Too often this question comes to mind, “what will it take to make a relationship work?” This question is quite a big one and I cannot sit here writing and tell you that I have all the answers, because I do not. However what little wisdom I have received over the years, I shall attempt to impart.
Have you ever heard of this thing called Love Languages? If you haven’t, you should check it out. It was a book initially written by an anthropologist with a wealth of knowledge and experience (45 years married) called Dr. Gary Chapman. Dr. Chapman has since then written countless books on relationships, hosted seminars and devised a test you can take here,
which is free! The test has served me well on a very basic level to understand what exactly makes me feel loved. Is it Quality Time, Physical Touch, Acts of Service, Words of Affirmation or Receiving Gifts?
Depending on who you are you will score quite highly in a particular expression(s)of love. Over the years I have tested myself and what I have come to realise is this, you will have about three that are quite prominent. However, if you are in a relationship, your scores might fluctuate. This variation depends on what you might be lacking in your current relationship. Let me give you an example. You might be in a long distance relationship, but you both message, Skype and FT a lot. You have his emotional support in all your endeavors; he sends you flowers on your Birthday and certain gifts randomly. In that case you feel his love in terms of Words of Affirmation, possibly Quality Time (in as much as you can have it) and Receiving Gifts. If you do the test then, you might rate a little higher than usual in the Physical Touch department seeing as that is not something you have a lot of in your current relationship. In that case, the Quality Time you guys share, FaceTiming, Skyping is needed to make up for what you lack in physical presence. As you probably know, communication is the most crucial thing in a long distance relationship; otherwise you are in a relationship with a ghost.
What I will do now, is to take each Love Language in turn, and if you rate highly in one of them or semi – equally in more than one, these are tips you might find helpful to help your relationship last.
You love to spend time with your partner. Not you, your partner, ten friends and his mobile phone. What is important is the undivided attention of your partner. If this is your main love language make sure that no matter how busy you get, you and your partner get to spend some good alone time. Whether it is dinner, going to the cinema, travelling together, taking a class together or kicking it at home. Whatever tickles your fancy as long as it is YouTwoTime. I would stress in light of the fast paced tech world, that your androids, iPhones, and Blackberry’s are not involved. Constant use of mobile phones has put a major strain on relationships in the 21st Century.
For this one, nothing makes you feel more loved than receiving a gift. This one I find quite funny, because if you put this in the context of Nigerian men and women, some people can take the mickey. Certain people don’t just ask for designer gifts, some people ask for cars, houses, shares in a company etc. I stress that both women and men, should be realistic. Speaking to women in particular now – depending on how old he is, or how settled he is, the guy might just be starting off in life. He cannot afford to buy you a car. Depending on how much he manages to save, he might be able to get you a designer item.
However, if one is to go back to the whole point of receiving a gift, it should be a way your partner shows you that he loves you, it should be a kind gesture. It does not have to be a grandiose act or an expensive gift. In fact I find the smallest actions mean the most. Receiving some flowers and a card at random with a beautiful message found within it is the most romantic thing. Now I am not saying that receiving designer gifts is a bad thing. I won’t turn it down if I was to receive it. However, commanding or demanding it, as if you are entitled or have some right to it, is where I have a problem. Let the giving of an expensive gift be his way of spoiling you. I find that the Nigerian society in particular has turned things on its head and the unrealistic expectations people have, poses unnecessary pressure in relationships especially on the men (who are the ones that are dictated to provide and to ‘woo’). The poor guy probably smitten with you will get into debt! Some steal, or shall I say ‘borrow’ just to impress you. Biko everyone needs to chill!
Disclaimer: Now guys, if you are dating a girl who rates highly in gifts, whatever your judgments are, if you know you can’t cut it, then don’t get involved with her, especially if she has expensive taste. Ultimately, your relationship will be strained, as you are not able to cater to her apparent ‘needs’.
Words of Affirmation
This one can be controversial but it need not be. Some people would argue that the person is needy etc. To break it down, words of affirmation means that your partner tells you how much they love you. They are there to support you in whatever you do. If you get a 1st class in your degree, your partner tells you how proud they are of you, how much they believe in you etc. That is not too much to ask for in a relationship. At the end of the day a relationship is a partnership, you want to know your partner in life believes in you, loves you and will support you in your various endeavors. If this is your main love language you cannot be with a self-obsessed partner. As soon as you detect that please walk away. How can you be with someone who expects you to support them, but they are unwilling to do the same? No matter whether this is their main love language or not, unless your partner is willing to change who they are for you (bearing in mind that they will revert to form) is that a risk you are willing to take?
This love language comes more naturally to women I would argue than it does to men. Seeing as women are usually the emotional support unit in any relationship or family. However, trust me when I say if a man really loves you, and believes in what you do, he will support you and push you to be a better version of yourself. Look for your cheerleader, not someone who is intimidated by your light and as a result, dampens your shine. You are an #étoile remain that way.
Acts of Service
This can mean different things to different people. It could be that your partner helps you wash up the dishes after you have cooked. They picked up your siblings from school while you had a prior engagement. They did the weekly shop. They took you home when you were in a tight spot. They helped you finish a project, etc. Whatever the action is, what is certain is that your partner has gone out of their way to do something to help you out. If this is your main love language you need to communicate it to your partner. Naturally I find in relationships that people do things they don’t usually do (in a good way most times), to make their partner happy. So it might just come naturally to your partner, if it doesn’t, ask them to help you out, communicate your needs.
This one pretty much goes without saying. It begins with an arm across your shoulder, to holding hands, to a hug and much more. If this is how you connect with your partner it is important to let them know. Honesty is the best policy and there is no shame in it.
If both you and partner have a disconnect on a serious level, then depending on how you want to deal with it, you might consider not being with this person. Here’s why. There is that saying that if your partner really loves you, he will wait for you. In some cases, that is true, but at the same time, you are depriving your partner of what they think they need in their relationship. This deprivation does not serve you or your relationship well. Hence you have some people putting pressure on their partners to go farther than they are comfortable, or constantly complaining that they are not happy which in turn again puts pressure on their partner. In those cases, please free yourself and move on. There is no point straining your relationship. Now if you are that guy or girl, that is able to put this one aside in your relationship, in terms of the ‘much more.’ Then that’s brilliant! I hope you enter a relationship with someone who is on the same wave length as you.
However, I must warn you, people change over time for different reasons. What they think they want might not be the same in a year etc. So, you might find yourself in a relationship where you and your partner are on different levels. If that is the case, both of you have to be patient, communicate your needs. Find out what works for both of you and work within a realistic timeline. No one can wait forever.
Now that I have gone through these love languages, what’s next?
Discussion. This test is not only for you, but it’s also for your partner. By you both realising what expression(s) of love speak most to each other, you can take strives to implement what works for each other.
Tell me my #étoile, what is your love language?
Photo Credit: Dreamstime | Michael Zhang