If you have been reading One Flesh Marriage for a while you have probably gotten used to our pattern of post and response. Today I’m stepping out a bit by responding not to one of Kate’s posts, but to a great post by The Generous Husband, titled “Do Love Languages Change?” Go ahead check it out, I’ll wait!
This isn’t the first time that we have discussed the seminal book, “The 5 Love Languages” at One Flesh Marriage. If you haven’t read it you might be wondering why we keep talking about it. If you have read it, well then you already know! I am going to give the cliff notes version of the book for a bit of context, so bear with me, or if you already have your dog eared copy memorized just skip the next paragraph.
The 5 Love Languages by Gary Chapman presents the theory that there are 5 different ways to we speak and understand love. Every person has a primary and secondary love language. To express love to others we naturally speak in our primary language. And we want to “hear” others expressing love to us by speaking in that same way. The difficulty is that many times differences attract, and couples do not speak the same language of love. So, while one person is very busy doing all kinds of services for their spouse that spouse is busy giving the person gifts. What happens? Neither feels loved and both feel ignored leaving their “love tank” on empty. Sound familiar?
The 5 love languages are:
- Words of Affirmation
- Acts of service
- Physical touch
- Quality time
Paul, The Generous Husband wrote that his bride had discovered that her love language had changed since the beginning of their marriage. He mentioned that as he was responsive to his wife’s love needs at the beginning of their marriage her needs “moved into a more natural place for who God made her to be.” I think this is brilliant! We often think about a character trait or need as being shaped by our past and we miss the idea that God’s plan for that same trait can be much greater in the view of the fullness of his love for us!
Paul also said that as his wife and he grew, her natural desire for touch surfaced, and now her primary love language is physical touch. There is an interesting similarity between Paul’s story and what Kate and I have experienced. When we were first married, touch was one of the last items on Kate’s love language list, while it was first on mine. Actually, it was higher then first, I think I listed it as both primary and secondary at one point asking “is there anything other then touch?”
I made the mistake of equating the love language of physical touch with sex. I felt loved when we had sex so I assumed that physical touch was my love language. I have a theory that any man, who thinks that they want sex more frequently in their marriage will bias the 5 love languages assessment to say that physical touch is their primary love language. While any woman, who is having intimacy issues, or has a husband who is constantly and inappropriately asking for more sex will bias their desire for physical touch lower on the list.
Kate and I have found that when love is freely and abundantly given, when both partner’s love tanks are full and when both partners are very satisfied with the level of sexual intimacy in the relationship new preferences and new love languages begin to surface.
Now that Kate and I have removed clutter from our lives, and focused on God’s call to journey towards a One Flesh Marriage we have both discovered that our primary love languages have shifted. She is now physical touch, while I am quality time. I chuckle at the reality that in the shifting we are still not the same, but the benefit is that we both now have a clearer and more natural understanding of what it takes to fill up each other’s tanks!
What does all this mean for you? Well for one, maybe it is time to revisit The 5 Love Language’s Assessment. They now have a wonderful on line assessment tool that will help you to determine your primary and secondary languages. Double check and see if either of yours have changed! As you and your wife change, grow and is filled with love from each other and from God, it is very possible, even likely that you will experience a change in love needs as well!
Also, if you have mastered the art of speaking your wife’s primary love language, you might want to consider ways to add in other languages as well. No one said that you only had to be a bilingual love speaker! Try trilingual or heck go all the way for pentalingual. You might find as you start speaking a new language your wife’s love tank will start overflowing even more!