Men and women are so different that it’s almost a miracle when they’re able to have wonderful loving relationships. Don’t get me wrong, it is possible, the key is to make an effort to understand the person with whom you’re trying to connect, which is not always an easy thing to do. Here are two concepts that, if implemented, can change not just your love life but almost all of your relationships.
This first concept requires a paradigm shift from a belief that we’ve been taught. The Golden Rule – do unto others as you would have them do unto you – while wel intended, falls short. The very nature of this philosophy is that it is intrinsically self-centered. To think that what you want or how you want to be treated is the same as what others want or how they want to be treated is absolutely absurd. If that were the case, we would all be the same and there would be no need for options, flavors, colors, etc.
The alternative is The Platinum Rule – treat others the way they want to be treated. Imagine a world where spouses treated their partners the way they want to be treated. At this point even if you agree with me, you’re wondering where to begin. Do I even know how to treat my significant other the way he or she wants to be treated? Let’s focus on how people want to be loved. First you have to figure out how you need to be loved and then how your partner wants to be loved.
For guidance I’d like to introduce another concept from a book, The 5 Love Languages, written over 20 years ago by Dr. Gary D. Chapman, a relationship counselor. Dr. Chapman believes there are five love languages and by nature we tend to speak in our own love language and want to be spoken to in that same love language. He believes that we can all learn to speak in the five languages but first we need to start by knowing what they are.
- Words of Affirmation: Words of encouragement, words of praise, kind words.
- Gifts: A gift is a tangible object that says, “I was thinking about you. I wanted you to have this. I love you.”
- Acts of Service: Have you ever heard the saying, “actions speak louder than words?”
- Quality Time: Doing things together, quality conversations.
- Physical Touch: Those who use the expression that they’re not the touchyfeely type would not use this love language.
According to Dr. Chapman, everyone has a preference of the five love languages and when someone is expressing him or herself to you in your preferred love language, you feel loved. It fills up your “love tank”. Take for example my husband. His love language is Acts of Service and mine is Words of Affirmation.
I can be a bit of a control freak. When we moved to our house, I mentioned that I wanted to paint our front door red and we even went to Lowes to pick up a pint of paint. This was on my to-do list. One day he got up early and when I came downstairs a bit dressed-up because I was heading to meet a client, he looked at me and said, “I have a surprise for you.” Then he said, “Come, I’ll show you.” The front door was painted red.
My immediate reaction in my head was to get angry – with me being the control freak and the fact that I wanted to paint my door. Also, as I inspected the paint job there were a few spots in the wrong places. It took me a minute to compose myself and to hold back from being critical and looking disappointed because I knew that this was my husband’s way of showing love, an Act of Service. The truth is, if he had just looked at me and said, “Honey you look beautiful” my Love Tank would have been replenished.
We’ve since read this book together and we’re both clear about our love languages and we have both come to the conclusion that we each have two dominant love languages, and consciously practice the art of filling up each other’s Love Tanks according to our respective preferred language.
The key is, if you and your partner are mindful of your love language and you follow The Platinum Rule – treat others the way they want to be treated – then you’ll both have your Love Tank full. This is in part the formula for a great, loving and long-term relationship.