You’ve probably heard of Gary Chapman’s 5 love languages, which according to him, is how we prefer to communicate love. For many couples, learning about these love languages created aha moments that help to fix most of their miscommunication issues
Gary Chapman identifies the 5 love languages as: Acts of Service, Words of Affirmation, Gifts, Quality Time, and Physical Touch. For most people, the belief is that the other person in the relationship is expected to communicate with their partner in the partner’s love language.
During one of my musings on this, I realized that actually, every individual should be the first to use their love language on themselves before they expect the partner to use their love language on them. That way, they know what to require from their partner.
Have you heard of the saying, “Too much of anything is bad?” Well, if a partner over does it when it comes to another’s love language, then things could get worse! There could be associated trauma and the too much triggers it!
To get to the point of this blog, I will discuss another of my musings which explores how trauma could complicate the whole love language thing. When I first heard of the love languages, I could not identify which one was mine. I didn’t care for words of affirmation, acts of service, quality time, touch or gifts! Little did I know that my past trauma was interfering.
So what was my love language?
Years later as I started my journey as a healer, and dealing with clients who had experienced lots of trauma, I realized that these love languages actually could be problematic and one would not ever get to know what their love language is if they do not heal their trauma!
Have you had that partner where you do everything and nothing seems to work for them? Then years later you meet them and someone else is doing the exact thing you did and now it is working? Well, they may have healed and now it all works!
The love languages in the eye of Trauma:
Trauma can take many forms, physical, emotional, spiritual, energetic etc. It can also be inherited or generational and passed down at birth. So when we do not devote some time to heal our conscious and unconscious trauma, it blocks us in ways that prevent us from functioning at our full potential.
Now what has this got to do with the love languages?
1. Acts of service: A person does things for other people as a way of expressing their love. It fulfils them and refuels them. Doing acts of service for this person could also replenish their energy. However for a child, whose love language is acts of service if adults in his/her life never appreciated their actions and instead, responded with harsh words or beatings, this can be traumatizing.
Have you been in a situation where a child “cleans the table” by spreading their food everywhere? Or disorganizes a room you just tidied and proudly tells you that they just organized it? That is an act of service! But how do you respond? So if the child tries several “acts of service” and they all are met with negativity, this can mess up their love language. It becomes a hate language!
In a relationship, this person may struggle to do things for their partner because in their subconscious, they do not think it will be good enough.God forbid if they tried and their partner did not appreciate! They just shut down and not bother! This is when we hear partners complaining of their boos never doing anything!
2. Words of Affirmation: This is a tough one! Some people thrive on words. They will also use words to affirm their partners but if it’s not the partner’s love language, it wont mean anything. But again, it will fuel the one saying them as long as the words are not brushed aside! If they are that can cause some issues in the relationship as well as if they are not heard back!
Now, drifting back to childhood…if a child’s love language is Words of Affirmation and yet the adults in their lives do not give them an opportunity to speak, that causes trauma! Chances are, that this adult will not even speak words of affirmation into this child! How then can this child be expected to develop their love language?
I recall my childhood, we were told, children are to be seen but not heard. We were not expected to speak until spoken to. In class, we had to raise our hand to speak and god forbid if it was the wrong answer! The beatings ensued! This trauma would definitely affect how this child will express their love language!
3.Gifts: This is a tricky one! If one never really received gifts as a child, either due to poverty or simply living in conditions where giving or receiving gifts was not possible, developing this love language can be difficult!
Again during my childhood, we only received necessities. Either we got clothing and shoes for school or church, period! Even when someone gave us money, if we used it to buy a forbidden thing such as sweets, we got our beatings. We not only learned to not give, but also not receive gifts! As a grown up, I love gifting, but I do not care for receiving gifts! In fact, I will go out and get myself what I want/desire but I d not care for having it from others. If my children ask for what I want for birthday, or Christmas, I feel guilty saying what I want! I probably have some trauma hiding somewhere around this haha!
So in a relationship, one may wonder why their partner struggles to spend on themselves, or even gift them something. Some people will never even get their partner’s sizes right which shows how deep that gifting trauma can go!
4.Quality Time: Again, if the person didn’t have anyone spend quality time with them, how can this love language even develop? If they were locked up, or the adults never even put time aside for the children how would this even work?
I was raised by working parents. But we were also not allowed to have friends over or go out and hangout with friends! Thank God I went to boarding school, but again, I have lots of traumatic experiences from there! My real friends weren’t in boarding school, and I had to sneak out to meet them!
As an adult, when my husband and I were dating, we used to hang out with his male friends and they would ask him why he always had me in tow! They would spend their after hours time hanging out and go home well beyond 11pm! I was cool hanging out with him coz guess what, this is my love language. I love hanging out with him and with me. ALONE! I treasure my alone time because I do lots of quality stuff!
For a person whose love language is quality time, if they cannot find quality things to do during alone time, things that fire them up, they get bored! Heard of bored people? It gets worse if their partner doesn’t care for hanging out with them! And again, if one was always pushed to engage in activities they didn’t care for and preferred alone time, that forced engagement can be traumatic! They might be non-compliant and punished for it!
5. Physical touch: This is a humongous ones. Some people’s love language is to be touchy feely. And they appreciate being touched in return. You know where I am going with this! Touch can be a turn off for an individual if they have trauma associated with this, whether they recall events around it or not. Some trauma is so deep it gets pushed to the subconscious and other trauma is unperceived by the person, but perceived by the energy body!
If some one endured physical and / or sexual abuse, this one can be very disastrous as a love language! How can you love that which brought you pain? That which brings back traumatic memories and hijacks your nervous system. A LOT of healing has to occur before this person is okay with the touch.
It gets even more complicated if a person did not receive physical affection as a child. The absence of physical affection could mean feelings of abandonment and neglect. This person may struggle to use physical touch as a love language as they may not know their boundaries or may be triggered by any form of touch.
Many a relationship has struggled because of this! One could go from extremely being frigid to another of having no emotional attachment to physical intimacy and so will have it with anyone who wants it! The trauma around touch is quite extreme and if this is your love language and NOT your partner’s you need to pay attention to any healing that needs to occur in this area.
I bring all of this up because I know that couples are usually asked to explore each other’s love languages but as you can see, this can get tricky if there is trauma involved. I would suggest exploring any trauma around each of the love languages for each couple, and actually getting some healing done. As you can see healing is a deep journey that cannot be ignored. This is why I offer opportunities for healing for all individuals.
Written by Dr Miriam Sekandi,
A spiritual and trauma healer
Find more about her at https://www.breakfreezone.com/aboutme/
A version of this post has been shared at https://www.breakfreezone.com/trauma-and-love-languages/