Speaking Your Spouse’s Love Language

Written with love, by Karley Kiker

Before we got married, Taylor lied to me—a big fat one that I didn’t see coming until I was standing in the middle of it a few months after tying the knot. “My number one love language is physical touch,” he had previously announced during one of our pre-marital counseling sessions. Our pastor had assigned The Five Love Languages to us as reading material, and just a few weeks before walking the aisle, it was time to share our results. “Mine is words of affirmation,” I responded.

Like I said, Taylor lied. (But my proclamation wasn’t exactly 100 percent accurate either. While I do crave verbal praise, I’m also pretty darn touchy-feely and I like to hold hands whenever possible. Basically, I am a happy camper if my husband tells me I’m smart and pretty while simultaneously giving me a massage.) Although Taylor thought his love language was physical touch, we later learned that his results were skewed due to the fact that sex was off the table during our engagement. After the honeymoon, it became apparent that his true love language is quality time.

Speaking Your Spouse’s Love Language - Marriage Advice

AHA! So that’s why he always gets offended when I flip through Instagram while riding shotgun in the car! He wants to have a conversation with me—or at least have my help in deciphering Siri’s directions—and instead I tend to treat him like my own private chauffeur. Suddenly a lot of the silent treatment I receive post car ride(s) makes a lot more sense. It hurts Taylor’s feelings when I’m physically there without being mentally and emotionally present, just like it rubs me the wrong way when he refuses to rub my back.

Like everything else about the marriage journey, picking up on these cues has been a learning process for us. That’s (especially) because speaking Taylor’s love language requires more than just hearing what he’s saying—it means intentionally listening, and furthermore, it means responding in the way that he needs to be responded to.

I will never forget the day that we left for our honeymoon in Mexico. We were at the airport and Taylor wasn’t feeling so hot...stomach hurting, head aching, all that good stuff. I felt so bad for him and wanted nothing more than to comfort him, so I did exactly what I would have wanted him to do if the situation was reversed (that’s the Golden Rule, right?)—I scratched his back and rubbed his forehead. Now, if he was really a “physical touch” kind of guy, that gesture would have been right up his alley. So imagine my surprise when he said, “I don’t want this to hurt your feelings, but I really don’t like to be touched when I’m sick. It makes me feel worse.” Naturally, I was crushed. I had been a wife for all of 24 hours and already I had failed! Since then, though, I’ve learned that this simply isn’t the best way for me to tell Taylor “I love you” when he’s sick. Giving him space works much better.

The process of learning how to love your spouse in the way that they can best accept it is often difficult and counterintuitive, which is why I think it must be the PhD of marriage. But when you finally start to grasp it, the reward is seeing your best friend’s heart come to life. There is no greater feeling!

Do you have any “sick at the airport” stories about struggling to speak your spouse’s love language? I’d love to hear them!