As we saw yesterday, divorce is a very common thing in our world. Self-reported reasons for divorce include the following:
- Financial problems/disagreements
- Constant arguing
- Unrealistic/unarticulated expectations
- Lack of physical intimacy
Many of these issues really deal with one major issue in all relationships: communication. Regardless of whether you’re married or not, this one thing can truly sour a friendship, strain a marriage, or even lead to ugly bitterness.
You may have heard of this idea in Christian pop-psychology… one helpful idea is something called the five love languages. These different practices and ways to communicate can truly make the difference with any relationship, especially with your husband or wife.
A fellow named Gary Chapman popularized this idea in the 1990s. Some have criticized his work for being too simplistic, but I still think it can be a helpful tool. Chapman argued that human beings basically have five different ways in which we express and receive love. We “speak” these different love languages by how we act. We also receive love based on who we are as a person. One language is not inherently better than the other, but it is important to be aware if you are different from your partner. Here’s how Chapman describes the five languages:
- Words of Affirmation– Compliments and encouragement really speak volumes.
- Physical Touch– Focusing on things like hugging, kissing, or other signs of physical intimacy.
- Receiving Gifts– Presents during holidays or special times show love to a spouse.
- Quality Time– Valuing making time to “hang out” and develop that lifelong friendship.
- Acts of Service– Doing household chores or work can really impact someone.
(As a brief side note: here’s a link to an online quiz about which love languages you might have… check it out!)
Tragically, many marriage troubles stem from lack of communication about what “love language” each person speaks. Here are a couple of hypothetical examples of possible disconnects…
- Susie really likes receiving gifts, but her husband Mark happens to forget to buy flowers on their anniversary. Susie interprets this as Mark not caring about this special occasion.
- If John prizes words of affirmation and encouragement after a tough day, and his wife Brittney is short with him instead of affirming, chances are John will not feel valued whatsoever. (This is particularly a huge issue with things like verbal abuse!)
- Rachel enjoys the quality time with her spouse during a date night of dinner and a movie. But her husband, Peter, always wants to go fishing with friends for every bit of his free time. From Rachel’s perspective, Peter seems to love and appreciate his friends more than her by how he allots his time!
- Nick loves nothing more than cuddling up on the couch after a long day with his wife, Danielle. But if she is busy running around tending to other matters, Nick would feel neglected and unloved.
We all speak different love languages depending on our personalities. For example, I know that my wife really appreciates acts of service. So after a day of work, nothing says “I love you” to her more than coming home to a clean house or a nice meal for dinner. Flowers, chocolates, and compliments might be nice, but I know her primary expression of love is good deeds. From balancing a budget and keeping track of bills, to vacuuming and folding laundry, I know that I can show my wife love by doing these acts of service.
One way to deepen your marriage covenant is to genuinely communicate with one another. Be aware of how you express and receive love. Have those kinds of conversations. Get to know your husband or wife more.
Jesus taught us the core meaning of marriage, of a man leaving his mother and father, and being united with his wife. Being “one” with one another isn’t just a figure of speech for physical intimacy. It also means being one in things like communication, understanding, and purpose.