Editor’s Note: This is part 4 in a series on Sex and Intimacy. Click here to read from the beginning.
When we talked about the 5 Love Languages, we learned that everyone has a preferred method of receiving love: verbally, physically, gifts, quality time, or acts of service. But we didn’t find out how we could tell if our actions were working for our partner. Gary Chapman has more to tell:
The Math of Relationships
Whether you look at it like a savings account or a tank of gas, you can easily gauge the level of your partner’s emotional satisfaction with your relationship.
In a savings account, you make many more deposits than withdrawals. A relationship works the same way. You make “deposits” into your relationship every time you do something good or maintain your level of responsibility. Your relationship grows stronger so that when you do make a mistake – and we all do – you still have a big enough balance in your account to work things out.
A gas tank works the same way. In order for your car to run, you need to have gas. If your car is low on gas, you won’t get very far without filling up.
Checking Your Mate’s Satisfaction Level
We go through life assuming a lot of things, the most careless being that our mates are as happy as we are. You can’t really know this unless you ask and make it a safe environment for your mate to tell you exactly what he or she thinks. And then do something about it.
You don’t even have to talk to your mate about the 5 Love Languages if you don’t want to (though it helps). All you have to do is tell him or her that you want to check in every week or so with a simple question: “How full is your tank?”
Spouses can easily use this question to gauge their level of satisfaction in a non-threatening way, and it is the quickest method I have found of airing gripes and resolving frustrations. You can make it into an hour-long conversation if you want, but we typically address it in less than 5 minutes.
Husband: “Honey, how is your love tank this week?”
Wife: “It is about 3/4 full, thanks for asking.”
Husband: “What can I do to make it all the way full?”
Wife: “I’m feeling a little bit overwhelmed lately because of work and could use some help. If you would make dinner after work the rest of this week I can work a little later and not have to bring any work home with me.”
Husband: “I can do that.”
Wife: “Tell me about your love tank. Is it full?”
Husband: “Mine is about 3/4 full, too. Part of it is missing you because we are working so hard, but the other part is that I miss you physically and want to have more sex.”
Wife: “If I don’t have to bring home work then I’ll be much more relaxed in the evenings for sex. And this project will be over in a week and we can go back to our regular sex life, I promise.”
Husband: “That would make me very happy.”
Okay, so this example might be a little corny, but you can see how short the conversation is and how it can easily cover the biggest gripes you each have with the level of closeness in your relationship each week. And when you can diagnose and solve a problem as it is happening, you prevent resentments from growing and keep your relationship strong.
You may also find that your complaints are related to each other. In the above example, she is working harder and feeling more overwhelmed, and he is wondering why they aren’t having sex more often. By helping her feel less overwhelmed, she is now able to relax and enjoy having sex.
The more often you do this, the easier it gets. And you’ll go from feeling a little bit silly asking the question to really relying on it to fulfill your partner’s needs and make your own needs known. We are not mind-readers, and neither are our mates.
It always comes down to communication, whether you are talking about money, simplicity, sex, intimacy, or family.
How do you find out how your mate is feeling about your relationship? How do you let him or her know your feelings?