Relationships boil down to trust and communication. (Okay, if you’re like me, you may suck at one, so you have to be stellar at the other). Communication is the glue AND plaster of a relationship: it holds it together and smooths over holes.

Effective communication is how you learn about one another, how you set a vision for the relationship, how you resolve disagreements, how you get along in the present (talking is the stuff you do between making out), and how you plan for the future (raising kids, handle money, etc.). In other words, communication is a skill set you have to learn or you will have rough times ahead.

The idea of communication is a broad one, and I’m sure I’ll be taking several swipes at this, so I’m going to focus on one idea. At the risk of you making me turn in my guy card, I once read a book called the Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman. Essentially, it put forth the idea that people communicate in five different ways and that people have to learn how they and their significant others speak and hear their “love language”. The five languages are (from his site):

1. Words of Affirmation – Mark Twain once said “I can live for two months on a good compliment.” Verbal appreciation speaks powerfully to persons whose primary Love Language is “Words of Affirmation.” Another way to communicate through “Words of Affirmation” is to offer encouragement.

2. Quality Time – Quality time is more than mere proximity. It’s about focusing all your energy on your mate. Quality conversation is very important in a healthy relationship. It involves sharing experiences, thoughts, feelings and desires in a friendly, uninterrupted context.

3. Receiving Gifts – Some mates respond well to visual symbols of love. If you speak this love language, you are more likely to treasure any gift as an expression of love and devotion. People who speak this love language often feel that a lack of gifts represents a lack of love from their mate. Luckily, this love language is one of the easiest to learn.

4. Acts of Service – Sometimes simple chores around the house can be an undeniable expression of love. Even simple things like laundry and taking out the trash require some form of planning, time, effort, and energy. Just as Jesus demonstrated when he washed the feet of his disciples, doing humble chores can be a very powerful expression of love and devotion to your mate. It is important to do these acts of service out of love and not obligation.

5. Physical Touch – Many mates feel the most loved when they receive physical contact from their partner. For a mate who speaks this love language loudly, physical touch can make or break the relationship. Sexual intercourse makes many mates feel secure and loved in a marriage. However, it is only one dialect of physical touch.

As it happens, I am primarily an acts of service and secondarily a physical touch person, while my wife is primarily a quality time and secondarily … a quality time person. So obviously there was a time when we had to figure out how best to communicate even something as simple as how we felt about one another. This is just one aspect of communication. I’m positive I’ll be re-visiting this topic.

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