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How to Love Someone in the Way They Need

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How to Love Someone in the Way They Need

When I turned 30, my husband threw me a “surprise” party. I add quotes because my husband can’t keep a secret, no matter how hard he tries. He thought that by throwing me a surprise party he was showing how much he loved me. He actually believed I’d be thrilled beyond words. He couldn’t have been more wrong.

Here’s the thing: I don’t like surprises. And I don’t like parties. Furthermore, as an introvert by nature, I don’t like being around large groups of people. An ideal “party” for me would have been a quiet dinner with just the family, or a couple of close friends.

We speak very different love languages, my husband and I. He planned a big gala affair because that’s what he would have liked. He honestly imagined I’d like it, too. A party of 30 people was not my idea of being loved in the way I would have liked being loved. To his credit, however, it was early on in our relationship, and he wasn’t yet in tune to the love language I spoke. He knows better than to try something like that today.

Even though I wasn’t thrilled about the party, I didn’t say so, not until much later in our marriage. I really appreciated how hard he tried to please me, to make me happy, and to celebrate a milestone birthday. He attempted to show his love in the best way he knew how, and for that, I was grateful.

Love—it’s a big word. It’s one that stirs up big feelings. However, query anyone about love and its meaning, and you’ll more than likely catch that someone stumbling all over themselves in an effort to do it succinctly. I mean, how do you describe a word that carries with it so many possible manifestations? There is no easy way.

What Is Love?

The word love is both a noun and a verb. In relationships, be that as it may, it is mostly demonstrated with some type of action, subtle or grand, but an action, nonetheless, making it very much a verb. Love and its multiple meanings leave its expression ample room for creativity. Because it can be expressed in so many ways, it can often leave lovers disappointed in its wake if not received in the anticipated way.

Based on disparate backgrounds and world views, people feel love and show love in a myriad of contrasting ways. If you and your partner speak love in the same manner, no problem. You will both be quite happy, satisfied, and in tune with each other.

But if you don’t, then a little talk might be in order. If you want to have your intimate emotional needs[1] met, letting your partner know the ways in which you feel loved is important. It’s also salient to understand the way in which they express their love. One way is not better than the other. It just has to do with personal preference and feelings of familiarity.

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Talking about your expectations eliminates the guess work of how to communicate your love to each other. It allows you both to tune into the same channel; you’ll get along and feel as though you’re getting your love needs met. People are different, and so respond differently to displays of affection, however they may manifest.

An important question to ask yourself is, “How do I feel most loved?” And, “How does my partner?” Both have to be addressed and implemented in your relationship if you want it to thrive.

How to Show Love

According to Dr. Gary Chapman[2], author of The Five Love Languages, he states that there are five basic ways to communicate your love to your partner. Let me break those down for you. This will give you a glimpse into the many ways you can show your partner you love them, in the way they need that to be shown, and vice versa.

1. Words of Affirmation

This love speak has to do with the spoken or written word. If you’re with someone whose primary language is affirming words of love, you might want to say (often), “I love you! You’re the best thing since sliced bread!” Or leave random notes throughout the house proclaiming your undying love. Loving, sweet texts will work, too.

If you’re with a partner who needs words of affirmation to feel loved, then make sure to tell them in words, and/or in writing, how you feel. You will have one happy camper on your hands. Working eight hours a day to provide for her/him, or bringing home a bouquet of flowers won’t necessarily do the trick. Unless, of course, when you hand over the dozen tulips you look into his/her eyes and say, “I love you more than life! You are my soul mate, my one and all. These flowers pale in comparison to your divine beauty!” Now you’re talking.

More than the actual saying of the words, it’s the meaning behind the words that matter most. If your partner speaks this language, they need to know you appreciate them with open and honest communication. Make sure you praise, encourage, tell, write—whatever you can—to express your love. That will have a beautiful impact on your relationship. Remember, however, that negative words[3] can have a very strong impact in the other direction, so be very mindful of what you say and how you say it.

2. Acts of Service

The sweetest words I can hear are, “I’ll take care of that for you!” Those words make me feel more loved than any other, especially when it relieves me of having to do a stressful task. This is definitely my primary love language. I have major issues with laziness, or someone who doesn’t follow through with their commitments.

If your partner is like me, then you’re going to want to discover where their needs lie. Try to pay attention to the small things in your relationship, and remember them! Bring these up at the correct time to surprise them and make them feel special. They’ll appreciate that you took the time to notice what kind of restaurant they like or what movie they like to watch on the weekends[4].

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If that’s not enough, look around…does something around the house need fixing? Can you help out by making the bed or doing the dishes? Maybe filling up a flat tire on their bike? If your partner’s primary love language is acts of service—anything that can take the load off—then find a way to do just that. Your honey will be extremely grateful, trust me.

3. Receiving Gifts

Every time my son would FaceTime with his girlfriend, he noticed her struggle to unravel her tangled earbuds. It would always take her several minutes to get situated. So, when he showed up at her house with a pair of wireless earbuds, she was blown away.

For a person whose primary love language is receiving gifts, it’s more than just the gift itself. My son’s girlfriend was wowed because she recognized the thought behind the gift. He was paying attention to her needs. By giving her that gift, he was speaking her language of love. She knew that it came from the heart and his desire to not see her struggle.

Without really realizing its importance, my son did a great thing for her. She felt happy, secure, and like someone was really looking out for her. More than the visual sight of the gift, her overwhelming warm and fuzzy feelings came from his motivation.

If your partner feels loved by receiving gifts, know that the gifts do not have to be expensive. Even though this is not my primary language, I appreciate useful items. For example, a friend of mine once gave me three sticks of lip balm. Wow! It’s such a small thing when you think about it, but I use those all the time, so it was the perfect gift. Little trinkets here and there serve their purpose. It lets the person know you’re thinking about them[5]

Don’t underestimate their power. As long as the gift is from the heart, it’s all good.

4. Quality Time

One-on-one time, undivided attention, and shared activities…if this sounds good to you, then this is your primary love speak. Quality time probably needs a little more attention than the other four ways to show love because it requires, well, time. And it seems like people nowadays are hard-pressed to provide it because they just don’t have it, or they claim not to.

So, if your partner feels loved by having cozy dinners, just the two of you, cuddling up and watching movies, going for bike rides, or taking long walks, then make the time. This will make your relationship prosper. Your investment of time will pay amazing dividends. Your partner will feel loved and cared for.

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Even if this is not the favored love language for either of you, it’s critical to spend the time with your mate. This will aid in creating a strong and solid relationship. And as you can see above, it doesn’t have to be 24/7.

If you fancy being out with friends, rock climbing, running marathons, or what-have-you, don’t despair. You can do both. You can have your alone time, just as long as you dedicate that much-appreciated couple’s time to your partner.

5. Physical Touch

When Dr. Chapman talks about physical touch as being a love language, he’s not necessarily referring to touching with sexual undertones. The physical touch to which he is referring is hand holding, a shoulder squeeze, a hand on the back, little touches here and there.

My husband’s primary love language is physical touch. Mine is not. But because I know that he feels loved by my physical touch, I’ll rub his back when I walk by him, or squeeze his hand as we’re driving, hug him as we pass each other in the kitchen, etc. Even the smallest acts of touch can go a long way.

Even though physical touch is not my preferred love speak, I want my husband to feel loved in the way that he needs, hence I make the effort to make those gestures. His whole demeanor changes. I can feel his happiness through my touch.

Incorporating More Than One Love Language

I want to add here that while a person has a desired love language, they can speak a little bit of the other love languages as well. For instance, your love language might be physical touch, but you still really enjoy receiving gifts, or spending quality time with your partner.

It’s important to know what language your partner speaks, yes. In this way you can show them you love them in the way that it will be the most meaningful to them. You are not sacrificing anything in the process. You will, however, make a big impact on your partner, create feelings of love, security, and happiness. In contrast…

While it’s wonderful and essential to show your partner love in the way they need, it is just as important to recognize the way in which your partner feels comfortable expressing their love to you. For instance, if their way of expressing love is by doing acts of service for you, don’t make them feel diminished, as though they don’t love you simply because they didn’t come home with a sparkling tennis bracelet.

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See the value in what they’re doing. If that’s the way of expressing their love for you, take it. Understand they don’t love you any less; they’re just showing it in a different way. Negating their methods will just make them feel bad, create an argument, or just make you look ungrateful. David Braucher, LCSW, Ph.D, writes:

“Maybe it would be hard for them, though I’m not saying they shouldn’t try. But if we are complaining about what we are not getting without appreciating what we do receive, we are rejecting a very intimate part of them. And we don’t want to reject them! We love them. We love that they love us. We just want them to express their love differently—the way we want it.”[6]

All the love languages are important. You can play around with one or all. One is not better than the other, as I’ve said. It’s important to recognize the way in which we want to be loved and express it, but it goes both ways. Just because your partner forgets your anniversary doesn’t mean s/he doesn’t love you. It could mean s/he was busy and had a lot on his/her mind.

Final Thoughts

There are many ways to express love. Understanding what your partner needs is essential, but understanding how your partner demonstrates his/her love is just as important. Don’t allow your insecurities to manipulate you. If you catch yourself saying, “If s/he loved me, s/he would have…” Not necessarily. Just because someone doesn’t express love in the same love language doesn’t mean they don’t love you. Be grateful for what they do for you and how they express it.

Love is the universal language. It can be spoken in many different ways. Allow room in your relationship to speak as many as you can. After all, love is love!

More on How to Love Someone

Featured photo credit: Giorgio Trovato via unsplash.com

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Rossana Snee

Rossana is a Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist. She aspires to motivate, to inspire, and to awaken your best self!

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Last Updated on January 5, 2022

How to Deal With Anger (The Ultimate Anger Management Guide)

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How to Deal With Anger (The Ultimate Anger Management Guide)

We all lose our temper from time to time, and expressing anger is actually a healthy thing to do in our relationships with others. Expressing our differences in opinion allows us to have healthy conflict and many times come to an agreement or understanding that works for everyone. However, there are times when anger can become overwhelming or damaging, and during these times, it’s important to learn how to deal with anger.

Expressing anger inappropriately can be harmful to relationships, both personal and professional. You may express too much anger, too often, or at times that are only going to make things worse, not better. In this article we will look at anger management techniques that will help you better control your emotions.

Let’s take a deeper look at how to deal with anger.

Expressing Anger

Anger is a natural and normal part of almost any relationship. This includes relationships with your significant other, kids, boss, friends, family, etc. Anger provides us with valuable information if we are willing to listen to it. It clues us in to areas where we disagree with others and things that need to be changed or altered.

Unhealthy Ways to Express Anger

Here are some common yet unhealthy ways to express anger that you should avoid:

Being Passive-Aggressive

This is a term many of us are familiar with. Passive-aggressive behavior happens when someone is angry but uses indirect communication to express their anger.

Some of the more common passive-aggressive behaviors include the silent treatment, making comments about someone behind their back, being grumpy, moody, or pouting, or simply not doing tasks or assignments that they should.

This is a passive-aggressive person’s way of showing their anger. It’s not very productive but extremely common.

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Poorly-Timed

Some people get overwhelmed and express anger in a situation where it can’t really do any good.

An example would be getting angry at one person in front of a crowd of people. All that does is make people uncomfortable and shuts them down. It’s not a healthy way to express anger or disagreement with someone.

Ongoing Anger

Being angry all the time is most often a symptom of something else. It’s healthy and normal to express anger when you disagree with someone. However, if someone is angry most of the time and always seems to be expressing their anger to everyone around them, this won’t serve them well.

Over time, people will start to avoid this person and have as little contact as possible. The reason being is no one likes being around someone who is angry all the time; it’s a no-win situation.

Healthy Ways to Express Anger

What about the healthy ways[1] to adapt? When learning how to deal with anger, here are some healthy ways to get you started.

Being Honest

Express your anger or disagreement honestly. Be truthful about what it is that is making you angry. Sometimes this will entail walking away and thinking about it for a bit before you respond.

Don’t say you’re mad at something someone did or said when it’s really something else that upset you.

Being Direct

Similar to being honest, being direct is a healthy way to express anger.

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Don’t talk around something that is making you angry. Don’t say that one thing is making you angry when it’s really something else, and don’t stack items on top of each other so you can unload on someone about 10 different things 6 months from now.

Be direct and upfront about what is making you angry. Ensure you are expressing your anger to the person who upset you or you are angry at, not to someone else. This is very counterproductive.

Being Timely

When something makes you angry, it’s much better to express it in a timely manner. Don’t keep it bottled up inside of you, as that’s only going to do more harm than good.

Think of the marriages that seem to go up in flames out of nowhere when the reality is someone kept quiet for years until they hit their breaking point.

Expressing anger as it occurs is a much healthier way of using anger to help us guide our relationships in the moment.

How to Deal With Anger

If you feel angry, how should you deal with it right at that moment?

1. Slow Down

From time to time, I receive an email at work that makes me so angry that steam is probably pouring out of my ears.

In my less restrained moments, I have been known to fire off a quick response, and that typically has ended about as well as you might imagine.

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When I actually walk away from my computer and go do something else for a while, I am able to calm down and think more rationally. After that happens, I am able to respond in a more appropriate and productive manner. Doing things that helps you learn how to release anger can make an uncomfortable situation more manageable before it gets out of hand.

2. Focus on the “I”

Remember that you are the one that’s upset. Don’t accuse people of making you upset because, in the end, it’s your response to what someone did that really triggered your anger. You don’t want to place blame by saying something like “Why don’t you ever put away your dishes?” Say something more like “Having dirty dishes laying on the counter upsets me—can you work with me to come to a solution?”

When you are accusatory towards someone, all that does is increase the tension. This doesn’t usually do anything except make your anger rise higher.

3. Work out

When learning how to deal with anger, exercise is a great outlet. If something happens that angers you, see if you have the opportunity to burn off some of the anger.

Being able to hit the gym to get a hard workout in is great. If this isn’t an option, see if you can go for a run or a bike ride. If you are at work when you become angry and the weather permits, at least go outside for a brisk walk.

Besides working some of your anger out through exercise, this also helps to give your mind a chance to work through some ways to address what it is that upset you.

4. Seek Help When Needed

There are times when we could all use some help. Life can be stressful and overwhelming. It’s perfectly fine to seek some help from a mental health professional if it will help you get back to a healthy balance.If you find that you are angry all the time, it might be a good idea to go talk to an expert about learning to control intense emotions. They can give you some sound advice and ideas on how to get your anger to a more manageable and healthy level.

5. Practice Relaxation

We all seem to lead incredibly busy lives, and that’s a good thing if we are loving the life we are living. That being said, it is very beneficial to our physical and mental well-being to take time out for relaxation.

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That can mean spending time doing things that help us calm down and relax, like being around people we enjoy, practicing deep breathing or listening to music. It could be making time for things that help bring us balance like a healthy diet and physical activity.

Many people incorporate techniques such as yoga and meditation to calm their minds and release tension when learning how to deal with anger. Whatever your choice is, ensure you take time out to relax when warning signs of anger start to bubble up.

6. Laugh

Incorporating humor and laughter on a regular basis will help keep anger in check and help you get over a bad mood and feelings of anger more quickly. This isn’t part of formal anger management techniques, but you’ll be surprised by how well it works. Remember, life is a journey that’s meant to be enjoyed fully along the way through healthy emotion. Make sure you take time to laugh and have fun.Surround yourself with people that like to laugh and enjoy life. Don’t work at a job that just causes you stress, which can lead to anger. Work at something you enjoy doing.

7. Be Grateful

It’s easy to focus on the bad in life and the things that cause us negative emotions. It’s vitally important to remind ourselves of all the wonderful things in life that bring us positive emotions, things that we easily forget because we get caught up in the whirlwind of day to day life.

Take time out each day to remind yourself of a few things you are grateful for in order to help you learn how to release anger and invite in more positive feelings.

Final Thoughts

Life can be overwhelming at times. We seem to have constant pressure to achieve more and to always be on the go or motivated. People we are around and situations we are in can cause stress, anger, and negative emotions. At times, it can seem to be too much, and we get angry and our emotions start to get out of control.

During these times, keep in mind that life is an incredible journey, full of wonder and things that bring you joy. When you find yourself angry more often than is healthy, take time out to remember the good things in life—the things that we seem to forget yet bring us so much positive energy and emotions.

Use some of the tips included here to help with how to deal with anger and better control your emotions.

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More Resources on Anger Management

Featured photo credit: Andre Hunter via unsplash.com

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