The ultimate love guide to learn the most important relationship concepts

The five relationship stages

Communication differences between men & women

Why understanding male / female communication differences matters

Have you ever had the problem that your partner has done something that irritated, frustrated or disappointed you a lot and they didn’t understand what they’ve done wrong? In those moments you probably think they were in the wrong but the truth is they weren’t. They simply had different ideas, likely the complete opposite, of what you believe, of how you think, of what you want. 

Relationships start to become conflict-driven when we don’t understand what our partner needs and what they want to tell us, or maybe don’t know how to tell us in a way that we can understand. Fighting, arguing, blaming and so on is always a result of not feeling loved and we don’t feel loved whenever we don’t feel properly understood.

By learning to better understand what our partner wants and how they do and don’t communicate these things, we are able to love and support each other better. The truth is men expect women to think and react like women and women expect men to feel and behave like women, as a result, we often confuse the well-meaning intentions of our partner and conflicts arise. When we don’t take the time to understand how our partner thinks, we usually become judgmental, intolerant, demanding and unloving. The great news is that this is the norm for almost all couples, so your relationship isn’t broken. It also means that learning about these differences gives you an edge to transform your relationship into one that’s truly loving and understanding.

In the following sections we’ll look at some of the biggest differences between men & women and what we can learn from them.

Men don’t listen to her & women try to change him

One of the biggest complaints women have about men is that they don’t listen, they either only listen for a short while, or don’t seem to understand what the woman is saying or they simply don’t listen at all. One of the biggest complaints men have about women is that they are trying to change him into someone he doesn’t want to be.

What’s really going on isn’t that men aren’t listening enough, rather they simply aren’t listening with the right approach and without enough empathy, as a result she feels neglected and unloved. On the other side, women fail to understand that trying to change a man neglects his craving for her acceptance and as a result feels controlled and unloved.

Men don’t listen because they want to solve your problems by offering solutions

To better understand dissatisfaction around a man who doesn’t listen, we have to understand how men approach problems. Men define their value with power, competency, efficiency and achievements. For them their sense of self-worth is defined by whether they achieve their goals. They feel fulfilled when they experience success & accomplishments. Because success is so important to us, autonomy in achieving our goals by ourselves is a sign that we have the power & competence to achieve them. Since men want to achieve their goals by themselves, they naturally resist being corrected or receiving unsolicited advice. To give advice is to presume that he doesn’t have what it takes to achieve, which to him is the ultimate insult.

Men rarely talk about their own problems with other men unless they truly need expert advice. They will first try to achieve their goal by themselves at all cost because asking for help is seen as a sign of weakness. However, when a man truly needs help he will reach out for special advice and it is seen as wisdom. Men who are sought out for help will proudly listen for a bit and give their own solution for his problem. Offering a solution makes a man feel good about himself because he can show that he is knowledgeable and competent in his solutions. 

This is the root cause why men immediately offer solutions to a woman who in reality only wants to talk about her problems without receiving advice on how to fix her problem. She feels unheard and rejects his solution or doesn’t give much attention to it, which to him is a sign that he is not being trusted, he feels useless and under-appreciated as she neglects his insights on how to solve her problem. He believes that he hasn’t done anything to support her and as a result feels resentful.

Women want to change him because relating to another and offering help is a sign of love

What he fails to understand is that a woman is greatly helped simply by the fact that he is listening to her. When women talk about their problems, they don’t need solutions. Eventually, she will come up with her own solution. What they need is the stimulation of someone to share their feelings with to feel better about themselves. A woman’s sense of self is defined by her feelings and the quality of her relationships & how she communicates with others. She feels fulfilled through sharing & relating to others, this is why women talk so much more with women than men do with their male friends.

To them talking & relating is much more important than achieving goals. it gives them tremendous fulfillment when they feel heard by another person. Women aren’t goal-oriented, they are relationship-oriented. As a result, she feels the same satisfaction from talking and being listened to as a man feels when he achieves a goal or solves a problem.

Women are very intuitive and pride themselves on being loving, caring and nurturing. Unlike with men, for them offering help & assistance is a sign of great love, so they offer their help & support even without being asked. Since asking for help isn’t considered a weakness, they gladly extend their loving support. What she fails to realize is that a man may believe that he isn’t being trusted to get things done by himself. He feels incompetent and may even find offense in her loving support. All she wants to do is offer her loving support but he thinks that she is trying to fix or change him.

When a woman offers her help, she’s saying “I love and care about you” while he’s hearing “I don’t trust you to get this done”. Women need to learn that it’s sometimes better to refrain from giving advice, instead what a man needs to hear from her is that she appreciates what he is trying to do for her. Her trust in him will be greatly appreciated. It’s especially important to not always give advice on the little things because he may think that “if she doesn’t trust me to take care of the little things, how can she trust me to do the really important things?”. Men pride themselves in fixing things, getting things done and coming up with solutions. When he wants to prove his competency to her, her support and appreciation is invaluable for him to see that she loves and trusts him.

Women talk about problems to get close, not to get solutions

When a woman is having problems she doesn’t need a solution from her partner. By itself, the act of talking about her problems and being heard helps her process her frustrations. She may not come up with solutions right away, sometimes she may even need weeks to come to a resolution but eventually, she will figure something out.

When she is upset and wants to share how she feels, the man feels the need to interrupt the flow of thoughts and propose a solution on how she can address her problem. He believes she is sharing her feelings because she expects him to fix her problem so he puts on his Mr. Fix-It hat and tries to solve her problem. Presenting a solution when she is sharing her feelings is not the right time to offer your help, instead, it’s important to recognize that she feels great relief simply by sharing how she feels. Over-analyzing her problem and trying to fix it feels like you are not listening and can often even lead to resentment because she feels the man is trying to invalidate her feelings.

In those moments, a man needs to practice listening with the sole purpose of understanding what she is going through. A man’s solutions often make things worse because women generally don’t offer solutions when they want to be heard. In the same light, a women should practice restrainings from giving advice immediately when he does something wrong. With both situations, timing matters. It’s OK to offer solutions after asking if she wants your advice, or offering solutions days or weeks after you’ve listened. It’s also OK wanting to help a man grow and improve himself but doing it right when he screwed up is not the right time to do so.

How men & women handle stress

Men withdraw into their man-cave to think about their problems

Another big difference between men & women is how they deal with stress. Men become increasingly focused and withdrawn whereas women become increasingly overwhelmed and emotionally involved.

In order to manage their stress, men like to go into their man-cave by focusing on something else to deal with his problems, whereas a woman may want to talk about them. They both have completely different needs how to reduce their stress and because of this tension rises and eventually turns into resentment.

Women want to talk about their problems under stress

Another big difference between men & women is how they deal with stress. Men become increasingly focused and withdrawn whereas women become increasingly overwhelmed and emotionally involved.

In order to manage their stress, men like to go into their man-cave by focusing on something else to deal with his problems, whereas a woman may want to talk about them. They both have completely different needs how to reduce their stress and because of this tension rises and eventually turns into resentment.

Women want to talk about their problems under stress

Since women talk about their problems to resolve them, the man may think that she talks too much and she may feel ignored. When he’s upset he becomes quiet and tends to go into his private cave to think about a solution of whatever is bothering him. Instead of talking with someone, he literally talks to himself to figure out a solution. Once he’s come up with a solution he’s ready to come out of his cave. If he’s not able to come up with a solution right away he usually tries to distract himself with a hobby, playing games, doing sports, reading news and so on.

Women deeply struggle with this behavior because sharing their feelings is a sign of love & trust. When a man’s stressed he’ll withdraw because he is not able to give his partner the attention and communication she needs. Women struggle because they don’t understand how much he is stressed and their withdrawal into the cave increases the distance between the two of them. She begins to resent him not being more open and feels hurt when he distracts himself and ignores her.

Men are generally unaware of how distant they become in these moments. In those moments it is important to be compassionate and understanding when she feels neglected. If a woman knows he’s just dealing with his stress she can feel more at ease. Women need their feelings validated during this time and it’s important to let them know that you are going through a difficult time but will be back to talk to her. While he has the right to withdraw into his cave, he needs to understand that she has a right to talk about her feelings. The best thing to do in these moments is to offer to talk at a better time when you are fully able to give her your undivided attention.

Men assume they are blamed for her problems and focus too much on finding the root-cause and solution for her problem

Men often mistakenly assume that they are being blamed for the problems a woman is sharing with them. Since they don’t realize that she just needs to talk about her problems to feel better, he resists her problems and the more problems she mentions, the more he’ll resist in helping her and assumes that she thinks he’s at fault for her problems. He simply needs to know that it’ll help her tremendously release her stress if she can talk about her problems with him. 

Another issue is that he easily becomes irritated when she shares her problems and keeps on talking on and on about her issues in great detail. Since men want to find solutions for problems, they believe that the fact that she is sharing all of those details means that somewhere in her long story is the detail they can pick up on that they can use to solve her problem. The more details he gets, the more frustrated he becomes. 

A woman can help a man listen more attentively by letting him know the outcome of a story before going into detail of what happened. She can also let him know that she doesn’t need expects him to help him solve her problem and that she simply appreciates it if he takes the time to listen to her. It’s great to let a man know that you feel better after you’ve talked to him about your problem, especially if he hasn’t proposed a solution. He may feel inadequate if he didn’t think of a solution, so letting him know that he’s already helped by listening gives him relief that he’s done a good job at being a loving and competent partner.

Men & women have different motivations in a relationship

Men need to feel needed

Another big difference between men and women is what drives us and makes us feel fulfilled in a relationship. Men are motivated and empowered when they feel needed, whereas women are motivated and empowered when they feel cherished.

When a man doesn’t feel needed he will eventually become passive and less energized to give to his partner. He feels empowered to give when he feels appreciated for his efforts and when she trusts him to do his best to fulfill her needs.

On the flip side, women start to feel exhausted from giving too much when they don’t feel cherished. She has more to give when she feels special, cared for & respected.  Men have great capacities to give their loving and caring for a woman when he’s truly in love. Fulfilling his partner becomes as much fulfillment as it is for her and overcoming challenges for each other becomes easier since he feels fulfilled making her happy. When he fulfills her needs and makes her happy, he knows that he is needed by her and feels safe & appreciated.

Most men have a lot of love to give but they’re very often clueless about how to give love. This is especially true for men who come from families where expressing your love for your partner wasn’t normal. Many men grew up with a father who didn’t show his wife how much he loved her, so it doesn’t come naturally for him to show his love to his partner. When he fails to give love to his partner in appropriate ways he begins to feel depressed and retreats into his man-cave to think of a solution unable to figure out that he feels depressed because he doesn’t feel that his partner needs him. Because he doesn’t know how to give, he doesn’t get the appreciation he desires and thus doesn’t feel needed, it is a vicious cycle.

Women need to feel cherished

Just as a man needs to feel needed and women often don’t realize how their disapproval makes a man feel like he’s not needed, many men don’t realize how important it is for her to be with someone who cares. Women feel fulfilled knowing that their needs will be met by their partner. When she’s upset, she needs to feel that she is not alone through his love and cherishing. Empathy, understanding, validation, and compassion can go a long to be more appreciative of their partners. 

Men tend to be alone in their man-cave when they’re upset and leave her alone, when in reality what she needs the most is to be with someone who is there for her and listens to her, someone who cares. A woman needs to know that she’s worthy of being loved and that she doesn’t need to earn her partner’s love & affection. When she knows that she will receive love without any conditions, she can relax and focus on receiving more from her partner.

Too many women focus on giving to their partner and blame them when they feel that they aren’t receiving enough in return. Even if a woman may not get what she desires, she needs to realize that she partially contributed to the problem by continuing to give when he wasn’t giving enough. Instead of blaming your partner, try to be understanding, trusting, compassionate & accepting. When a woman becomes resentful because she feels she’s not receiving enough love, the man has to offer his love & support even if she didn’t directly ask for it. When she doesn’t feel cherished it is important to open her up again with little things and don’t give too much importance to her blaming attitude.

A man shouldn’t get upset about her blaming him and at the same time, a woman shouldn’t blame a man for giving less. He is imperfect just like she is, she has to trust him that he wants to give more but doesn’t know how or doesn’t know how important it is to her. One of the easiest ways to encourage a man to give more is to appreciate him for the things that he actually does. Too many women focus on what he doesn’t do instead of focusing on what he does for her.

Instead of trying to give more and more in the hopes that he will reciprocate, she needs to turn it down a notch so he realizes that her affection is fading. Continuing to give in the hopes that he will simply even the score later will only lead to further resentment.

Setting limits in receiving are very scary for a woman, after all, it’s in their nature to connect with others and receive. Women are afraid of needing too much and that they’re not loved, especially when they were abused as a child, which might make her feel even more vulnerable to feeling unworthy of love. Hidden in her subconscious lies a belief that she isn’t worth loving. This belief generates the fear of needing others and can lead her to push away the support she needs because she’s afraid of not being supported.

Women push men away when they’re not receiving enough, men are afraid to give when they don’t live up to her expectations

When she pushes him away because she doesn’t trust that he is going to support her, the man doesn’t feel that she needs him and feels rejected and turned off. Her hopelessness and mistrust can easily transform her valid needs into a desperate expression of neediness. Ironically men are driven by being needed but this kind of neediness signals to them that they aren’t trustworthy enough to fulfill her needs. As a result, he feels turned off and disappointed and a woman mistakenly assumes her needs are what turned him off when in reality her neediness that came from giving too much is what caused the men to withdraw further from her.

When a woman needs her man, she reaches out to him for support in a trusting manner which assumes he will do his best to support her. Knowing that she trusts him to be there for him empowers him. Neediness, however, speaks that she is desperately seeking his support because she doesn’t trust she is going to receive it from him. She feels disappointed and abandoned, which is especially painful and puts her in a vulnerable position. Being further ignored or disappointed then hurts even further because it affirms her incorrect belief that she is unworthy of his love.

Ironically, many women who realize that they deserve more love from their partner after an extended period of time shut the door completely without giving him the chance to give more to her. She needs to realize that she doesn’t need to give more to receive more, instead, by giving less her man will realize that he isn’t living up to his full potential of what he has to give.

When a woman desperately gives and seeks his affection, she unknowingly triggers his deepest fear of not being good enough. Men pride themselves on being smart, strong and competent, so they often compensate their fear of not being good enough by increasing their power, competence, success, and achievements in life.

She’s afraid she won’t receive because she’s not worthy of love, he’s afraid that when he gives she will not approve of what he has to offer. Giving to his partner means potential failure, correction or disapproval. Men’s belief that they were expected to do better stems from their childhood, whenever they give to their partner the fear of not being good enough taps them back into the possible pain they felt when they were children. 

Ironically, the more he cares for his partner, the more he’s afraid of not being good enough to give her what she needs and as a result, a man often gives less because he feels paralyzed by his fear. When he appears most uncaring it is because he’s most afraid. When relationships begin to crumble, his hidden fear arises that he’s not good enough for her. A woman can let a man know that it is OK to fail and that he doesn’t need to have all the answers, he simply needs to be there for her to listen to her and care for her.

Apology & forgiveness in relationships

The five love languages

Why do relationships go nuclear?

Man, it is hot in here! It feels like a nuclear bomb just went off! Most people have been in at least one relationship where everything started off perfectly, we were deeply in love yet over-time we’ve started to become distant, non-appreciative or even hostile towards our partners. Why do relationships or even marriages fail shortly after we became a couple or just months after the wedding? And why do other’s relationships last forever? Is there something wrong with us? To understand this phenomenon, we need to learn why we get into relationships.

We’ve all inherited a deep need to feel loved by another person as being loved shows us that we’re worth loving, it makes us feel valuable and desirable. People who misbehaved as kids often didn’t receive enough love from their parents and their parents didn’t show them how to be affectionate with one another. As a result those kids acted out in order to seek the attention and love they so desperately desired. 

Dr. Gary Chapman illustrates this as an empty love tank that needs to be filled with love. When we we don’t feel loved the tank slowly dries out, our emotional energy is at a minimum and we feel rejected and unloved by the ones we love the most.

Our goal in a relationship is to keep the love tank of our partner as full as possible to make them feel cherished, loved and respected. To fill our partner’s tank with love we need to understand what fills a tank with love

Understanding that we all fall out of love eventually

We become infatuated with our partners when we’re in a new relationship and we literally put our pink-colored glasses on. We feel that we would do everything for them and move mountains to make them happy. Our emotional high makes us forget the negative aspects of our loved ones and our primary desire is to make them happy since they are making us happy. 

It is easy to fulfill our lover’s request while we’re in love because anything they ask us to do doesn’t feel like work, instead we feel rewarded to make them happy. Unfortunately for all of us, studies have revealed that this in-love-experience only lasts for 6-18 months, perhaps slightly longer during an affair. Once the infatuation subsides, filling our partner’s love tank becomes a lot harder. We revert back to our inherently egocentric nature that brings us back on our feet and tells us “I want to be appreciated”. But if our partner hasn’t changed their behavior even if we’re no longer in love, why is it that our love tank stops to be filled?

Learning to speak to your partner’s inner desires

When we fall out of love and start to feel unappreciated by our partner it isn’t because they’ve changed a lot about how they treated us. Chances are they still treat you almost the same way, however, they no longer go out of their way to do everything for you, instead they begin to speak to you in one primary way that they feel is appropriate to show their love to someone, this is what’s known as the five love languages.

Since every person has a different understanding of what it means to be loved it’s crucial to learn how to speak your partner’s love language. Once you discover your partner’s as well as your own love language, making a conscious choice to love each other becomes easy and truly fulfilling. The five love languages are words of affirmation, acts of service, quality time, gift-giving and physical touch.

Encouraging with words of affirmation

Affirming words
Words of affirmation are words that build each other up and encourage our partner to be their best self. Verbal compliments or words of affirmation are best expressed in simple statements of affirmation such as “you look great in that dress”, “thank you for taking care of the kids today, you’re such a great mother” or “thank you for always listening to me, I don’t take that for granted”.

When we use affirming words to a person whose language is words of affirmation, we show them that we care. Hearing how we value and love them makes them feel appreciated and gives them the courage to continue to be the best they can be.

Encouraging words
Other ways of affirming your love are using words that encourage your partner to pursue something they are afraid of, such as saying “You are a great accountant and I’m sure you’ll do a wonderful job at your new management position”. Encouragement requires empathy and seeing your partner’s world from their point of view, so you could not only encourage them but give them specific reasons why you believe in them. 

You can say things such as “Whenever I see you working on your financial projections you are completely in the zone, there’s no way you won’t be a great, detail-oriented manager.” Encouraging words tell your partner “I care. How can I help you?”. By giving credit and praising you re-affirm that your partner is worthy of appreciation.

Kind words
Whether you use affirming or encouraging words, being aware of how we communicate is important. Words of affirmation need to be spoken in a kind and loving tone. Sarcasm should never be used when you want to express your love with kind words.

Both your tone of voice as well as your body language express sincerity. Words can say one thing but mean the other when our body language and tonality aren’t open and loving. 

Humble words
Neither you nor your partner is perfect. There will be times when you wish your partner would show their affection in a certain way, such as giving you a massage or cooking your favorite dish which she hasn’t cooked in a long time. Do not use demanding words when you want your partner to do something special for you. Love always makes requests. 

Lovers who make demands turn into parents scolding their child. Loving someone is a choice, requests give our partner a choice to express their love. Giving your partner the freedom to love you in a way that feels appropriate to them increases intimacy. When you request something from your partner you guide them on how to love you instead of demanding to love you. Always remember that you must love in such a way that your partner feels free.

Indirect words of affirmation
You don’t always need to directly express your words of affirmation to your partner. Sometimes it has a far greater impact to tell others what a great woman she is. When you are with friends or her parents, expressing your love and appreciation won’t go unnoticed and people will often tell your partner that you’ve had nothing but good words about them. Hearing about the great credit you’ve given is especially meaningful from parents, it re-affirms that we are with the right partner and receive validation from our parents that we are in a relationship with a loving person.

Mistakenly seeking conflict or withdrawing from conflict
Even the best relationships will have disagreements or major fights. Many couples make the mistake to fight more and more as their love tanks begin to empty. This is a vicious cycle which naturally will only make things worse. When you feel that both you and your partner are unnecessarily fighting it is a good decision to take a step back and re-focus on why you fell in love with your partner in the first place. 

Take the time to consciously avoid expressing feelings of anger or disappointment, instead focus on the things that you do like about your partner and tell her what you appreciate about her. This will bring back the loving tone and will re-affirm your partner that you love them. Check out my quick tip on keeping a love-journal for your partner. 

Fighting and withdrawal are just a sign of emotional withdrawal to protect ourselves from further pain. In the same way, many couples withdraw from each other further as their arguments intensify to avoid getting hurt even more. Withdrawing from our partners increases the emotional gap that we seek to avoid. The best thing to do is to focus on the positive sides of your partner instead of avoiding the negative aspects.

Increasing the emotional bond with quality time

Partners who complain about you not spending enough time with them want to see that you love them by spending quality time with them. The story of Mike illustrates his problem very well. Mike was over-working 24/7 on his business in the hopes of providing for his girlfriend whom he wanted to marry. Mike believed that working hard would help him achieve his goal of having a happy family but his girlfriend Rica began to withdraw due to Mike’s absence in the house.

Rica and thousands of other men & women ask themselves “what’s the point of all possessions if you never spend time with your partner?” What she craved more than anything was her partner’s time and his undivided attention.

Many couples spend a lot of time together to go out, watch TV or cook together yet spend their time being too inattentive to their partner. When you’re watching TV, your attention is on the show you’re watching, not on your lover. Being in close proximity doesn’t mean that you spend quality time, quality time means that you give your partner 20 minutes of your life undividedly. Your partner needs to see that you want to take part in their life.

Spending time together is extremely important but it’s even more important to let your partner know that she is number one. When you’re doing activities with your partner be sure to focus on her, not the activity itself. Many old couples are roommates instead of lovers because they treat the time they’ve spent together to be close in close proximity instead of being close to each other. What activities you choose to spend with your partner don’t matter as much as what you do while you’re spending time together.

Quality conversation
Partners who value quality time want to be heard and understood by their partner more than anything. For them, nothing speaks love louder than sharing their thoughts and feelings in an uninterrupted context. When partners are unhappy about the fact that “you never talk”, they aren’t saying that you don’t talk at all, what they are saying is that they are craving for sympathetic talk in which we make an effort and take time to listen to our partner’s feelings. Whereas words of affirmation focus on what and how we are saying it, quality time focuses on what we are hearing.

Listening carefully
Learning to listen isn’t easy for many people especially when they’ve never seen their parents taking enough time to listen. Truly listening means to stop being on the offensive, too many people start a conversation with the intent to respond to whatever the other person is saying. When we listen, we slow down and try to draw out our partner’s questions, thoughts, feelings, and desires instead of trying to respond to what we believe we are hearing. 

Listening with intent and without interruption requires practice to let go of our ego. We focus too much on how we feel about something our partner is saying instead of taking the time to give them our full undivided attention and desire to understand what they are feeling

3 listening quick tips

  • Whenever you talk to your partner with a deep intent to listen, maintain your eye contact and don’t look at anyone else. This shows that they have your full attention and you are fully focused on trying to understanding them
  • Always try to listen for feelings. When we have disagreements we often focus on what we are feeling but the key to effective listening is to focus on what the other person’s emotions are. What feelings is your partner experiencing? If you think you know what they are feeling, re-phrase what you believe you heard and try to confirm that you are understanding them correctly. Simple phrases such as “As I understand you, you were upset not because I came home late but because I said I would help you with the house cleanup? Is this what you’re saying?” can go a long way in showing to your partner that you are listening and trying your best to truly understand what they feel.
  • Observe the body language of your partner. You don’t need to be a body language expert to see obvious signs of irritation. Clenched fists, tears, rapid eye movement or avoiding eye contact, stiff shoulders and closed off arms are all signs that your partner isn’t feeling good. This is an opportunity to see whether there is something that is on their mind they would like to talk about.

 

Self-revelation
Having a quality conversation with our partner also requires us to open up about ourselves and reveal what we feel, after all, if your partner doesn’t know anything about you, how can she feel close to you? Many people, especially men are bad at sharing their feelings either because of their parental upbringing or the general environment they grew up in. If you are bad at sharing your own emotions, spend time to write down your emotions you’ve felt during the day in a simple notebook. This helps you become more in touch with yourself and makes it easier for you to share what you felt during the day.

 

Choosing quality activities
Not all activities are created equal. When we spend time with our partner we want to ensure that both of us are having a good time and that our activities facilitate belonging and togetherness. It’s a great idea to list down activities separately and combine the list with your partner to see things that both of you would appreciate doing.

When you choose an activity, make sure it is something where both of you can have your undivided attention, activities with too many distractions from your partner don’t facilitate togetherness. Any activities you choose to do should be something that obviously at least one of you enjoys, you don’t always both need to like the same activity, doing an activity that is mostly enjoyed by one partner shows to the other person that you care about them and are willing to do something with them that they enjoy. In these cases, a healthy balance of choosing activities that satisfy both partners over the long-term is important.

Making an effort with acts of service

For some people, the greatest way to feel loved is by you doing something for them that they would like you to do. These acts of service show that you’re willing to serve them because you love them. Acts of service can be cooking a meal, setting a table, washing the dishes, maintaining the garden or cleaning the floor. All of these require thought, planning, time, effort and energy – hence they’re not easy to do and are a sign to your partner that you love them.

The story of Tim & Nina is a great example of what happens when we don’t understand each other’s love language. Tim & Nina owned two little puppies in a metropolitan city, both of them had to work during the day and since both puppies weren’t potty-trained yet, whenever they got home from work they’d be awaited with pee and poop on the floor. Tim regularly swept the floor multiple times a day to ensure the room was clean but started to feel resentful when Nina showed her dissatisfaction when he wouldn’t clean the floor properly. 

Tim appreciated words affirmation the most since his parents never gave him the love he desired as a child, so receiving condemning words for his actions made him feel unloved when he didn’t do a good enough job. As a result, he began doing less and less of a good job at cleaning the floor, it began feeling like a chore rather than doing something because he wanted to make his girlfriend happy. What Tim failed to understand was that acts of service were Nina’s love language, so keeping the house clean and helping in the household, in general, was how she felt loved. He made the mistake that many couples, especially married ones, do: They change their behavior for which their partner loved them in the first place.

We often model our behavior after our parents and how they treated each other during their marriage and therefore we believe that certain behaviors are natural but our partner may see things differently. If your partner values acts of service, then fulfilling her requests express your love to her more than anything else ever could.

Acts of service often require considerable amount of effort so when we feel unloved it becomes even harder to do them for our partners. The question you need to ask yourself is not whether you have disagreements but rather: Do you want to change? If you want to serve your partner, the best thing you can do is creating a list together with your partner of things your partner would appreciate you do on a weekly basis. Discuss the list and talk about what’s doable and reasonable for you to do.

Showing that you care with gift-giving

Some people feel most loved when they receive gifts from their partner. For many people, gift-giving doesn’t come naturally and it feels like a bribe but to people whose primary love language is gift-giving, making time to create or buy a gift says “He was thinking of me”. In fact, a gift is a symbol of that though, it’s a permanent reminder of that moment when you took the time to think of your partner. Mothers remember when their children bring a flower from the yard even if it was a flower they didn’t want picked because they know the thought behind the gift.

Gifts come in all shapes and sizes and it doesn’t matter what they cost. For a gift-giver, the cost of the gift matters little, what matters is knowing that you spent the time to think about what to give to your partner in order to make them happy. Gifts don’t need to be expensive, they can be inexpensive objects or objects of high emotional value. Sometimes spontaneously buying a single rose for your partner can speak as much as buying an expensive necklace.

Fortunately for people who aren’t gift-givers, gift-giving is the easiest love language to learn If you’re not a gift giver, choosing what to give to your partner may seem difficult. In that case you may ask friends and family what they may think would be a good idea. Write down your ideas in a notebook and take note of what your partner buys for herself. When you give gifts, don’t wait for a special occassion to give your gifts 

You may feel reluctant to give gifts if you aren’t a spender. Some people naturally like to save money, whereas others enjoy spending their money. If you are the former, buying a gift for your partner may feel like a waste of money. When you feel hesitant to buy gifts for your partner because you are a person who likes to save & invest, remember that you aren’t buying a physical object for your partner, what you really are doing is contributing to the emotional climate of your relationship by making your partner feel loved. When you are buying a gift for your partner you are effecitvely investing in your relationship and your relationship is far more worth than your bank account.

But gifts don’t need to be expensive at all, they can be self-made crafted objects, they can be simple things such as bringing a pizza home with you or giving a card that says “I love you” and hanging on the fridge for your partner to find.

Communicating your affection with physical touch

Physical touch is at the center of all relationships but like all other love languages there are some people who appreciate physical touch more than others and for those love is expressed most sincerely by loving and kind touch. Babies who are held, hugged and kissed developer a healthier emotional life. Our parents communicated their love to us with their touch and we continue to express love to our partners by holding hands, kissing, embracing and of course, having sexual intercourse.

Men and women often mistake why they value sex so much in a relationship, men are naturally inclined to have intercourse in order to release the sperm build-up within their bodies. Women don’t have this natural desire for release and therefore their desire for sex is emotionally based. Men often make the mistake of assuming that their love language is physical touch because they value sex but there is often a lot more to it.

Chances are that if you are a man and you don’t feel loved by your partner aside from having sex, your love language may not be physical touch at all. Physical touch isn’t just limited to our most erroneous zones, we can show our loving touch with a hug, by placing our hands on the back or shoulders of our partner, by holding her hands and so on. If none of these things make you truly appreciated, chances are that you value a different love language.

Loving touch is the most powerful expression of love to a physical toucher and not receiving it speaks more than the words “I hate you”. Physical abuse such as tightly gripping, holding your partner against their will or a slap in the face are devastating to people who value physical touch. On the other end of the spectrum, touching your partner in a way that they appreciate will be the greatest expression of love you can give them. 

We all have zones and spots which we do not like to be touched at, some people are extremely ticklish at a certain area and don’t want to be touched at those spots. Not all touches are created equal, some will bring your partner pleasure and some will irritate your partner. Don’t insist on touching in places that she doesn’t appreciate. Just because you value to be touched that way doesn’t mean that your partner appreciates it in the same way. Always talk to your partner about where it is OK to touch and where hands should be off. To continue touching where she doesn’t want to be touched expresses that you don’t care about how she feels.

Physical touch has powerful healing powers in times of crisis. Whether you are inherently a toucher or not, we often instinctively hug each other during hardships or after a fight to express our love. Being embraced by a warm loving touch from our partner makes us feel safe and loved, so don’t forget the importance of showing your love with physical touch especially during hard times.

Choosing to love in good and bad times

Life can get tough, there are times when we feel beaten down and love isn’t our only emotional need in life, we need security, self-worth & significance to feel fulfilled in our lives – love intersects with all of the above. Being loved by my partner gives me peace of mind that I am able to relax, knowing that I am leaning on someone who has no ill will towards me. 

Knowing that your partner got your back helps you feel secure & supported and this boosts my own self-worth. Love truly makes us feel significant when we’re shown that somebody cares and loves us. While love isn’t the only thing we need in life, it opens the doors for a healthy and loving climate in which we can find answers for our problems and resolve conflicts without condemnation.

We may understand the concept of choosing to love someone to nurture a healthy environment but what if the person we love is no longer loveable, what if your fights have gotten so bad that you feel your partner hates you? The story of Pamela illustrates this dilemma. Nick, had been on an out of town trip to the hospital and when he came back he found out that she lost track of their dog while she was on a walk and their dog had been missing for several days. Their relationship had already been strained and Nick became upset with Pamela. In their heated argument Pamela screamed “You just hate me and want to let out your frustration”. 

Many couples live on the same edge of a love-hate relationship as Nick & Pamela did. What do you do when both of you are hurting each other with your words and actions? Can you love someone whom you hate? Couples often make the mistake to talk to biased friends about their relationships which will tell them to get out of the relationship, telling them they will never change but the truth is, anyone can change with the right motivation.

Any relationship can be rekindled when we fill the love tank of our partners. Speaking their love language and lovingly communicating with them is the first step to new-found love, however this requires a choice on your part to express your love even when you don’t feel love for your partner at the moment.

Loving an unloveable partner during relationship hardships

Loving someone whom we hate isn’t easy but love is always a choice. If we love someone, we must choose to take the high road and take the first steps to heal a damaged relationship. Where both parties are hurt, neither will want to take the first step to bring back love into the relationship. Doing this requires a lot of courage and patience. 

As you begin to speak your partner’s relationship in order to make them feel loved, they will eventually reciprocate the love that you give them but these changes take time. Discovering what makes your partner feel loved is often a period of trial and error and even when we seem to do all the right things, change doesn’t happen overnight. Your partner will need time to adjust to your new loving self. 

The best thing you can do during this period is to stop all complaints to your partner and love her, despite any negative feedback that you receive. You have to brush it off and continue to show your love nevertheless. You may also choose to tell her that you are not happy with the relationship and you are choosing to change something. Letting them know that you are working on yourself for the sake of the relationship gives them peace of mind that whatever you are changing in your behavior is for the sake of both of you. 

Eventually, you will hopefully receive positive feedback, which is the first sign of making progress. Once you notice that your partner is responding to your changed, loving behavior you may ask her to do something for you. Remember to make your requests in a loving, non-demanding manner. Let her know exactly what you want from her and give her a choice to do it. Even if she declines your request, continue to respond with love & kindness.

When your partner doesn’t reciprocate love despite your efforts

Loving someone with whom we are at odds with is hard enough, not receiving love in return despite our efforts hurts even more. By choosing to love your partner despite your differences you are effectively saying “I value this relationship enough to work on our relationship even when you are not yet willing to do so” but somehow our partners will never reciprocate love and they themselves choose to not change their own behavior. 

True love also says “I value this relationship too much to let it deteriorate, so I am no longer letting you do this to us”. Sometimes we need to be clear to our partner that we are no longer happy and want them to change or we are going to walk away from the relationship. Healthy individuals walk away from things that no longer serve them. If your partner chooses to remain stuck in their unhealthy behaviors and is unwilling to love you the way that you want to be loved, then it is OK to draw a line and end the relationship if you’ve exhausted every last effort, including showering them with love while they aren’t loving you back.

Most couples never make this effort, as it is so difficult to make the hard choice to love our partner while they are hurting us. Don’t give up on your love too soon and before you choose to end the relationship give your partner the benefit of the doubt that their lack of love and withdrawal from you are their natural defense mechanism to prevent themselves from getting hurt further.

Many avoid the harder choice of loving their partner after the in-love experience because they don’t feel “high” and instead opt for love with the in-love experience where the emotional high makes it easy and often even pleasurable to do something for our partner to make them happy. When we stop being infatuated with our partner it’s up to us to choose to learn how to love them. When you are no longer on cloud 9, it’s your choice whether you accept your partner for who they are and sincerely and kindly love them, or whether you decide to go down a destructive path of trying to change them obsessively into someone they are not or simply give up and break free to seek a new partner and repeat the cycle all over again.

In the end, while our partners certainly aren’t perfect we need to acknowledge that neither are we and that we should look at what we can do for our lover, not the other way around. When we stay in a relationship with the mindset of thinking about what we can get from them instead of what we can give to them your expectations will always be disappointed. Choosing to love our partner in the hardest of times and doing things for them that don’t come naturally to us, such as learning to speak their love language which feels foreign to us is one of the greatest expression of love we can give to our partner.

Expressing love to your own children

Expressing our love language to our children can be challenging, they aren’t as vocal as an adult, so discovering their love language isn’t as easy as talking with your partner about it. The simplest thing you can do is to experiment and pour all 5 onto your child until you discover what makes your child respond in healthy behavior patterns

Children who don’t receive enough love often don’t develop into responsible adults and struggle with feelings of anger, resentment and low self-esteem. As a result, people who weren’t loved as children often seek love in inappropriate places. These are deep wounds that often only surface and begin to heal late into adulthood, so it is important to raise your children in a loving manner by being a shining example what it means to express love to your partner and them.

Too many parents make the mistake of condemning their children for their failures, yet we don’t spend the time to congratulate them for their successes. Focusing on the failures of our kids does more harm than good, as it tells them that they are not good enough. Success becomes something unattainable and daring to fail becomes unthinkable. This kind of thinking can deeply hurt a person’s self-esteem. 

Children want to see that you care about them just as an adult needs to be loved, so given them your undivided time and don’t shy away from going doing to their level. They may have interests that bore you as an adult but for a child these activities are meaningful bonding and learning experiences to grow into a functioning and loving adult. 

Focusing on your child’s love language greatly helps with making them feel appreciated, e. G. if your son appreciates skateboarding, take the time to go to the skatepark with them or even try to pick up the board yourself, even though you may suck at it. For a child that appreciates acts of service, helping them with a school project or repairing their bikes and toys means a lot to them and so on.

Quick tips to fix fix my relationship? Sounds like a scam!

Healthy habits shape us individually and are also a reflection of our relationships. Establishing healthy habits and practices is just as important as it is to understand the nitty-gritty details of male-female communication. This section is dedicated towards the “quick wins”, the simple things you can do right now without much effort to improve your relationship.

It doesn’t matter whether you’re newly dating, in a long-term relationship or a married couple, these tips help any relationship to improve communication, increase intimacy and bring back the spark between you. They are designed to be simple and easy in execution so it is easy to regularly find time for them. 

Why do small efforts matter more than big ones?

A study by Gottman has shown that happy relationships are determined by the ratio of how many positive interactions couples have compared to negative interactions, or in simpler terms how often do you have fun together, express your appreciation and love versus how often do you have disagreements, fight or don’t spend time together in meaningful and fun ways. The bottom-line is that the more often we make a positive impression on our partner, the more likely we are to be happily in love. Gary Chapman explains this principle as a love-tank which determines how much filled we are with love. When we don’t love each other or hurt our partner, we slowly empty the tank until we feel drained and unloved.

There are many simple things we often can do in just a few minutes daily In order to keep the balance between positive and negative experience in favor of love and appreciation. The following tips are suggestions on how you can keep the flame glowing and build a relationship based on trust, commitment and daily choices to give to your partner.

Writing a love-journal for your partner

This one is one of my most favorite relationship game-changers because it has so much impact on how both of you show up in the relationship. When we are in a long-term relationship it often happens that we become complacent and focus more on the negative aspects of our partner than the positive ones. This can lead to resentment or complacency, to the point where we either become enemies or roommates, rather than passionate lovers.

The truth is your partner has been incredibly special to you at the beginning of your relationship, you’ve simply forgotten how great he or she is. A love-journal is a simple way to write on a daily basis at least one thing you appreciate and love about your partner. A journal filled with love for your partner is one of the best gifts you can give at an anniversary to truly show how much you care and it’s something invaluable that cannot be replaced. Your partner will immediately fall in love all over again for this act of gratitude.

What’s even better is that you are going to see a shift in your own behavior. Focusing on the things that you love about your partner helps you see her in a new light and you’ll be reminded of why you fell in love in the first place. You’ll automatically treat your partner more lovingly and as a result she’s going to begin reciprocating more love as she feels more loved by you.  

Writing a gratitude-journal with things you’re grateful for

Healthy habits shape us individually and are also a reflection of our relationships. Establishing healthy habits and practices is just as much as it is important to understand the nitty-gritty details of male-female communication. This section is dedicated towards the “quick wins”, the simple things you can do right now without much effort to improve your relationship.

It doesn’t matter whether you’re newly dating, in a long-term relationship or a married couple, these tips help any relationship to improve communication, increase intimacy and bring back the spark between you. 

Rating how loved you felt in the last 2 weeks

Rate me, baby! We often don’t take the time to discuss openly how we feel about the relationship. Most couples only have deep conversations about the state of their relationship when the relationship is on the brink of collapse. Rate me baby is a simple exercise for couples to talk about how well the relationship is doing by asking a simple question every 2-4 weeks: “On a scale of 1-10, how happy do you feel with our relationship? Is there something that I could have done better in the last weeks?” 

If the answer to your question isn’t a straight ten, all you have to do is ask “What could I have done to make it a 10 for you?”. This exercise may seem scary at first because you may be afraid of dealing with conflict but rating your relationship regularly will result in a healthier and more forgiving climate in which bringing up reasons for dissatisfaction can be brought up in a loving, non-judgemental and non-blaming tone.

Most couples prefer to do this once a month, some do it every two weeks or simply at someone’s discretion. Doing it too often makes it feel like a chore, doing it only every few months may result in problems that could have been resolved much sooner and likely wouldn’t even turn into problems. Rate me baby is a great activity to have meaningful conversations with your partner and deepen your shared bond. 

Taking notes of what makes your partner happy

Misunderstanding and miscommunicating what our partner does and thinks is one of the most common reasons why relationships fail. It’s hard enough to fully understand yourself, let alone another person. It gets even harder when one partner has a stronger feminine side and the other one has a more masculine side. Men & women perceive and respond almost 180degrees differently, so it’s not always easy to understand why something isn’t working out in a relationship.

Keeping a simple journal with notes of what made your partner goes a long way to get to know your partner better. Whenever your partner is happy either because something happened to her during the day or because you did something that made her feel appreciated, take a moment to write in a journal what it was as a reminder what it is that makes her day. 

These insights are great indicators of how you can surprise your partner in unexpected ways when she least expects it. Not only do these things have a strong impact by randomly surprising your partner, they also communicate more than anything that you are listening to them and truly care about what drives them and makes them feel fulfilled.

 

Speaking your partner’s love language unexpectedly

  • Complimenting your partner on how much you appreciate their effort for you when they’ve done something for you
  • Telling them that you believe in them, especially when others don’t do so
  • Encourage her to do something that she is afraid of
  • Showing interest in her work and complimenting her for her talents
  • Saying “I love you” in unique and unexpected ways, such as “you look great in that dress”, “I love your dedication when working out” or letting your partner know that you’re proud for being with them because they’ve exuded a positive quality you value
  • Letting her know how happy you are that she is happy and telling her it makes her look beautiful
  • Compliment your partner in public or in front of others (they may tell her)
  • Send a loving email or text message randomly during the day
  • Keep a notebook with words others use to show love. What do you read in books? Take notes which words make your partner happy
  • Hiding secret hand-written mini love-notes in extremely unexpected places, some ideas are:
    • In one of her shoes
    • Under her pillow
    • in the fridge next to her favorite food
    • In her luggage when traveling before she leaves
    • In a bookmarked page in a physical book
    • In her drawer
    • On the bathroom mirror in lipstick or steam
    • On the last page of her notebook / journal (don’t peek!)
    • In her wallet or purse
    • Taped to the back-side of her laptop
    • Hanging on a doorknob In her pockets In her email, voice mail or your mailbox 

Words of affirmation

  • Complimenting your partner on how much you appreciate their effort for you when they’ve done something for you
  • Telling them that you believe in them, especially when others don’t do so
  • Showing interest in her work and complimenting her for her talents
  • Saying “I love you” in unique and unexpected ways, such as “you look great in that dress”, “I love your dedication when working out” or letting your partner know that you’re proud for being with them because they’ve exuded a positive quality you value
  • Letting her know how happy you are that she is happy and telling her it makes her look beautiful
  • Compliment your partner in public or in front of others (they may tell her)
  • Send a loving email or text message randomly during the day
  • Hiding secret hand-written mini love-notes in extremely unexpected places, some ideas are:
    • In one of her shoes
    • Under her pillow
    • in the fridge next to her favorite food
    • In her luggage when traveling before she leaves
    • In a bookmarked page in a physical book
    • In her drawer
    • On the bathroom mirror in lipstick or steam
    • On the last page of her notebook / journal (don’t peek!)
    • In her wallet or purse
    • Taped to the back-side of her laptop
    • Hanging on a doorknob In her pockets In her email, voice mail or your mailbox 

Quality time

  • Coming home from work earlier than expected and spending the extra time with her
  • Spontaneously inviting her to a special dinner and taking care of everything. Perhaps it’s a good occasion, maybe you had a good day and want to share your happiness and love with your significant other
  • Canceling one of your regular activities to surprise her with extra time
  • Giving her a massage and asking her about her day
  • Bringing up a casual discussion about your relationship and how you can make it even better
  • Turning off the TV, Netflix or your game to go and talk to your partner
  • Spending extra time in the morning to cuddle and talk about the plans for the day
  • Unexpectedly drop by with something from across the street (this also works as gift giving)
  • Give her your undivided attention when something bad happened and she needs you
  • Give her your undivided attention when something great happened and sh wants to share it with you

Acts of service

  • Quietly make breakfast while she is still sleeping, bonus points for waking her with a kiss
  • Doing something for her that she hates doing
  • Doing something every now and then that’s usually her share of responsibility
  • Offer to help her parents with something you overheard they are working on
  • Running an errand for her when she is barely able to make time for it
  • Unexpectedly doing a full-house cleanup
  • Spending time to learn massaging skills on YouTube and treating her regularly to a massage
  • Offer help on a tight work deadline if you’re able to help in even just small ways
  • Buying and working on something she’s expressed interest of improvement in the house for a while. It’s a good idea to invite her to buy whatever you need to avoid bad surprises

Gift giving

  • Secretly spend time at a craftsmanship workshop and make something that means something to her
  • Give her a single rose when she doesn’t expect it
  • Bring her a box of her favorite food and sweets to work
  • Print out a memorable picture of you and her and frame it
  • Unexpectedly buy her earrings or a necklace and tell her you wanted her to wear something as beautiful as her
  • Bring something from your last trip
  • Write a short love letter and sneak it into her bag (this is also words of affirmation)

Physical touch

  • Loving touch after sex, it shows that you value her and being close to her even after you had sexual satisfaction
  • Greet with a hug, part with a kiss
  • Kiss her unexpectedly, hug for no reason
  • Snuggle on the couch when you’re both doing your own thing
  • Place your arm around her in public
  • Rub her neck while she’s doing something
  • Give a massage and spend extra time to learn how to give massage
  • Put her on a piggy-back ride and embrace her thighs
  • Spend extra time on foreplay and treat her body like a treasure
  • Give a loving touch on the back when she’s doing something and show your appreciation for her with a kiss 
The Five Love Languages
Communication differences between men & women

Why under