If you look at my bookcase you will find a mini library of relationship books. When I realized that I needed some help in making my relationship great, I started devouring every book I could get my hands on.
Years have passed and my relationship is going strong due in a large part to the books I’ve read or relationship coaches that I’ve followed. One of the books that helped me gain insight into being a better partner was The 5 Love Languages.
The author, Gary Chapman, who, as a funny coincidence has the same name as my partner, broke down how we relate to one another in relationships into what he called “Love Languages”.
The 5 Love Languages, as Chapman defines them, are:
- Words of Affirmation
- Quality Time
- Receiving Gifts
- Acts of Service
- Physical Touch
As I have grown with my partner and witnessed our love and commitment to one another deepen, I’ve realized something fascinating.
There is a 6th Love Language that Chapman did not discuss: Acceptance.
Acceptance of your partner as they are and exactly where they are at has to be the greatest love language you can speak.
Have you ever shared something that was really difficult for you to open up about and been given complete acceptance? If so, can you recall the relief you felt (as if a weight had been taken from your shoulders)? Then you know the power of acceptance.
To accept your partner as they are is the most loving thing you can do.
Acceptance as the 6th Love Language
Let’s say that you and your partner have read the book and have figured out that your love language is words of affirmation while their love language is acts of service. What we all naturally do is give what we want to be given. So rather than praising the great job you did on that project around the house, your partner washed your car for you. Acts of service are what they know and are comfortable giving.
It takes effort over time to learn to give to your partner just as they would like rather than how you’d like.
Now, you could be upset and mildly resentful that your partner didn’t speak your love language, giving you the pat on the back that you feel you deserve, and instead spoke their love language to you.
You could see their gesture of washing your car for what it is: an act of love and caring.
You could choose to accept their act of service as love and allow that to fill you up.
Here’s an experiment: the next time you see your partner giving to you in their love language rather than your own, take a deep breath and close your eyes for a moment. Bring your attention to the center of your chest. It may help to place your hand there. Imagine that you can see your heart. Next, imagine that you can see the heart of your partner. Now imagine that you can see love coming from your partner’s heart into your own.
This is exactly what’s happening when your partner washes your car – they are sending love from their heart to yours. If you get caught up in negatively thinking about how they never speak in your love language then you will miss the love they are giving you.
When you accept your partner as they are and how they show love, you open yourself up to an entirely new experience of love. And in that opening, you learn that love can take many different forms.
None of this is to say that you should not try to learn your partner’s love language and try to fill them for each other. On the contrary, do learn all that you can about your partner’s love language. And when they give to you in your love language embrace it.
Nobody’s perfect and there will be days that they don’t or you don’t. On those days, show grace in the form of acceptance and still let your heart be filled by how they show love.
And witness how you, your partner, and your relationship are transformed for better.
Dedicated to my beloved, Gary, who inspires me to be a better person and a better partner every day.
© 2018 Tamara Jefferies.