Many years ago, my husband and I went on a marriage encounter retreat. It was the first time since starting a family that we would be away from our four children.
The event had speakers and workshops scheduled, all geared around ways to make a good marriage great.
To be honest, we weren’t there to work on our relationship; we were going because the entire weekend get-away cost us 100 dollars for a beautiful oceanfront room, all inclusive food, and NO KIDS!!!
Our marriage was good. At least, as good as marriages can be while being a military family with my husband gone more often than he was home. But we had no real complaints and figured this could be an inexpensive mini-vacation for us.
Knowing The Love Language Isn’t Always Easy
No one prepared us for the can of worms that were about to be opened on this little ‘romantic’ getaway.
No one told us we would be discussing our feelings.
Feelings both of us had pushed aside and buried deep down in our core.
Little did we know after each workshop, we would be dismissed to our romantic room to individually answer questions from a worksheet and then read those answers out loud to one another.
By the end of the retreat, as we got in the car to head home, we weren’t speaking.
Heck, we weren’t even looking at each another. We sat in silence on our side of the car trying to figure out how to seal the can of worms we had allowed to open.
In hindsight, it would end up being the best weekend we could have experienced, but back then, it was one of the most vulnerable moments in our relationship that we would share with one another.
Speaking Different Love Languages
During that weekend, we both realized we were speaking different languages when it came to love.
One of the speakers at the retreat mentioned Gary Chapman’s book “The Five Languages of Love.”
In his book Mr. Chapman shares the five types of love:
- Words of Affirmation – Spoken words, encouraging words
- Quality Time – One-on-One conversations, Sitting/talking together, running errands together.
- Receiving Gifts – Remembering special occasions, ‘just because’ gifts.
- Acts of Service – Assisting with chores, watching the kids
- Physical Touch – Hand holding, hugging, sitting close
We were encouraged to buy two copies of the book, one for each of us. Part of the instruction was to highlight sections that spoke to us as we read, and when we were both finished reading, we were to exchange the books.
I remember, as I read my husband’s copy, I began to understand why he may not have always felt my love for him.
Finding Your Love Language
My husband’s love language is physical touch.
There was hardly a time when he wasn’t reaching for my hand or placing his hand on my leg when we drove somewhere and never shied away from kissing me whenever he walked into a room.
As a stay-at-home mom, there were times I felt smothered and just needed a little space to breathe after giving all my affection to the kids during the day. I am sure he felt like he was the lowest priority in my life whenever I would shrug off a hug or pull my hand away when he reached for it.
Once I finished reading my husband’s copy of The Five Love Languages, not only did I have a better understanding of what I needed to do to ensure he never felt unloved, but it helped me understand how I receive love.
My love language is quality time.
When my husband came home from work, his routine usually was walking in the door, kissing me hello and then spending time with the kids, working in his woodshop or goof-off on his silly computer game.
By the end of the night, there was little time for us just to sit and talk about our day. I felt like there were days when we never connected and we were like two ships that passed in the night. I, too, felt like the lowest priority in his life.
I used to think that love was the key to a successful relationship, but I now realize the key is love language.
What Will You Do With Your Love Language?
In any relationship, we tend to interact with one another based on how we feel loved and appreciated.
Think of the wife who scurries around each day cooking, cleaning, and running errands only to feel frustrated when her efforts go unnoticed by others. Her love language is acts of service, but this isn’t necessarily the language of her husband.
What shouts love to one isn’t even a whisper to another.
It has been many years since my husband, and I went away on that kid-less weekend, but the lessons we have learned have helped us, not only in our marriage but in relationships with our children as well.
From marriage, family, and friendships, when we learn to speak the language is when we truly love ourselves and others.