I can only imagine how difficult it must be to marry someone who speaks a different language than you. Let’s face it, men and women already struggle to communicate due to being designed to think differently- adding a language barrier on top of this must be frustrating! Yet, if the two truly love one another, they will seek to learn the other’s language so that they can properly communicate with one another. There is nothing cuter than a man who carries around a Spanish dictionary because he has decided to marry a truly authentic Spanish-speaking girl. On the contrary, it would be quite annoying if that same guy went out and spent his last five bucks on the Webster Dictionary for his wife to begin learning English (unless of course, he had already been learning her language on his own accord). This is not to say that the wife should not seek to learn English; if she really cared to communicate with him then she would. Both parties should seek to learn the others language out of genuine selfless love for the one another.
My husband and I both speak English, but like many couples, we struggle to communicate love to one another because our “love languages” are naturally different due to our personalities and the families we were born into. It is not that we don’t absolutely adore one another; it is that we sometimes fail to communicate that we absolutely adore one another. It is not that we do not try to communicate our love for one another; it’s just that we don’t try hard enough at times. If we go back to our analogy of the American man and the Spanish woman, we can understand this concept a bit better. Everyone knows that it is difficult to learn a new language, so we often try to communicate with our spouse using our own language but with a little extra effort. If the American man is struggling to learn Spanish, he may speak English to his wife but add some hand gestures or universal body motions (basically the little they naturally have in common). While this will bring the two a little closer to understanding one another; it will not allow for the deep connection a husband and wife are meant to have. Although the two will get by, something vital will be missing.
Years ago, a famous author came out with a brilliant book called “The Five Love Languages.” He explained that each person receives & feels love through one of these five ways:
- Spending quality time with someone and believing that someone truly wants to spend quality time with you.
- Physically touching someone and being physically touched.
- Speaking encouraging words to someone and someone speaking encouraging words to you.
- Giving others gifts and receiving gifts from others.
- Serving and sacrificing for others and others serving and sacrificing for you.
Although we all enjoy being loved in all of these ways, we each tend to prefer one or two the most. If you fell in love with someone who has your exact same love language, all you have to worry about is general gender differences, but if you are like most couples, you are going to have to do the very hard work of learning a new language.
There is truth in the saying that opposites attract. Opposites tend to complement one another’s personalities and make life a lot more interesting. But, opposites also have some pretty major kinks to work through in marriage and it takes two people who are willing to buckle down and study each others language. Although it is not easy, it is truly quite simple to figure out your spouses “love language.” Just watch how they naturally love you. This is sometimes difficult to recognize because you may not feel loved by the way they naturally love you, but with a little attentiveness, it’s not hard to figure out.
My husband is the most self-sacrificing man I know. He would give his kidney to a stranger if I would let him. He truly enjoys serving others and meeting people’s practical needs. Yet, he is fiercely independent, and greatly enjoys his own company. As for me, I have to make a conscience effort to be self-sacrificing. Although I enjoy serving others, it does not come naturally to me. It is a language that my husband has helped me to learn and grow in. And although I am also very independent, I greatly enjoy spending 90% of my time with other people. While I greatly appreciate my husband’s servitude and sacrificial heart (part of why I fell in love with him), I feel the most loved (and liked) when he gives me his undivided time and attention. My husband is also a “class clown” type, full of wittiness and jokes. He is also a highly critical thinker which is what makes him of great value when a problem (or a mathematical equation) needs to be solved. These gifts coupled together can sometimes result in teasing, too much joking, or too much criticism. Since my second love-language is words of encouragement, I can quickly feel unloved or un-liked when this takes place. Of course, my husband’s heart is never to intentionally make me feel unloved or un-liked; it is a simple case of miscommunication.
This concept is highly relatable and easy to understand, but very difficult to put into practice. As all things worth doing in marriage, it requires hard work and dedication. It requires both parties to recognize that they need to intentionally study their spouse’s love language on a daily basis. It is frustrating because it is not the language the person has been speaking their whole life. It is painful because the person often feels like a failure when they try their best and do not seem to get it at first. It takes “dying to self” on a regular basis and maintaining the self discipline that is needed to learn a whole new way of thinking. It also requires breaking bad communication habits that are passed down to us from previous generations. But, this is the only way to have the deep connection every husband and wife longs for. My husband and I equally enjoy physical affection. It is a portion of communication we don’t have to work on too much because we already speak the same language in this area; but, if we just focus on this one area of our relationship, we will miss out on the lasting bond it takes to sustain a life-long marriage commitment.
Many great intentioned couples who really do adore each other are struggling in their marriages because they are speaking different love languages and not putting in the hard effort to learn a new language. But, this is God’s purpose. He intentionally puts those together who have opposite love languages because His plan is that they learn to be selfless and grow in Christ-like character. The enemy would like you to believe that you made a mistake, that you married the wrong person, that you and your spouse are simply incompatible, and that divorce may be the best option for you both. But, divorce should be the last option. True love picks up the nearest dictionary in their spouses language, places it on their bed stand, and works on learning it every day for the rest of his or her life!