I've posted several times about knowing your spouses love languages. I think it's one of the most important ways you can invest in a marriage, but I'm here today to warn you against a something that I thought was the answer. In fact, using the Love Language thing almost destroyed my marriage.
The premise of the thing is simple. You have a tank. Your partner has a tank. The way they "hear" or feel loved is done by your language. For instance, my husband's numero uno is Touch. So I make it a priority that we cuddle, have sex, that I hold his hand in public, etc. While I enjoy these things also, they really speak to him. My language is Words. For me to "hear" love, it fills me deeply to hear things like "thank you." "How was your day?" "I'm so blessed to be your husband" etc...
Here's the problem with the whole thing... Well,.. Two problems, I think....
1) It puts the burden on your spouse to fill your tank.
While obviously making your spouse feel loved is a goal, it's a smidgen unrealistic to think that only they can "fill your tank." To do so puts them in the same spot as if they were in charge of your happiness. There is no way that your spouse's job is to make you happy. I'm sorry if this bursts a bubble in your marriage, but here's the deal: if you weren't a happy person before marriage, you won't be after marriage. The goal of a Godly marriage is holiness, not happiness. Marriage should make you a better person. Obviously, you shouldn't be miserable. Obviously, God wants our marriages to be FULL of joy and laughter. But to put the sole burden of giggles per day on your spouse is cruel and degrading.
And this is where I totally got it wrong. I became so bitter. I was trying so hard to fill my husband's tank, and felt like I was getting nothing in return. It was terrible. Nothing he did was the right thing, because I had set him up on a standard that was impossible to fulfill. Because he wasn't a Words guy (He really isn't. Words were his last language) I was trying to "fish" for compliments thinking that would help the situation. The didn't (duhhh) because anything that came out was fed to him and insincere.
I became so empty, that even doing things in my own languages (Words and Acts of Service) became difficult. The kids would go down for a nap, and I'd nap with them when I would normally relish in being able to do dishes without little voices peeping at me.
Everything I was falling apart.
And my husband was doing the same thing. Problem was, I became cold and distant, starving my husband in ways I couldn't understand. When I did touch him, he felt like it was for show and insincere (sound familiar)
Let me remind you of something, Mommas: Your faith - your relationship with God - is the source of your joy. God fills your tank. Not your spouse. They may "top it off" but only God is the truest source of love in every language.
Which brings me to the second issue:
2) This whole "tank" business.
While I can see the metaphor, and maybe some uses. Viewing love like a gas tank is a terrible idea. Love isn't like that. I think of love as something more substantial... like peanut butter... Has anyone ever really emptied a peanut butter jar? It takes a dishwasher, a golden retriever with a mighty, mighty tongue, and some strong scrubbing to actually empty a peanut butter jar.
That's love. Sometimes, I have to scrape the sides and muscle up some lovin'. But really, it's there. Sometimes you just have to do what you don't feel like doing to fill the other's jar and trust that God can multiply what you're capable of.
Now, energy? That's a tank. It smells like coffee, and when that bad boy is empty, it's empty. But love fills in where energy leaves off. Love can take it.
I still think learning your partner's languages is a good idea. I really do. But please use it as a tool and not a trap for your partner to fall into. They'll never win.