When reconnecting with our loved one after a long deployment or separation there are many resources to help. One such resource is the popular book by Dr. Gary Chapman, The Five Love Languages. Dr. Chapman writes how we can show our love to our spouse in a way that speaks straight to their heart and fills up their "love tank" by speaking their "love language". Dr. Chapman explains that often the way we experience and feel love is much different than how our spouse experiences and feels love. "Every time I shared the concept of the love languages, the "lights came on" for couples and they realized why they had been missing each other emotionally. When they discovered and spoke each other's primary love language, it radically changed the emotional climate of their marriage."
Dr. Chapman's Five Love Languages
Words of Affirmation
For this person, hearing words that are appreciative, positive and encouraging are key to feeling love. Examples of how to share words of affirmation: Tell your spouse how proud you are of them, how much you appreciate the big and little things they do for you and your family. Sharing verbal compliments can really be the perfect way to fill up their love tank.
Acts of Service
For this person, they really love the small acts of love you do for them. The point is not to become their butler, but take the time to do something for them that you know they would like for you to do. Recognize it's the small things that you can do for them with a positive, loving spirit they will cherish the most.
This one can be tricky. This doesn't mean you are buying gifts all the time, but instead means you are thoughtful in expressing your love through creative gifts. The gift can be as simple as a funny card, a single flower or even something handmade that didn't cost anything. Try making a note when your spouse mentions something they'd like to try and surprise them later with that item!
You might be thinking, "I already spend a lot of time with my spouse, why would I need to do anything different?" The person who speaks this love language wants your undivided attention. Consider turning off your cell phone, limit distractions, and practice active listening. Talk with your spouse and make a mini-bucket-list that highlights activities they would like to share with just you and make a plan to experience those activities.
For this person their love language is centered on physical touch. Hugs, holding hands, kissing, and thoughtful touches. Now for military couples this one could be really hard to accomplish since our loved ones work such long hours and have erratic schedules. You might need to get creative. If your spouse is on board a ship for example and has duty, make plans to have dinner onboard. You might not be able to hold hands, but you will be able to sit side by side.
Dr. Gary Chapman will release a new version of the series, The 5 Love Languages Military Edition: The Secret to Love That Lasts on September 1, 2013.