Our family is approaching on a year with our new little addition, and it's been a roller coaster of emotions and challenges. And while steering through the ups and downs of new parenthood, it's easy to neglect (or feel neglected by) your partner.
So this week I wanted to leave the kids behind and talk about you and your partner – specifically an easy way to check in with each other and realign your communication.
The Love Languages
One of best relationship tools that my partner and I have used for years is Gary Chapman's Love Languages. Though not a new concept, first published in 1992, this relatively simple psychological theory has proven successful for many couples over the decades. The concept centres around a person's preferred communication and how it manifests in a relationship. Chapman categorized how different personalities like to give and receive love. His five categories are as follows:
Acts of Service
For people whose preferred love language is Acts of Service, it's actions that matter. They feel loved when their partner opts to do things for them like wash the dishes, change a diaper, or offer to go and grab take out for dinner.
If your love language is Receiving Gifts, then you feel loved when your partner gives you a heartfelt gift. It doesn't have to be extravagant; it could be something as small as bringing home a KitKat for you after a run to the store to grab milk because they felt "you needed a break."
Words of Affirmation
Those with a preference for Words of Affirmation really appreciate hearing kind words from their partner. It could be saying to your partner that, "they're a really great dad," or thanking them after they help with a nighttime feeding.
If you're someone who really values one on one time with your partner, your preference may be Quality Time. For these people, putting your phone away and doing something together is what means the most (and yes, that could be just vegging out and watching TV together when baby is napping).
For people that have this preference, being physically near their partner is how they feel loved. If this is your partner, it doesn't mean you have to jump to a "roll in the hay," ('cause let's be honest here, "rolls" seem a little fewer and farther between these days). Instead, it could be as simple as holding their hand, giving them a hug, or cuddling up on the couch.
Why Should I Care?
One of the reasons I like using this tool is because it makes communication clearer in your relationship. If your partner's preference is Quality Time, but you've been giving them Acts of Service, they may not be feeling as loved despite your efforts. When you're aware of each other's love languages, it's easier to feel more in sync by showing love the way your partner needs you to.
How Do I Find Out My Love Language?
To find out your love language take this short quiz on The Love Languages website: www.5lovelanguages.com/quizzes/love-language. When you and your partner finish your quiz, make sure you take the time to talk about your results and how that could manifest in your relationship. Try and make it a goal to purposely give love in your partner's preferred way three times this week.
As a last note, acclaimed relationship researcher John Gottman found that one of the prominent reasons couples break-up within the first seven years of their marriage is the stress of becoming parents. His study from 2000 found that 67% of couples were reporting a decline in relationship satisfaction after having a baby. Yes, life is crazier these days, but does that mean our relationships are destined to be as well? We spend so much time, money, and energy giving our baby the best, why not give baby the best relationship role models by investing in your partnership?
A.M. Cullen lives and writes in Fort St. John. Are you parenting in the Peace? Send in your questions, topics, or suggestions for #MomLife to cover at email@example.com.