Many years ago, I traveled to Paris. One day, I peeled off from the group, wanting to explore the city by myself. It was a glorious! I felt like a saucy Katherine Hepburn-like character from one of those old MGM movies. The delicate breeze on the Seine almost sang La Vie En Rose; the Eiffel Tower twinkled brightly, even in the afternoon. And those yummy, sweet and buttery crêpes were everywhere. I was in heaven.
The day wound to a close, and I needed to get back to the hotel. I was eager to rejoin my group for dinner. My tired feet needed a rest and I missed seeing familiar faces. But where was I? Where was the hotel? This was pre-GPS. I couldn’t figure out the map. It was in French.
The City of Lights suddenly felt less welcoming. I was lost. I tried to get help, but no one wanted to talk to me. My confidence was nowhere to be found. I just wanted to go back to the hotel. And comfortable safety.
Then, a young woman approached me and said, “Can I help you?” My eyes brightened. I was so relieved. She spoke my language. That sweet young woman was an answer to my prayer. She gently led me back to my hotel and to a calming, chatty dinner with friends.
When someone speaks our language, we feel understood and taken care of. An immediate sense of relief and comfort arrives when one person gets another.
In The Five Languages of Love, one of the most successful relationship books of all time, Gary Chapman explores a simple, elegant idea. Part of a successful relationship is finding out how your partner wants to be loved or learning his or her love language.
Spouses build the couple’s sense of safety by loving each other in the precise way each wants to be loved. One feels cherished when the other spontaneously offers some physical touch, like a little massage. The other lights up when her partner says, “I love you,” or offers other words of affirmation. Some people respond to gifts. Many just want quality time together.
I, myself, am a gifts of service kind of gal. I remember when I was dating Alan, now my husband. He came over to pick me up for a Saturday matinee and noticed the sink was dripping. In no time we were driving to Home Depot to pick up supplies. He fixed the sink and then we went to the movie.
Now, don’t try this with everyone! But for me, he was never sweeter or sexier than when he was lying on the floor deconstructing that plumbing problem. These things are particularly vexing for me. His gesture tuned into my need. He made me feel cherished.
Alan became my knight in shining armor that day. Kind of like that sweet young woman in Paris who helped me at just the right time. Make your love strong and vibrant by learning your partner’s love language. It will take some investigation. It may be different than your love language. That’s okay, it makes it more fun. Go for it. Start sleuthing. Find out how your partner feels loved. It’ll make your life easier. And sweeter.