We all have diverse personalities. Different ways of navigating life. Varying emotional needs. Many of us are sensitive to how others treat and appreciate us and our efforts, and this is especially true in our intimate relationships.
None of us are completely free of unconscious influences from our past. These affect how we perceive life. They can make us extra sensitive. This shows up as our vulnerabilities and affects how we perceive what our partner is saying or doing, and how we respond to him or her.
We may even seem overly needy to our partner if he or she doesn’t understand our vulnerabilities, or if they choose to minimize or brush them off a silly.
This is why trust, communication, and creating a “safe haven” for each in the partnership to show the other their fears, emotional barometer, and vulnerabilities is vital. So is being sensitive to our partner’s needs – even if we don’t understand them.
This article/blog post is based on concepts in my book Your Journey to Peace, Bridging the Gap Between Religion, Spirituality, Psychology, and Science. Book Synopsis is found here).
Many of us are somewhat needy for love, as we were never taught to connect to the love within – to our true self. Nor were we exposed to unconditional love. We therefore look to get our love needs satisfied from externals. To feel love from those close to us.
We all have different ways we express our love to our partner, but we also have different ways we interpret love from our partner. What makes one feel loved, may feel like an empty gesture to another.
This is because we all have our own internal way of feeling loved. A major part of showing our love to our partner in the way he or she most easily feels loved is understanding and acting upon what Gary Chapman calls our “love languages.”(1)
If we were completely connected to our true self 100% of the time – and to the love it holds – we would not need any specific expression of our partner’s (or anyone else’s) love for us.
However, as we are not all fully aligned with our true self and are just doing our best to deal with our inner worlds and unconscious influences, we feel most loved when those close to us – especially our spouse expresses their love to us in the way we feel it.
In Gary Chapman’s The Five Love Languages, he tells us that learning our partner’s love language is paramount to understanding how to show them our love so that they feel it as much as we are attempting to show it. Listed below are Chapman’s Five Love Languages. (1)
Love Language 1: Words of Affirmation: We are not often taught to use encouraging, kind, and humble words, so as adults we do not tend to use positive affirmations of love. Complimenting and showing appreciation to a partner who needs to hear love and appreciation voiced is fundamental in communicating our love to them. Receiving positive reinforcements makes our loved one much more willing and motivated to fulfill our desires.
Love Language 2: Quality Time: For many, togetherness and quality time is vital to them feeling loved. Having quality conversations and heartfelt sharing encourages intimacy for them. And listening attentively when he or she speaks from their heart is paramount.
Love Language 3: Receiving Gifts: Gifts are important in relationships because they are tactile and visual symbols of love, particularly if our partner requires physical manifestations as a sign of our love. So, bringing our spouse gifts, especially for no reason at all, makes them feel loved. So does knowing what they like to receive as a gifts.
Love Language 4: Acts of Service: The act of being served is how some people feel loved. Both small and large gestures will please a partner who feels loved by being served. Small gestures like making him or her supper for no reason, keeping their car fueled up and washed, or offering to babysit so the other can get away with the guys or gals keeps him or her feeling loved and appreciated. He or she will then be able to respond more lovingly.
Love Language 5: Physical Touch: Any act of physical touch is felt as an expression of our love to someone who requires touch as an indicator of love. A simple brush as you walk by, a hug or kiss as you leave or come home, or a massage for no particular reason will keep the necessary physical communication open that the other needs. A healthy sex life is paramount to the partner whose love language is touch. (1)
At the same time, we must show appreciation to our partner for any attempt or gesture he or she makes to show their love and appreciation – no matter how feeble their attempt seems to us and even when it is in ways that do not fulfill our particular love needs.
When living at our highest potentials we would instinctively know how to express our love to our partner so they feel it. Interestingly, if they too were living at their highest potential they wouldn’t need any specific outward signs of our love.
However, since most of us are not there yet and have been programmed to get our love cues from the external world, expressing our love in the way our partner feels it strengthens the relationship.
(1) Gary Chapman, The Five Love Languages: How to Express Heartfelt Commitment to Your Mate (Chicago: Northfield Publishing, 1992), 37–121.
© Rosemary McCarthy, uupdated June, 2018.
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