Everyone has a different way to show love. The book ‘The 5 Love Languages,’ by Gary Chapman, explores the five main ways that people demonstrate love. He also explains the importance of knowing your spouse’s or significant other’s ‘love language.’ The things that make you feel most loved and appreciated may not mean as much to your spouse. On the other hand, your spouse may be trying to show their love by doing little things that you aren’t even noticing.
There are many books that offer advice for military life. But few of these books changed my relationship with my spouse. Until I read ‘The 5 Love Languages: Military Edition.’ We both read this book during a deployment, and it gave us so much insight into our relationship. I laughed and I cried as I realized there was an explanation for why my husband and I have been frustrating each other. After reading it, I understood that my own love language is words of affirmation. That’s why writing and letters are so important to me, and any criticism cuts straight to my heart. So I didn’t want his flowers. I wanted a kind note or email. Once we realized that we both express love in different ways, we knew what actions would be most fulfilling and satisfying for each of us. Truly, this book was eye-opening for both of us. It helped us through deployment, but I wish we had read it years ago.
Learning your spouse’s love language is not difficult. The way someone shows love is usually how they want to receive it, too. Think about the way your significant other showed their love when you first started dating. Or, just ask them what things you have done that have made them feel most loved and valued. You may be surprised by their answers. Giving gifts is very important to my husband. He likes to surprise me with little gifts for no reason. But unfortunately, gifts and material things don’t matter very much to me. And I am a horrible gift giver. So, to make my husband feel loved, I have learned to be more accepting of his gifts and to try harder to give little gifts to him.
The book has tons of ideas for each of the five love languages. There are also good questions to discuss with your spouse or significant other. Unfortunately, the love languages are easiest to express when you’re both living in the same house. Long distance relationships and deployments are challenging for every love language. Thankfully, there are always ways to express love, even across the distance.
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Use these ideas to show the 5 love languages during deployments
This is the hardest love language to express during deployment because, obviously, you can’t really touch each other when you’re in different time zones. But that doesn’t mean you should give up! Send your deployed loved one physical reminders of you and your relationship. Any photos are great, but a photo book or collage will become a real treasure. If you are considering sending nude photos, read these guidelines first! Send letters with a lipstick kiss and your favorite fragrance. In care packages, include any small items that will help bring the sights, sounds, or smells of home to the deployment zone. Trace your handprint on a pillowcase so they can hold you close. You could also write emails or letters describing some of your favorite physical moments together. “Remember when we got snowed in, and spent the whole weekend snuggled by the fire?”
Words of affirmation
This love language works well during deployments, as long as you put in the time and effort. If this is your spouse’s love language, then they will treasure every single word from you. Letters, emails, text messages, or any other app you use to communicate will truly brighten their day. Try to write something every day, even if it is just a few sentences about what you did that day or how much you miss them. If you run out of ideas, write down song lyrics that remind you of your loved one. If you don’t want to mail a letter every day, put several days of letters into one envelope or care package. Keep the positive words coming!
“During deployment, know your spouse’s love language so you can help them feel loved across the distance.” ~The Seasoned Spouse
When someone’s love language is gifts, it doesn’t mean that they are greedy or that they want expensive things. It means that they appreciate any little token of love. Any physical thing can become a reminder that you are thinking of them. If I travel somewhere without my husband, I always bring him a postcard, a magnet, or some small souvenir. He even appreciates little rocks or shells we bring back from the beach. These small gifts let him know that we were thinking of him and missing him. Of course, he appreciates anything I send in care packages, so I try to keep them coming steadily throughout the deployment.
Acts of service
This love language is easy to express when you’re living in the same house, but harder when you are separated by great distances. Typically, an act of service for a spouse would be helping with chores or making a special meal. During deployment, acts of service are anything you do to make your spouse’s life easier. So if they are deployed, everything you do to take care of the house, the children, or your job, can be an act of service. When deployment Murphy strikes and you are stuck juggling car repairs and a sick dog, try to encourage yourself by turning these chores into acts of love. Let your deployed spouse know all the little things you do for them, whether it is sending care packages or filing taxes. If you do these frustrating things with a loving attitude, it can make a huge difference in your relationship.
The love language of quality time is all about spending time together without distractions or interruptions. This is the kind of person who is offended if you’re looking at your phone while the two of you are watching a movie. Someone who values quality time craves time and attention from their spouse– things that are in short supply during deployment. If this is your spouse’s love language, make an extra effort to carve out regular times to talk. Whether you use Skype, FaceTime, email, or phone calls, try to be flexible and meet their schedule. This might mean staying up late or getting up very early, depending on their time zone difference. Each couple has to find something that works for them. You can also show your interest in future quality time by planning date nights or vacations for after deployment.
If you want to read the 5 Love Languages Book, I recommend the military edition. It is exactly the same as the original version, but with additional stories and examples from military life.