The amount of love you feel for that special someone in your life can sometimes be different than the way that special someone feels and perceives that love from you. This difference can be a main source of conflict in romantic relationships, sometimes referred to as a communication problem. This problem is often more complicated than simple difficulty with expressing your thoughts and feelings openly in a manner that is well received by that special someone. In law enforcement culture, where control of emotion is a valued skill and expected during a crisis, coming back to a place of showing feelings readily and openly is often difficult for most officers. How you show your love and how it is felt by your significant other depends on factors analyzed by Dr. Gary Chapman in The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love That Lasts. His conclusion is that, to have a successful relationship, just having the feeling of love is not enough: You must learn to express this in the right way by speaking the right “love language” so that your significant other can understand your “acts of love.”
The five love languages are described by Dr. Chapman as follows:
1. Words of affirmation: “Actions don’t always speak louder than words. If this is your love language, unsolicited compliments mean the world to you. Hearing the words, ‘I love you’ are important — hearing the reasons behind that love sends your spirits skyward. Insults can leave you shattered and are not easily forgotten.”
2. Quality time: “Nothing says, ‘I love you,’ like full undivided attention. Being there for this type of person is critical, but really being there — with the TV off, fork and knife down, and all chores and tasks on standby — makes your significant other feel truly special and loved. Distraction, postponed dates, or the failure to listen can be especially hurtful.”
3. Receiving gifts: “Don’t mistake this love language for materialism; the receiver of gifts thrives on the love, thoughtfulness, and effort behind the gift … the perfect gift or gesture shows that you are known, you are cared for, and you are prized above whatever was sacrificed to bring the gift to you. A missed birthday, anniversary, or hasty, thoughtless gift would be disastrous — so would the absence of everyday gestures.”
4. Acts of service: “Can vacuuming the floors really be an expression of love? Absolutely! Anything you do to ease the burden of responsibilities … speak volumes. The words he or she most want to hear: ‘Let me do that for you.’ Laziness, broken commitments, and making more work for them tell them… their feelings don’t matter.”
5. Physical touch: “Hugs, pats on the back, holding hands, and thoughtful touches on the arm, shoulder, or face — they can all be ways to show excitement, concern, care, and love. Physical presence and accessibility are crucial, while neglect or abuse can be unforgivable and destructive.”
To begin examining your expression of love, Dr. Chapman would recommend that you take the 30-item love language quiz (www.5lovelanguages.com/quizzes/love-language), where you are instructed to choose which one of two behaviors is “more meaningful.” You then add the scores to end up, with a percentage score for each. You are guided to focus on your top two, called primary and secondary. The premise is that your relationship satisfaction is dependent on how well your significant other “speaks” the love language that you understand. In other words, sharing your preferred type of love language is essential to feeling more loved by your significant other. Additionally, if your desire is to improve the relationship, you can learn to speak the other language that your significant other prefers so that they can feel more love from you. At the end, your goal is to have the same language that you both can understand, speak and value.
If you feel that you are struggling to connect in your relationship and want to learn new ways to improve your relationship with your significant other, please contact Psychological Services Bureau (PSB) at (213) 738-3500. To obtain additional information, you may visit our intranet site (https://lasd.sharepoint.com/sites/ lasd_intranet/SitePages/psb.aspx).