By Judi Light Hopson, Emma H. Hopson and Ted Hagen McClatchy-Tribune News Service.
All of us need a mate or dating partner to show us special attention. But, few of us can teach someone how to love us. Why? We don't recognize our own "love language."
Have you ever stopped to think about what makes you feel loved? Maybe you like your partner to take you out to dinner. Or, you might feel good when your spouse helps you weed your rose garden.
It pays to stop and ask: What is my love language? In order to feel special, what do I need communicated to me? What does my mate need communicated?
Most of us can feel anxious and neglected, but we haven't outlined the things that make us feel good. In fact, we expect our partners or spouses to read our minds. If they don't, we feel angry and disappointed.
For example, some women need to hear words of endearment. Others need a lover or marriage partner to help clean house. Some people feel good when someone serves them a nice meal.
"I like it when my husband goes to church with me," says a friend of ours we'll call Peggy. "I finally got up the nerve to tell my husband I feel neglected because he would not get out of bed on Sunday mornings."
Peggy hit rock bottom when a man at church asked her out on a date. He told Peggy, "I've never seen you with your husband. I just assumed you were single!"
Peggy's husband now rolls out of bed at 6:30 on Sunday mornings. He's cooking pancakes, helping the kids get dressed, and making sure he's looking super good before they leave the house.
"When I learned that people at church thought my wife was single, this hurt me deeply," says Peggy's husband, Paul. "Wow, what a wake-up call when my wife came home crying. She was crying because a man had asked her out on a date! Heck, I almost cried, too!"
What's odd is that what makes one person feel loved might not affect someone else. For example, some women love to get flowers.
Others could care less. They would prefer going to the movies or having their partners go for a walk with them.
In order to educate your mate about your love language, consider the following:
-Ask yourself what perks you up. Is it a spontaneous drive to the lake? Is it sending the kids to your parents' home and spending a Saturday afternoon watching TV with your mate?
-Go back in time. Think back over the past five or ten years. What made you feel good? Was it shopping at the mall with your husband? Was it driving to a park to drink coffee out of paper cups?
-Think about your inner harmony. Try to imagine a peaceful day with your family and your mate. What would make you feel connected, loved, and happy?
A woman we'll call Carol says her husband speaks love to her this way: "He loads the dishwasher after I've cooked breakfast on Saturday. Then, he takes a shower and puts fresh sheets on our bed. This gets my Saturday off to a good start."
Take time and money into consideration as you think this through. Come up with inexpensive ways your mate could please you that won't take long to accomplish. Lots of small things add up faster than an expensive vacation, for example. ___ (Judi Light Hopson is the Executive Director of the stress management website USA Wellness Cafe at www.usawellnesscafe.com. Emma Hopson is an author and a nurse educator. Ted Hagen is a family psychologist.)