Sharmen Kimbrough discusses ways to communicate with your spouse, discover your spouse’s love language and how to improve connection by learning to speak his or her language. She also answers the question, “What do I do when I’m feeling depleted and struggling to love my spouse?”
How to Effectively Communicate with Your Spouse
Is your relationship characterized by disconnect and not feeling loved or not feeling like the ways you express love are accepted? Sharmen from the Marriage Recovery Center, talks about the importance of being able to speak your spouse’s love language. You have probably heard this terminology before, and there are whole books written on this topic of speaking love languages. So the idea is simple: if you can figure out what it is that means the most to your spouse, how they feel the most loved, if you can figure that out, then you can do those things or speak those things to them, and they will feel loved. That’s the idea.
Understanding Love Languages
Understanding your spouse’s love language is a crucial aspect of maintaining a healthy and loving relationship. The concept of love languages, as popularized by Dr. Gary Chapman, revolves around the idea that people express and receive love in different ways. These love languages are essentially the unique channels through which individuals feel most loved and cherished.
The five primary love languages are:
- Quality Time: This love language emphasizes spending quality, undivided attention with your partner. Simply being present and engaged in meaningful conversations can be incredibly fulfilling for those whose love language is quality time.
- Acts of Service: For some, actions speak louder than words. Acts of service involve performing tasks or thoughtful gestures that make your partner’s life easier or more enjoyable.
- Words of Affirmation: This love language is all about verbal appreciation and compliments. Words of affirmation can boost your partner’s self-esteem and make them feel loved and valued.
- Gifts: For individuals whose love language is gifts, receiving physical tokens of affection is highly meaningful. These gifts don’t need to be extravagant; it’s the thought and effort behind them that matter most.
- Physical Touch: Physical touch encompasses non-sexual physical gestures like hugging, kissing, cuddling, and holding hands. It’s a vital aspect of intimate connection for those whose love language is physical touch.
Discovering Your Spouse’s Love Language
If you’re trying to determine your spouse’s love language, it’s usually easiest to observe how they express love to others. People often communicate love in the way they prefer to receive it. However, it’s essential to be cautious not to label your spouse prematurely. They might do things for others that don’t necessarily align with their own love language.
The best way to find out your spouse’s love language is through open and honest communication. Ask questions, listen actively, and be genuinely curious about what makes them feel loved. Don’t expect them to fit neatly into a specific love language box, as love is dynamic and can change with circumstances and emotional states.
Flexibility in Love Languages
It’s important to acknowledge that a person’s preferred love language can change. For example, someone whose love language is usually physical touch may not desire it when they’re feeling hurt or unwell. In such instances, flexibility is key. Be attuned to your partner’s emotional state and adapt your expressions of love accordingly.
The Importance of Connection
A key to a successful relationship is to make your spouse feel loved by showing them that you are making an effort to understand them. Connection is the glue that holds relationships together. Here are some strategies to foster and maintain this connection:
Challenge Yourself to Be Vulnerable
Sometimes, you may feel too depleted to give love, even if you want to. In such situations, it’s essential to be vulnerable enough to ask for what you need. By being open about your own needs, you create a space for your spouse to understand you better and offer support.
Loving your partner effectively starts with loving yourself. If you’re constantly drained, you’ll struggle to provide the love and attention your spouse needs. Therefore, pay attention to self-care, including aspects like:
- Sleep: Ensure you’re getting adequate sleep to maintain emotional stability and energy.
- Nutrition: A balanced diet can have a significant impact on your mood and overall well-being.
- Exercise: Regular physical activity can boost your mood and provide you with the energy needed to be an attentive and loving partner.
- Mental Rest: It’s essential to let your mind rest, especially if you’re under stress. Engage in activities that relax you, such as meditation or hobbies.
By taking care of yourself, you’ll be better equipped to provide the love and support your spouse requires.
Sometimes, love is a choice. When things get tough or emotions are strained, it may be challenging to feel affectionate toward your partner. In these moments, making a conscious decision to choose love can be the most powerful action. Opting to express love in a meaningful way to your spouse, even when it’s not easy, can help strengthen your relationship.
In conclusion, understanding your spouse’s love language is a fundamental aspect of building a strong and lasting marriage. It provides the motivation to navigate challenges and maintain a deep connection. While the concept of love languages is a valuable tool, it’s equally important to be flexible, practice self-care, and choose love, even in difficult times. By making an effort to speak your spouse’s love language and nurturing your relationship, you can build a more loving and fulfilling partnership.
About Dr. Hawkins:
The internet is inundated with hyperbole and misinformation about narcissism, leaving many people confused and hopeless. Get the facts on narcissism and emotional abuse from someone who has been researching, writing about and treating narcissism and emotional abuse for over a decade.
Dr. Hawkins is a best-selling author and clinical psychologist with over three decades of experience helping people break unhealthy patterns and build healthier relationships.
He is the founder and director of the Marriage Recovery Center and the Emotional Abuse Institute which offers education, training and counseling for people who want to break free of, and heal from, emotional abuse. Whether the perpetrator of the abuse is your spouse, partner, parent, boss, friend or family member, we offer practical advice for anyone trapped in a toxic, destructive relationship.
In addition to narcissism & emotional abuse, you’ll learn about the lesser known forms of abuse, including covert abuse, reactive abuse, spiritual abuse, secondary abuse, relationship trauma and much more.