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the RELATIONSHIP dance WITH VICKI MINERVA Speaking the Language(s) of Love D o you remember how exhilarated you felt in the beginning of your relation- ship? That special person took up a LOT of space in your mind. It was an exciting, intoxicating experience. There was a freshness and joy to being with your loved one in those early days. As the years pass and the commitments and struggles of life pierce the bubble, the satisfaction wanes. Most (but not all) of us figure out that the first, star-struck phase of a relationship can’t be sustained. The tricky part is learning how to make the transition to a loving relationship over time. When your life together moves through the grind of daily living, it helps to understand the ways that our partner “speaks” love to keep love alive. I’ve seen the hurt that results from feeling unappreciated and unloved because someone doesn’t understand how to communicate in a way that truly connects. This same concept extends to communicating with kids and co-workers too. Author Gary Chapman has written about this in his book, The 5 Love Languages. Take a look and see which ones fit you and which fit the people in your life. Words of Affirmation The person who speaks this language gives praise and appreciation with words, to let you know they think you’re wonderful. They need to hear it from you, too. It’s in this way that they know they’re special. Words of criticism have a powerful impact that can deeply wound this person. Acts of Service This is the person who shows love by helping with the chores and making sure that they do what they said they would do. They feel loved when you ask if you can get them something when you walk into the kitchen or help them prepare dinner. On the flip side, if you don’t do what you committed to do, they will be offended and feel unimportant. Affection/Physical Touch This person responds well to a hug, kiss, or snuggling. In an intimate relationship, it’s also sexual, but not just that. Be careful with tickling or groping, as it isn’t universally appealing. Discretion is obviously needed in the workplace, but a handshake or pat on the back can go a long way to provide affirmation to those who speak this language. In the absence of touch, they will feel isolated and alone, unappreciated. Gifts This isn’t about materialism. Even small gifts can go a long way to show this person you are thinking of them. Pay attention to their preferences for foods, flowers, or treats. A gift card to say thanks to a coworker may go farther than an email with kudos. To the person who speaks this language, a gift shows you are appreciative of them, and you make the effort to understand what they like. Quality Time This person loves to spend time doing things with you. Checking in at the end of the day, working on a project together, going for a walk, or playing a game are samples of how you might speak this language. It’s always a best bet to ask them what they prefer. They will feel like the day is empty without time to connect. Most people typically have one or two of the above as their primary languages. When you’re not speaking the same language as your partner, child, friend or coworker, you may feel that your efforts at being thought- ful or loving are falling short of the mark. For example: If her love language is ‘Acts of Service’ and yours is ‘Gifts’, she’ll appreciate the flowers you bring her, but will feel really cared for when you help her get the kids going in the morning. If one of his primary love languages is ‘Physical Touch’ and yours is ‘Quality Time’, he may enjoy a picnic at the beach, but he’ll feel loved when you embrace him when he comes home from work. Notice if your child blossoms when you praise him, or stops acting out when you sit down and read her a story. These are all clues to what makes them feel loved. Discover your languages when you take an online quiz, based on Chapman’s book, at: 5lovelanguages. com/profile. In the same way that it’s important to be sensitive to cultural differences when you travel, you can be aware of, and respond to the things that speak most effectively to the people who matter in your life. Even if it’s not your “native language,” you can become more fluent in the love languages of others and enhance the effectiveness, closeness and satisfaction in your relationships. Vicki Minerva has lived and worked in the South County area as a Marriage and Family Therapist for over 35 years. She and her husband George raised two beautiful daughters with the help of the village here. Her educa- tion includes a M.Div. degree from Fuller Seminary and a M.A. in Marriage, Family Counseling from Santa Clara University. You can contact her at 408.848.8793 or visit her website at vickiminerva.com My goal is to provide you with some information and help you access tools that will help you live your life and manage your relationships in healthier ways. This information is not a substitute for personal counseling and should not be taken out of context. There are many reputable therapists in the South County area should you need additional help. 96 GILROY • MORGAN HILL • SAN MARTIN JULY / AUGUST 2016 gmhtoday.com