We have a biological drive to be loved. I write often about secure attachment, a concept originally from John Bowlby regarding children, and taken forward to adult primary relationships by experts such as Dr. Stan Tatkin. The gist of it is that we know our partner has our back, we seek comfort and sex from one another, and we create a home as haven from which to venture out into the big world. In The 5 Love Languages, Gary Chapman offers a tremendous tool toward creating secure attachment. One of my clients said it was "the missing piece" he needed to work on his marriage.
There are two main points that stood out for me:
You each have a love language that when met fills your "emotional love tank." When your partner is showing love -- in his or her love language -- and not YOUR love language, your tank doesn't fill, and you feel unloved. Chapman describes it as speaking a foreign language -- of course we don't get it.
The wild in-love feeling is chemically driven and lasts two years, tops. You often stop showing love in the ways you did when courting, and both end up wondering what happened and why you don't feel loved anymore.
I noticed this with my mom when I was growing up. She didn't feel loved even though from the outside it was obvious that people were giving her love. Now it makes sense.
The five languages are words of affirmation, quality time, gifts, acts of service, and physical touch (includes sex, but also much more). When you figure out our own love language, and your partner figures out hers, you begin to give in the way that makes each one feel most loved. We figuratively learn Chinese.
Loving each other in the "right" language won't solve all of your problems, but having your "love tank" full will make it a heck of a lot easier to work on those problems with love, compassion, openness, curiosity, and motivation.
Chapman has several books, so be sure to start with this title. My small warning: Chapman's book has a Christian tint to it, that gets stronger toward the end of the book. He does attempt to be inclusive to those of other faiths. My view is always to look for what's useful, and not sweat the other stuff.
You can take the online 5 Love Languages quiz, I think the questions might seem lame, but the results aren't!