I want to show love but I don’t know how. Does it need to be shown every time? Doesn’t he/she know that I love him/her?
Love is something that we all crave for. Love has multiple facets. But the one most common love that we recognize and that I talk about here is the love between partners.
People fall in love, feel romantic, be in a relationship and then form a committed relationship like marriage or move in together. Or it could be an arranged marriage setup as well. But over a period of time the love seems to diminish, seems to have been deteriorated by the everyday travails, challenges and issues that the couple face.
As a Couple Counsellor, I see many couples who do love each other, but somehow have fallen out of the habit of showing that love to each other. They ask me – I love my partner but I don’t know how to show it to them. Shouldn’t they need to know it by default? Or some couples tell me whatever they do to show their love, it is not being recognized, accepted and acknowledged by their partners.
Expressing your love to your partner in a committed relationship can take multiple ways and forms. Long term love is associated with care, concern, affection, interest, company and so on. It may not be as heady and exciting as the initial falling in love times but is a steadying, supporting and nurturing factor in a relationship.
As Gary Chapman says, you need to show and express Love in the way and form that your partner would recognize and appreciate.
I usually give this example my in the Couple Counselling sessions. If I like chocolates and whenever I meet friends, if I want to give something to them, my default thought process would be to buy some chocolates for them. But it is possible that they may not like chocolates as much as I do. What I need to think about, is whether they like chocolates or not. Otherwise my whole purpose of bringing something for them is not really met.
Chapman calls these love languages. He says that we all speak a primary love language and may be a set of secondary love languages. That we need to understand what our partners love language is and express in that language that they can understand, acknowledge and appreciate.
He talks about the basic five love languages as words of affirmation , quality time, acts of service, gifts and physical touch.
I will talk about this and details in my next post. But in this post, let us look at the barriers for someone to express their love to their partner. Before we address the how part, we need to understand what the barriers are so that they can be dealt with.
Beliefs about expressing love
You might believe that love among partners should be implicit and understood and not necessarily be overtly expressed. This may be one of the most important barrier for you to learn to express your love to your partner. You may believe this way, but your partner might not believe that way. So in a relationship you need to take into account that you are committed to address your partner’s reasonable needs, one of which could be to receive the love expressed by their partner.
Inability to over come and oversee the negatives because of the difficult circumstances, challenges faced in the relationship and other problems.
Life is such, where problems, challenges and struggles are inevitable, which also means conflicts between partners are inevitable. This might create a negative mindset towards your relationship and your partner. If you are not able to let go of these negative experiences it will be difficult for you to express love to your partner.
I don’t love my partner anymore (but we don’t hate each other)
As I had mentioned before the Love may not be as heady and exciting as the initial “falling in love” times. Love can take multiple facets and forms. The day today challenges that you both face as a couple could have eroded the initial excitement. But if you are still together, still a couple, still parents together, then there is some kind of attachment and love between the two of you. You need to find out what kind of love it is and be able to express that. If you want to keep your partner happy and in-turn keep yourself happy as well, then learning to express your love could give you that. Don’t we all want to be happy in our life?
Taking your partner for granted
This is another significant reason why people are not able to and are not willing to express their love to their partner. Even if I don’t show my love and affection even if I don’t be explicitly caring and considerate to my partner, my partner doesn’t complain or my partner would not create problems for me or fight with me or leave me and go. This is a recipe for disaster and recipe for conflict escalation and prolonged unhappiness.
You don’t lose anything by being polite kind and compassionate towards your partner. It only enhances your relationship. You need to look within and find those facets of love which is there for your partner and be able to express it in the way that your partner would be able to understand and recognize, if you are looking for a happy and fulfilling long term relationship.
You can see the support a professional couple therapist if you are struggling in any of these areas and are looking for happy and fulfilling relationship.
About the Author:
Kala Balasubramanian is certified Counselling Psychologist/Psychotherapist with a Masters in Counselling and Psychotherapy, Diplomas in Counselling and has further certifications specializing in couple/marriage/relationship counselling and family counselling. She provides a supportive, understanding, professional and confidential environment to work with clients – Individuals and Couples explore their emotions, help them understand and manage their challenges, relationships and stress better.