Love Defined

Article written by Alicia van Vuuren

For centuries February has been celebrated as the month of love and romance. This originated when St Valentine continued to perform matrimony ceremonies and defied the law that young soldiers needed to remain single.

Today Valentine’s Day, whether we celebrate it or not, reminds us that being and feeling loved is a basic human desire which Maslow identified in his hierarchy of needs. What love means to us differs to others. Gary Chapman in his book The Five Love Languages, not only describes the different ways in which we want to be loved, but also how we need to be consciously aware of our partner’s Love Language.

We love the way we want to be loved, rather than how our partners need us to love them. If your love language is Acts of Service, but your partner’s Love Language is Physical Affection, no matter how many things you DO for your partner, he/she will not feel loved.

The following are some ways you could enrich your marriage and relationship:

Communication – This still remains the number one reason couple’s experience difficulties in their relationship.

Often the lack of communication leads to wrongful assumptions. Nthaba grew up with a view that silence meant approval. Ntabiseng however grew up believing that silence communicated dissatisfaction. Because this was never communicated, Ntabiseng concluded that nothing she did was ever good enough. When she informed Nthaba that she wanted a divorce, he was taken by complete surprise and felt devastated.

Nthaba had believed they had a happy marriage. When we identified the meaning of silence in their marriage, they were able to reassure each other of their love and communicate their true meanings and approvals.

Confront Conflict – Conflict is not unhealthy nor is it an indication of a dysfunctional relationship.

Being able to differ in opinions and view-points is a healthy and functional indication of a strong relationship. Differing personalities make dealing with conflict more challenging than for others, but creating a safe space for your partner to verbalise their difference will prevent the build-up of resentment or passive aggressive reactions. Steven grew up in a home where conflict was always avoided.

Sarah however never shied away from sharing her opinion but soon became resentful towards Steven for supressing his anger which would lead to explosions that were often unrelated or misplaced. Steven agreed that he needed to find his voice and practice being assertive vs submissive or passive aggressive.

Hear-t: What I refer to here is that it is important to hear the heart of the other person.

When we are listening to our partner’s complaints, concerns or arguments and your response is to defend yourself or actions, it ends up in lengthy debates about the events. When we listen to hear the heart message, we hear how our partner is feeling and that is the actual need that should be addressed. Klara and Gerhard came to marriage counselling following an argument which Klara described as the “last straw”.

She described Gerhard as a workaholic and never making time for her and the kids. Gerhard however felt completely unappreciated in the marriage and felt that Klara didn’t understand that his work gave them the life that they had always wanted.

Gerhard and Klara fought about times he should be at home and weekends that should not include work meetings. When Gerhard was able to “hear” Klara’s need to feel prioritized rather than him give up his work, they were able to reach a solution that made them both feel appreciated and loved.

The Magical 4 – A’s: Acknowledgement , Appreciation , Apologies and Affection
Acknowledging our partner’s feelings, appreciating their efforts, apologizing for our role in how we made them feel and showing affection are the keys to successful communication.

May this case example be you…HAPPY VALENTINES MONTH