Love, love, love; love is my favorite word. The month of February I am going to embrace love, and discuss it from multiple perspectives. Today I want to wrap my arms around intimate relationships, and how we fan the spark to keep the love, not just alive, but as a thriving part of our life.
What does a loving relationship mean to you? I suspect that every single readers’ answer will hold a different area of concentration based on their beliefs and history. Some will focus on touch, others on feeling heard; for some it will be companionship; easy and supportive conversation; passion and presence; for others the key may be trust and faithfulness; a partner in crime to adventure with; investment as a parent; that energetic pulsation that makes us feel connected. I’d wager to say that no matter which area grabs you deepest, all of these are on most of our total fulfillment list.
I believe the main key to fanning the spark is to understand your needs, and that of your partner. What do you each need to feel loved? Or to receive, or allow yourself to receive, the love that your partner is offering? This also requires us to independently reflect on the needs we are presenting, and to determine if they are needs that we actually desire from our partner, or areas in our life that we are merely lacking self-fulfillment. Perhaps there are parts of our past, or our history, that leave us feeling more vulnerable in certain aspects of our intimate relationship? This may not be the simplest of tasks, mind you, to break apart your actual relationship needs, and the emotional healing that still needs tending. As someone who has fallen head-over-heels in love in the last six months, I assure you, these are the very thoughts that I often seek answers to. For me, those answers can only come from the stillness within me.
So, where is an easy place to start; to begin to understand how love best reaches your soul? Have you ever heard of the “Five Love Languages?” There is an online questionnaire you can complete that will reveal how you best receive love, to be able to experience the full, intended impact. The Five Love Languages are: Acts of Service (going out of their way to help you), Physical Touch (both publicly and privately), Quality Time (focused time spent together), Receiving Gifts (tokens of love and affection), and Words of Affirmation (hearing you are valued). I am offering just a simple summary of each category, but by taking the online questionnaire, the results offered go into much greater detail. I really love this process because it is so crucial to understand that the needs we have around how love best engages us may not be the same as our partners, and thus it will take focused consideration to present your love in the most affective way for the one you love to receive it. Fascinating, right? I would even dare say that couples with similar top Love Languages tend to have less feelings of uncertainty about their relationships.
Think about how many times you have felt insecure in your relationship; concerned with your partner’s contentment. It’s alright; we have likely all done this. Perhaps you have been full on loving your partner, expressing that love as naturally and fully as you can; likely exactly how you, personally, need love to be presented. But, what if your partner needs to received their love in a different way? If we can understand both ours, and our partner’s, Love Language of best receiving love, we are certainly peeling away a layer of confusion or lingering concerns. I suspect that couples whose Love Languages are most similar are often drawn to each other because their initial flirtations are likely better received.
Single? This still applies to you! Learn your Love Language and discover interests that promote that kind of contact. Physical Touch on the top of your list? Perhaps you want to join a local volleyball club? Quality Time ranking high as your Love Language? Perhaps you would enjoy the focused conversations of a book club? Acts of Service? You might find fulfillment doing volunteer work. Words of Affirmation? Consider taking an improvisation or art class.
The more you can begin to recognize how you feel love, and where your needs are coming from within you, the more dynamic your intimate relationship can be. We are whole, as ourselves. If we’re blessed, we are given the opportunity to bath in the warmth of another’s wholeness, and grow each other and together.