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Love is a Verb


“Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.”-Leo Buscaglia

A beautiful quote that could be modified to say, “…all of which have the potential to turn an intimate relationship around.”

To love is “to do,” it is not something that just “is.” As the years pass and life becomes more stressful and chaotic, many couples forget “to love” their partner. Many articles geared towards couples focus on communication skills and conflict resolution. While these are certainly important, I find many couples who present for therapy often lack the loving behaviors so critical to the success of their intimate relationship. What are they? Well, this can depend on your partner’s love language. In Dr. Gary Chapman’s best selling book, The 5 Love Languages, he describes that a love language is how one prefers to give and receive love. Do you know what love languages you and your partner align with? If you are unsure, you can find the 5 love languages quiz online.

1.) Words of Affirmation- Unsolicited compliments and appreciation mean the world to you. When your partner can explain the REASONS why, your heart beats even faster.

2.) Quality Time- Nothing says, “I Love You,” like someone’s full attention! If someone’s phone or laptop is put away and they actively engage with you, you feel special.

3.) Receiving Gifts- Thoughtfulness and effort behind a gift sends your heart soaring. It can be as simple as your partner picking up your favorite snack on the way home from work…because you’ve been craving it lately.

4.) Acts of Service- Anything that takes some responsibility off of your shoulders makes you fond of your partner. Coming home to the dishes done or the driveway shoveled? Swoon.

5.) Physical Touch- Hugs, thoughtful touches, and/or handholding are a priority for you. Oh, how you love when your partner comes up behind you and gently embraces you for no reason.

Any or a few of these sound familiar? Don’t be surprised if you and your partner are very different! Once you are familiar with your partner’s preferred method of receiving love, you have a clear map of what is required to fill their “love bank.” A love bank is similar to an actual bank account: if your account has $100 and you withdraw $10, you may not panic. However, if you have $10 and you withdraw $10 you are likely in panic mode. The same goes for someone’s love bank. The fuller this bank is, the better one can cope with some withdrawals: conflicts or bad moods are examples. The more empty the love bank is, the more difficult it becomes to tolerate these negative moments every couple encounters.

So, while many view Valentine’s Day as a Hallmark holiday, it is actually an opportunity “to love” your spouse. I hope this and every Valentine’s Day serves as a reminder to focus on the person who deserves your love…most days of the year.

Happy Valentines Day!

Birmingham Maple Clinic | Michigan Mental Health