before the rose-colored glasses that accompany the romantic feeling start to slip. 

The newly married couple who were infatuated with each other suddenly start having marital problems, but they can’t explain what changed.

And this phenomenon doesn’t just apply to marital relationships. Parents naturally feel love towards their children, but that doesn’t keep either from experiencing frustrations with the other. Work colleagues should all be focused on achieving the same company goals, but having a united mission doesn’t mean two coworkers won’t ever “bump heads” over decisions.

If love is both a natural human emotion and a deep spiritual need, why do we have relational conflicts? 

Learning to Speak Love Clearly

In his book, “The Five Love Languages,” Dr. Chapman suggests the problem isn’t that we simply “fall out of love” after two years of marriage or that parents momentarily stop loving their children when they do something frustrating, but rather, the problem is one of communication.

According to Chapman, all of the various expressions of love can fall into one of five categories, or “languages”:

  • Physical Touch
  • Words of Affirmation
  • Quality Time
  • Acts of Service
  • Receiving Gifts

We each naturally speak and hear one of these better than the other five (meaning we express and recognize love naturally in one of these ways).

But rarely do two people in a relationship both speak the same primary love language and when they do, it’s often a different dialect. For example, both a husband and wife may value “acts of service,” but he might view “acts of service” as being big improvement projects while she defines it as household chores.

This is where conflict and frustration in relationships happen.

Just like with spoken languages, saying the words “I love you” means nothing if the person you’re saying to doesn’t understand English.

When we express love to someone in their primary love language, we’re saying “I love you” in the clearest possible way they can understand.

It isn’t that the other person is ignoring the natural way we show them love, it’s that they don’t speak that specific language of love naturally. When we express love to someone in their primary love language, we’re saying “I love you” in the clearest possible way they can understand. 

The good news is, when you can recognize another person’s love language, you can learn how to show them appreciation in a way they will understand it best.

How To Discover Your Loved One’s Primary Love Language

Here are 3 questions you can ask to discover another person’s love language:

  1. In what ways are they showing appreciation or care for people around them? Since we naturally speak the love language we hear the best, identifying the actions they use to show love could tell you how they want to receive love.
  1. What do they complain about most often? Knowing what frustrates a person can give you insight into which love languages might be more difficult for them to understand.
  1. What do they request most often? If you’re listening attentively, you might be able to tell what their love language is based on what they perceive they are lacking.

*inspired by “The 5 Love Languages” by Dr. Gary Chapman. Discover your love language by taking this quiz!

Mt. Bethel Church hosted Dr. Gary Chapman for a special event on February 28, 2024, where he spoke on “The Five Love Languages” and “How to Build Better Relationships.” The event was not recorded, but the above article summarizes the main points of his talk.