When we actively share our love with others, we open ourselves to receiving more love in return and our lives are enhanced.
When I heard their story they were about 10 months into their committed life together. This couple loved each other, no doubt. Things were going well, except for this one small thing. You see, he was feeling rather put off that when he was using the bathroom, his partner would just “barge in” and begin chatting about whatever was going on.
On the surface, it might appear to be a funny story except that this gentleman was feeling much distress about the situation. However, his partner was oblivious to any discomfort he was experiencing, for two reasons. The first was that he had not shared his feelings with her and second, this “bathroom activity” was perfectly normal, acceptable and comfortable for her. It turns out that when she was growing up, sharing time in the bathroom to engage in conversation was natural and comfortable for her family.
She and her sisters would often find themselves gathered in the bathroom applying make-up, curling hair, painting fingernails, all the while conversing and connecting with one another. Unbeknownst to this caring young woman, her partner had not been raised in a home with a community bathroom as she had grown up so accustomed to. He grew up in a very private family. It would not only have been inappropriate to “barge” into the bathroom while another family member was using it, it would have been considered downright rude and obnoxious. Two different perspectives based on two different life experiences. While we’re all wired for connection, sometimes it requires focus, practice and skills to navigate and maintain successful relationships. This is one example of why challenges arise at times. With a bit of understanding about the reasons behind behaviors, we tend to have more compassion and patience when handling the present situation. In this circumstance, we can easily see that there isn’t a wrong or a right, bad or a good. Here were two people coming together with two different experiences about intimacy. Eventually, with a deeper understanding and equipped with additional information about why this was happening, these two were able to compassionately discuss their needs and come to a happy compromise moving forward. This might appear as a rather insignificant issue, but it sure does remind me of that quote, “It isn’t the mountains ahead to climb that wear you out; it’s the pebble in your shoe.” If we don’t offer care and attention to the little things, over time, they can become the big things that wear you out. This Maya Angelou quote can be applied to our relationships as well as anything else in our lives,
“Do the best you can until you know better. Then, when you know better, do better.”
When we stay open to learning new ideas versus continuing to apply old knowledge, even though it may not be working, developing our personal relationships can become easier and more fulfilling. I first read the book The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman in 1998. It was so eye opening to understand at a deeper level that we all feel loved and communicate love in our own unique way. I knew this was a valuable piece of insight. While the book was written with an intimate partner in mind, I found that the Five Love Languages helped me strengthen all of the relationships in my life, including friends, co-workers and even with my children. I wasn’t surprised when The Five Love Languages for children was published. Chapman developed 5 emotional love languages and says that to meet your partners deep emotional need to feel loved and valued, you’ll need to know their top love language and vice versa. He calls this “filling the love tank.” The 5 love languages are, in no particular order,
Acts of Service,
Words of Affirmation
and Quality Time.
To discover your #1 love language, there is a quiz offered in the book and also one available online. While there are a myriad of tremendously valuable skills and tools out there for cultivating healthy and successful relationships, I find the 5 love languages to be a fun and insightful place to begin or expand dialogue. February is the month it seems as though we can’t walk into any store without an overwhelming sea of pink and red hearts jumping out at us, a reminder that love is in the air. As we celebrate Valentine’s Day and the spirit of love, I am reminded of a quote by Morrie Schwartz, “The most important thing in life is to learn how to give out love, and to let it come in.” When we actively share our love with others, we open ourselves to receiving more love in return and our lives are enhanced. May we all experience the beauty of love this month. xo -a