Something I learnt during my first Wicca course – I did a beginners diploma and am two thirds through the advanced – was about The 5 Love Languages. Basically, and I’m interpreting it myself here – there are five different types of giving and receiving love, and we all mostly veer towards one or two of them.
For instance, I respond most positively to acts of service and love being taken care of with cups of tea and someone cooking dinner for me. My husband, it turns out after making him do a quiz, is all about quality time. Something that is both surprising and completely heartwarming. I honestly would have put him firmly in the physical touch category.
I think about the love languages a lot and I think about love a lot, too. Before I’d really experienced it romantically, properly, it was all I ever thought about. I knew the love of a mother and best friends, perhaps but not true, undiluted passionate love. What I didn’t realise is that it’s not like the movies and it isn’t all angsty rain-drenched emotion either.
Somewhere along the line – and I’m not sure where – I got it into my head that pain and anguish was all part of being in love and the harder you worked, the bigger the pay off would be. While this may be true of career and aspiration, now I’m in a healthy relationship I know I was completely insane to be thinking it should apply to relationships.
My last relationship left me scarred in ways I could never have expected. Even now when I find myself over-apologising or doubting myself, I know these are hangovers from being gaslit for six years (I was going to type ‘from allowing myself to be gaslit’ – and that, my friends, is a direct result of GASLIGHTING). While I’ve left it all behind me now and I don’t think about it much anymore, when I display those negative qualities, I have to stop and listen to my inner voice, which tells me that it’s not me speaking.
The above experience has not defined me but the way I’ve recovered and the way I’ve forgiven myself is a massive part of who I am now. I’m proud of how I’ve moved on, how I’ve learnt to accept love and I’m pleased I can now examine this topic without the rose-tinted heart-shaped glasses.
I know now that all the pain I felt, all the despair – it wasn’t all part of a bigger picture. Loving something that gives you nothing back, that makes you walk on eggshells and emotionally abuses you to the point you can’t take anymore of this life – there’s nothing romantic about that – and a ‘thing’ that can treat you like that doesn’t love you, let alone understand love.
Love – loving and being loved – is important to me. It’s the most important thing of all but now I’m older and wiser, I feel like I can see the strings. It isn’t about anguish and it isn’t one sided – it’s about mutual support, kindness, intimacy – and romance isn’t all massive public displays (though it can be). Having a bath run for me or a hot water bottle made up when I have period pains is my idea of sweet loving.
It’s still hard work but there’s more to this whole thing than what we’ve read in books and seen Gwyneth Paltrow experience on the big screen. It’s not always easy but it shouldn’t be that hard either. I love the life I share with my husband and sometimes it’s all so simple. Other times we take each other for granted and we need to be reminded why we’re here together. It’s like anything you love, you need to keep taking care of it.
And I guess this is where understanding the love languages comes in. Being more aware of your partner’s wants and needs just means you can throw them a bone every now and again. While I’m an acts of service kind of girl, Glynn has different needs – and I could always be more conscious of the things that make him happy. To realise all he wants is time together is lovely but of course I knew it already, I just thought he’d choose sex over everything. It’s good to be continually surprised and impressed by your partner in crime.
So, the love languages, what are they exactly? You can read about them yourself via the links below but I’ve padded them out in my own words, as I understand them.
Words of Affirmation
Encouragement, verbal appreciation, active listening, affirmations and positive reinforcement.
The Words of Affirmation language is spoken through texts, little notes and cheer-leading. Empathy is key and so is taking the time to actually listen (sounds like bliss!), while non-constructive criticism and failure to acknowledge and appreciate effort is a big no no.
Uninterrupted and focused conversation. Critical one-on-one time.
Creating special moments, taking walks and doing the small things, this is the way forward with a QT cutie while long stints without time together does not wash.
A few words on QT since this is my love’s love language:
In (sloppily) researching this topic and learning Glynn’s LL, I feel a little shitty about being on my phone when we watch films together and not always taking proper time to actually catch up – AKA. living together and over the last five months, through a pandemic in which we’ve been 95% just the two of us. It’s not an excuse but it is easy to let things slip.
It’s nice to know there are some very practical and real things I can do to remedy this. I’ve got Monday off work so I might take him on a little jaunt through the fields across the road. There’s an operational camera obscura a few minutes from our house that we’ve been meaning to check out.
Thoughtfulness, making your spouse a priority, speaking purposefully.
Thoughtful gifts and gestures, small things that speak volumes and expressing gratitude when giving gifts, these are the ways of the Gifts lover.
I mean, everyone loves gifts, right? But it’s nice to learn that it’s not all about material possessions with this language, it runs a little deeper than you’d think. And the way to piss them off? Oh, just forget special occasions (me) and be unenthusiastic in your present receiving (never).
Acts of Service
Use action phrases like “I’ll help…”. Act like a partner and on their side.
Doing chores together (or for…), bringing breakfast in bed – basically going out of your way to make daily life easier for Acts of Service is it. What isn’t is putting others needs above theirs (travesty) and lacking follow-through on tasks big and small.
This is me:
I knew this was me even before I did the quiz and Glynn knew this was me before I confirmed it. I think the fact we both know this is incredibly telling and I have mixed feelings about it. The plus is that I know myself so well, the minus: well, surely this makes me a selfish, lazy bitch? In fairness, that is accurate.
I give generously emotionally but I like to be taken care of by my man servant, what can I say? It doesn’t mean I can’t take care of myself or that I don’t take care of him – it’s just – what says I love you like a hot bubble bath run just for me? Nothing!
Non-verbal communication, using body language and touch to empthasise love.
This isn’t even about sex, it’s about intimacy: hugs, kisses, showing physical affection on the regs. It’s about making time to be intimate together and it makes perfect sense. Physical neglect, coldness and long stints without intimacy is not the one.
A few words on Physical Touch:
I’m ashamed to admit that I got 0% on the love languages quiz in this category. I think this is quite terrifying. It is NOT that I don’t enjoy physicality, affection or intimacy, it’s very important to me – it’s just that the questions frame it so you chose what you prefer – and I’ll always prefer dinner being made for me. LOL.
Joking aside, I think I need to work on this area because I would not like to be thought of as cold and un-affectionate. I love spooning, I love hugs and falling asleep together. I guess I just need to show it more.
How do the love languages relate to Wicca? Well, alongside love spells – which I haven’t tried yet – understanding and practicing them are another way of keeping your relationship alive and well. I’m not an expert by any stretch, in witchcraft or relationships but I guess anything that focuses you on the one you love is a good thing. I’m going to do more reading on the subject because I find it very interesting.
So, what’s your love language?
Excuse the serious post prefacing all the fun Halloween fodder but I wanted to put this together following a conversation I had this morning with my husband.
He was telling me about a woman who went to prison for murdering her husband with a hammer. She’d been driven to breaking point by his behaviour and maybe then this behaviour didn’t have a name. It does now, a word bandied around a lot in the media at the moment: gaslighting.
It’s taken me a while to get my head around the definition of this word and now I have, it’s brought up a lot. In relation to the news story, a change in law to recognise gaslighting as a legit form of abuse has affected the sentence this poor woman has been serving. Turns out this man had been manipulating her and making her think she was crazy from the start. I hope they release her because she could so easily be me.
Just in case you’re not aware, a definition:
Gaslighting is the systematic attempt by one person to erode another person’s reality, by telling them that what they are experiencing isn’t so – and, the gradual giving up on the part of the other person. ~ Dr. Robin Stern, author of The Gaslight Effect
For me that statement rings so familiar, in particular the latter point. My greatest shame in life is how far down I fell as a result of a very bad relationship. Rock bottom. I woke up eventually on the ground, looking upwards thankfully but it would have been such a relief and so easy just to take that final step and just let go.
Of course my experience is in no way as extreme as the woman in this story but that’s the point. Control and manipulation can be so insidious, so commonplace within a relationship that you don’t even recognise it. It’s like a slow gas leak, pumping poison into your self-worth.
The man I lived with cheated but told me I was paranoid when I found nude photos on his phone. He’d emotionally blackmail me into doing things sexually that I definitely wasn’t comfortable with (pictures, public places). When we went to Barcelona he managed to get me to go topless on the beach by going on and on until I felt I had no choice (I cried secretly because I felt so bad about my body then and he knew it).
Often he’d remind me I was very lucky he didn’t hit women – that I needed psychiatric help, and my own mother agreed with him (my mother despised him and would never have entertained a conversation alone with him, yet still I believed him). He’d project every single one of his insecurities and fears onto me and that’s the crock – I believed him. I questioned myself. I lost the will to live and I stopped fighting.
What’s more I believed that I loved him, that no relationship was worthwhile if it wasn’t difficult. Hindsight is a wonderful thing and the thought of him now sickens me to the core. Much as I wish it wasn’t true I still bear the light scars of that relationship – but more than that: I still have work to do on forgiving myself.
I feel like a different person now and my strength probably comes from this experience but I’m glad there’s a term for it now. Or at least that I understand it. I don’t share this to be all woe is me. Many (too many) women will see themselves in these stories but we need to talk about our experiences when we can, to ensure that none of us feel alone in the things we’ve survived.
So when snobs get all high and mighty about a show like Love Island I tell them to shush because at least it’s educating the next generation on what to look out for. Maybe I’d have got out sooner or not gone in at all, if I’d know more about it then.