I wrote about the first love language quite some time ago. I didn’t give up on the rest, I just parked it for a bit. I like lessons to sink in before I move to the next lesson, and I decided that reading a different book between each language gives me sufficient time to work on each language in my life. After reading the next language, I realised that I’m more ready than I would have ever believed for the next language.
The book 5 Love Languages is about how different people talk different dialects of love, and if we understand our partners’ dialect we can talk the same language, and build a stronger relationship. I’m going to do the second language a bit different from the first one. I’m going to write it the same as my normal blogs – explaining some of what I read and adding how I found insights while I was reading.
I definitely think quality time is my language. There are a couple of things in this language that sit very close to my heart. First up is what the book labels as focused attention. My biggest peeve when I talk to Leon is when he does other stuff while talking to him. Like going to fetch something, looking around at other people or things, anything that could distract him. Our biggest “focused attention thief” in the 21st century – mobile devices. How often do we quickly check a message we received or even spend the whole dinner date on our phones? Are we really present if our attention is not with the people we are in the room with? I like people to look me in the eyes and not distract themselves when I am talking to them. Do I always give my focused attention to people? No I don’t, and I will get better at that.
Next up is quality conversations. Often when we go out to dinner I ask Leon to talk to me more and complain that we’re not talking. There are two things at play. He is a thinker and lives very much inside his head – so he does sometimes think he is having a conversation, but actually it’s the voices in his head having a conversation. The other thing is that a conversation to me is about how each other is feeling, how we experience an event, what we think about it, what we learned from it, what we’ll do differently next time. Talking about the weather and what happened to us today is not good conversation in my eyes. To have this type of conversation takes effort from both sides. I don’t have anyone to blame, but the fact is that these deep meaningful conversations happen a lot less frequently than I would like them to happen. So when we don’t have them, even though we may be talking, I still don’t feel like we’re TALKING. I am not the best conversationalist in the world, I often look at people who seem to think of conversation starters at the drop of the hat, and wonder how they do that. Again work for me to do to get more of what I would like to have.
Another big one is our ability to talk. We’ve become a nation out of touch with our emotions. We’re taught as children not to show our feelings in public, not to embarrass our parents. We are taught in the business world that showing emotions makes you vulnerable and you won’t be successful if you are vulnerable. We build up so many walls around our emotions that one day we wake up and don’t even know how to find what we’re passionate about, because we don’t know how it feels. What if we practiced feeling again, talking about our feelings again? We have started doing this more in our house and I am amazed that we even vaguely understood each other before. Knowing how I feel about a situation, and learning how Leon feels completely differently about the same situation gives me so much more clarity on why we feel like ships passing each other in the mist some days. Now that we’re at least aware of each other’s emotions and why we respond differently to events, we can get on board each other’s ships and work something out that works better for both of us.
The book gives a couple of pointers on how to give more to partners who talk the language of quality time. Here are the things I commit to:
- Undivided attention – I will become better at giving it, and asking for it. Doing stuff while listening dilutes our attention to a person, whether it be clearing the table, getting dressed, cooking, or anything else – during all these activities we are focusing on the activity and listening – we are diluting the attention we are giving. I also commit to forgetting about mobile devices while we are communicating.
- Listening – I will really listen. We tend to start thinking of answers or responses or making up the person’s mind for them while they are talking. The moment we start thinking we stop listening. I wrote up an affirmation – “Today I will truly listen, listen to the words, listen for feelings, listen at body language, listen to really see it from the other person’s eyes, listen without thinking for a response, just listen”
- I will ask more questions – we often make certain assumptions based on our view of the world. Leon and I had a conversation about “tough love” recently. I am for it, he is against it. When I asked him what he understood tough love to be, I realised we are actually for the same thing. I understand tough love as sometimes telling someone to suck it up and face the music, knowing it may be painful but they’ll gain a valuable lesson from the experience. Leon understands tough love as physical punishment, i.e. giving a child a hiding. We both don’t agree to physical punishment, and we both agree to what I define as tough love. If I never asked, we would’ve always thought we had different opinions on the same topic.
- Talk about emotions – the book gives an awesome exercise. Every day take some time during the day and write down an event and how it made you feel. Like: Delivery van driving up too close to me – angry; Husband sent me flowers – happy; Saw a child begging for clothes – frustrated. A second exercise it gives is talking with your spouse about three events during the day and how it made you feel. I am going to ask my family if we can combine the two exercises and make it one for us to do every evening over dinner
My biggest realisation from this love language was that there are lots of small things that I am not happy with. But if I truly think about it, I am also the first person who started many of these things, and I have to take my share of ownership in creating the lack of quality time I see. It also means I can take ownership in creating more quality time.