Identify Your Partner's Communication Preference

Identify Your Partner's Communication Preference

Vijai P. Sharma, Ph.D

"Love begins at home," as some say, but does it become a permanent resident of that home? Or, does it find another home to begin all over again?

One in seven couples are walking down the isle for the third time. Why did one out of seven couples fail twice? Could it be a communication problem?

It seems that the old saying, "Third time is the charm," might be appropriate when one reads the statistics. Third marriages tend to be more stable and durable. Perhaps, by trial and error, those couples have learned what works and what doesn't. One thing among others, the third timers might have learned that lack of communication over time dries up the love reservoir. Or, the reservoir becomes a cesspool.

Love has a language of its own. But different lovers speak different languages. It's possible that both partners might be speaking different love languages and one might not understand the other at all. Say, one partner speaks Arabic and the other French. Both are speaking their own language, but are not exactly winning each other's heart. For one to say, "Excuse me for my French (or Arabic)," won't cut much ice either!

Marriage therapist Dr. Gary Chapman in The Five Love Languages identifies five distinctive love languages and is teaching couples all over the country how to express their love and commitment to each other.

Have you noticed if you go to a foreign land and try to speak the language of the natives, their faces light up? Say, you go to Paris and ask Parisians how to get to a certain place. The locals may not bother to answer if you don't ask them in their own language. So, you begin your sentence with "Mercy…" and the man on the street might be all ears for you.

We all have our communication preferences. We like to be talked to in our language, even though the speaker in front of us may not be able to speak our language perfectly. We forgive the imperfections, provided the other person is making the effort. Don't worry about perfection. Just identify your partner's preference and try to communicate in his or her language.

Some of the examples given by Dr. Chapman of communication mismatch consist of a husband who craves to hear encouraging words from his wife but she feels that cooking a nice dinner is really the way to cheer him up. Or, a wife who really wishes for one-on-one quality time with her husband, but he keeps bringing flowers to her as his expression of love.

Without further ado, here are the five love languages as identified by Chapman: 1) Words of affirmation 2) Quality time 3) Receiving gifts 4) Acts of Service 5) Physical touch.

Giving compliments is one way of expressing words of affirmation. Mark Twain once said, "I can live for two months on a good compliment." Affirmative words might have been Twain's primary love language. As for me, my euphoria on a compliment doesn't last for more than a couple hours. Words of encouragement and appreciation, and kind and humble words have the greatest appeal to those who are tuned in to the verbal medium.

Quality time means giving your partner undivided attention. Listening to your partner while watching TV and punctuating it with occasional "hmm," does not qualify as quality time. It involves such things as the eye contact, focused attention and personal space.

Even if you are opposed to commercialism you might be, if your partner feels most loved when you bring gifts, then do so, while being astute enough to avoid bankruptcy. Jokes apart, spending big money is not necessarily a measure of great love. Many receive their partners' token gift with emotional presence as a bigger present.

Males are notorious for mistaking the desire for physical touch as the desire for sex. Many women, when they are hurting or want to feel loved and needed would say, "I just want him to hold me." To put it in Chapman's words, "If your spouse's primary love language is physical touch, nothing is more important than holding her as she cries."

This little question asked of your partner might very well save your marriage: "What makes you feel most loved?"

The answer will reveal your partner's primary love language. He or she may receive the communication of love and caring in other love languages, but there is one that offers the deepest understanding. It is like we may know several languages, but the mother tongue is the sweetest.

Rarely do both partners have the same primary love language. Identify your partner's primary love language. Learn to express your love to your partner not in your preferred language, but in that of your partner's.

Return to Self Help 

Copyright 2003, Mind Publications 
Posted March 2003


Click for Dr. Sharma's credentials
Dr. Vijai Sharma
Your Life Coach
By Telephone

Feedback- Let us know how we are doing

Terms and Conditions

Web site designed and maintained by Chanda Taylor