Ask Elizabeth: How Do I Know?

Elizabeth BrennanGuilty Gil writes;

I am quite confused and, at times, angry.  My partner and I have been together now for about 5 years.  I know that our friends would describe our relationships as nearly perfect. We have similar interests and do things together and, at the same time, give each other some freedom to do our own thing.

But I don’t really know if she really loves me.  She never says the words “I love you” and when I ask her, she rubs me off by saying something like, “Of course, I love you.  Look at all that I do for you”. And then I plunge down into awful guilt that smothers me.  I just want to hear the words. Am I expecting too much?

Elizabeth says;

Oh, yes, this is a very common issue in all relationships.  And, at the very beginning, let me assure you that you are not expecting too much and you do not need to feel any guilt.  But you may have to do something very crucial.

In his book, ‘The Five Love Languages’, Gary Chapman suggests that there are five basic ways in which humans express and receive love. Whilst he has condensed the many ways in which humans express love into five, he acknowledges that there is immense freedom and uniqueness in the five languages; he acknowledges our individuality. Chapman’s five languages are:

1.    Words of Affirmation 

Solomon, the ancient Hebrew wisdom author, said, “The tongue has the power of life and death”. Verbal compliments, or words of appreciation, are powerful communicators of love.  Example, “I really appreciate your washing the dishes tonight”, “You must be the best potato cook in the world. I love this meal!”, “I love you”.

2.    Quality Time

When we give the other person our undivided attention, such as turning off the television for an hour; going for a walk before dinner; quality conversation.

3.    Receiving Gifts

Gifts are visual symbols of love.  A gift is something you can hold in your hand and say, “Look, she was thinking of me”, or “She remembered me”. Gifts are not measured in monetary terms; they come in all sizes, colours and shapes; they may be purchased, found or made.  One single rose.

4.    Acts of Service

Such acts could be cooking a meal, washing the dishes, getting hairs out of the sink; changing the cat’s litter box or doing some gardening.

5.    Physical Touch

Physical touch can make or break a relationship.  It can communicate hate or love. To the person whose primary love language is physical touch, the message will be far louder than any words.

In times of crisis or at the end of an ordinary day, we all need to feel loved.  We cannot always change events, but we can survive if we feel loved.  We have to recognise and appreciate our differences; the unique ways in which we express love, the ways we like to show our love to others.

How do we discover each other’s primary love language?  We ask, we communicate. Listen to each other, be open to each other. That is the crucial part.

Please send questions on relationships to Elizabeth Brennan, Relationships Australia, PO Box 1206, West Leederville, WA 6901, or email [email protected]

Elizabeth is only able to answer your enquiries in print in OUTinPerth and cannot give personal replies.

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