July 2022 Relationship Challenge - 5 love languages
When couples come for counselling we often brainstorm what they can do at home that will make a difference in their relationship. Change doesn't happen overtime, and monthly challenges are often a fun way to create a commitment for a long enough time to notice a shift. This year I am creating my own, individual, challenges to work on my relationship, intentionally and consistently.
After a tough couple of month (relationship challenge wise) I wanted an easy relationship challenge - I wanted an easy win. 5 love languages challenges felt like it would be fun. And it was.
There are 5 love languages:
Words of affirmation
Acts of service
I decided to focus each week on one love language. Then I quickly gave myself permission to mix and match as I found focusing only one one too restricting.
Gifts was the hardest one for me, so I decided to get it out of the way first and spend the short 3 day week focusing on that. Turned out it was really fun, once I got over initial hurdle of thinking - "it’s not my love language", "it doesn’t come naturally to me", "I don’t know what to do"... It’s all true, it really didn’t come naturally to me. I don’t like shopping, at all, and I try to avoid it as much as possible. Rick does the shopping in our family (thank you, thank you, thank you), so I don’t have many opportunities to buy gifts. Unless of course it’s books. I buy a lot of books. :)
So I had to sit down and plan. I wrote down my ideas. I thought of all the different things I could get for him. I don’t like to go shopping. True. But I could surely get something from Amazon. So I did. And it was so much fun. I got him ice cream when he didn't expect it, I got him a cute t-shirt, I got him a hat for work. Of course I could have done more. There are many ideas on my list that I didn’t get to, but it’s a start. It still doesn’t come naturally to me, so if I wanted to do more of this(and I do), I’d have to put it in my calendar and figure out easy ways of making it happen
Acts of service - sometimes I have to talk myself through this one. “Why am I the only one doing this?”, “no one appreciates it, no one even notices" (when I clean), “no one cares” (when I try to organize things) …. But then I just have to remind myself that it’s how I take care of my family. That’s how I show my love. It’s also how I show my love and appreciation for my home. And as for Rick, he does so much, honestly, it’s the least I can do. So it was easy, even when it was not fun. I did a bit more than I usually do, I did a bit more focusing on Rick and I had a bit more fun doing it. Did he notice? I'm not sure. But it felt good in my heart, and that's what counts.
Touch and Words - these two come easy and naturally. I don’t have to schedule it, or think about it. We are very lucky because these two are his primary love languages as well. He shows his love in acts of service, and he wants to receive worlds and touch. I need touch and words. He doesn’t offer as many words, but I know how to translate the acts of service into "I love you, I care". What he does speaks louder than words, and that’s all I need to know. I also ask, often, for things I want to hear, and he’s always willing to play with me. My cup is full.
Quality time - it’s summer. Busiest time in his business. Some weeks he worked 6 days a week, and one week - 7 days. Some days he went to bed at 9. I work in the evenings. We don’t have all that much time together. But we make it work. It’s intentional, light-hearted, and even when it’s only a few minutes, we make it count. Some days I complain, some days we joke that we’ll have to wait till we retire to spend time together and by then we’ll have nothing in common so we wouldn’t even know what to do. But most days, we accept that there's not much time, and appreciate what we get. We try to be gentle with each other too, knowing that it's not always easy.
Out quality time ritual - when he’s on the way home from work, Bailey and I run on the pathways and wait for him on a street as he enters the neighbourhood. He stops, we jump in the car, and it’s a 2 minutes ride home. Having a dog really helps. The dog is so ecstatically happy to see him, he gets everyone in such a good mood, and we drive home just happy to be together. Simple simple. These moments count.
Lessons learned this month:
Ask for what you want if your love language bucket is on empty
Learn how to translate from one love language into another.
Become fluent in each other language
Plan if it doesn't come naturally for you
Mix and Match and have fun with it
Last year I wrote about Your Relationship Bank Account. This concept compares the state of your relationship with the state of one's bank account. Are you rolling in cash, close to empty, in overdraft, or deep in dept? Knowing each other's love languages helps to build up your "savings". Being intentional about it makes all the difference. And when you have an off day, when you feel disconnected, when you get into an argument, when you feel disappointed or frustrated with each other - it's ok, and your "account" can handle it. It doesn't even notice a withdrawal, because it's full. And next deposit, makes up for it, easily and quickly.
What are your primary love languages? What are your partner's? What works about it? What doesn't?
If you want support you in creating your own relationship challenges, feel free to book a free consultation for relationship counselling or coaching in Calgary, AB and everywhere in the world online.