Tis the season for giving.
You can spend endless hours shopping for the perfect gift for your partner. Scouring the Internet for that gift that will knock their socks off, but the greatest gift you can give is the one of true giving.
We all like to say that giving is better than receiving, but sometimes this very principal is one that often gets taken for granted in long-term relationships.
Give the gift of true giving this season.
What is true giving?
It is giving without the expectation of anything in return. It’s giving for the pure aim of making the other person happy, and fulfilling their desires.
This seems to be easier for couples to do in the early stages of their relationship. Dating is passionate and emotions can be so overwhelming that it’s difficult not to truly give. Love letters, mixed tapes (or iTunes playlists for the current generation), late-night text messages – it’s easy to profess your love in the beginning without the expectation of much in return.
In the early stages, you just want to make your partner smile and let them know that you love them. It doesn’t matter if that means you wake up at 5am to make them breakfast and pack them a lunch for the day (I totally used to do that for my husband when we first got married).
As time passes you begin to settle into routine, and many people have children and their resources become limited. Time, energy, and sleep are depleted, especially when you’re raising babies and young children. The thought of staying up to finish a movie after 10pm starts to feel insane, so getting in bed and making love on a work night can feel equally draining.
So what does this have to do with giving? And what the heck are you supposed to give your spouse this holiday season?
It has everything to do with giving. True giving.
True giving means that you give even though it may cost you resources. Not necessarily monetary resources, but other resources that may be spread thin during this time in your life – time, energy, sleep, etc.
The perfect gift is the one that your partner truly wants to receive.
You might think you know what they want, but it may also just be what you want to give – it may be coming from your perception of what love is.
This brings me to one of the principals that I generally share and teach the couples I work with in my practice – The 5 Love Languages. If you’ve never heard of this concept, be sure to click here to take the quiz online, and find out what yours and your partner’s love language is, it will truly change your relationship if you apply it.
In case you’ve never heard of the 5 Love Languages, I’ll give you the Cliff’s Notes version: We all have specific ways that we show love, and ways that we perceive that we are being loved.
Gary Chapman breaks this concept down into 5 different languages, which are: gift giving, acts of service, quality time, physical touch, and words of affirmation.
Which one best describes what’s most important for you to receive? Which one truly makes you feel loved? Is it receiving a small thoughtful gift? Spending an evening at home, talking and having quality time with your partner? Or is it hearing how much they love you, and having them express gratitude regularly for what you do around the house? Do you feel most loved when your partner sends you out the door with a lunch in hand, or folds your laundry?
And which one best describes your partner?
The complication that many couples get into is that they don’t always have the same love language. So, if yours is quality time, and your partner’s is physical touch, you may be continually trying to talk at him or her, when they just want to be cuddled.
I often use the analogy that your partner tells you, “I’m thirsty,” and so you go to the kitchen and bring them a glass of orange juice.
To your dismay, your partner doesn’t want orange juice, and they respond with, “I just want water please.”
But you’re so taken aback, and think, “who doesn’t want OJ?? It’s so tasty, and tangy, and has some essential nutrients in it.” You continue to try to get your partner to see your point of view, but alas, they just want water, and you feel like they’re completely missing out on your favorite drink.
Here you have two choices – you can either keep trying to get them to love OJ as their go-to thirst quencher, or you can just give in, and give them the water they so desperately want.
This seems like a no-brainer, right? I mean just bring a glass of water instead of the OJ and your partner will be happy.
So why, when we are talking about love languages, is it so difficult to speak you partner’s love language? I think it’s because we sometimes forget about the true gift of giving.
If all your partner really needs in the relationship is to feel your physical touch, why keep trying to talk? When you begin to feel disconnected, reach out, speak their language, and get physical.
Your love language may be quality time, and so having in-depth conversation may totally be your jam, but when you start to give without the expectation of receiving, and stop waiting for your partner to fulfill your needs before you take that step, you’ll see a change in him or her.
When you speak your partner’s language, they’ll be more likely to speak yours in return, and your relationship will improve.
Give your partner the gift they really need this season. The gift of love - in a way they can truly interpret.
If you’re stuck on this whole love language concept, please reach out to me! I love working with couples and helping them have the relationships they truly desire, you can reach me at (909) 226-6124, or learn more at www.ranchocounseling.com.