Lisa brings her husband Nick back to the podcast to talk about love languages – the different acts that people use to show love, or need in order to feel loved, and how understanding (or misunderstanding!) each other’s love languages can impact a relationship.
Prefer to read? Here’s the transcript:
Lisa: Hi everyone, and welcome to another episode of Small Steps Living: The Podcast. I had a ridiculously huge reaction to the episode that I recorded, with my husband Nick, about his side of the wholefoods journey. I actually can’t believe the amount of people who wrote, saying how refreshing it was to hear from a guy. Yes. So, it made me think, ‘What else could Nick talk about?’ And something that we’re both really, really passionate about is keeping it real. And knowing that there’s a lot of BS that you see on social media. Social media is a highlights reel. My Facebook page is a highlights reel, and as much as I try to keep it real, people definitely never see the full side of the story.
So, Nick and I decided-, and, you know, with his permission, actually, because I didn’t want to talk about our relationship without letting him know that I was about to do that. Last year I actually did a Facebook Live on the fact that 2015 had been a really tough year for us, and then I, sort of, shared a little bit about how we’d come through it. So, I thought that what we could do is, Nick and I could put together a few episodes of some of the things that helped us turn things around, after the crazy year that was 2015. Probably, as we’re talking, you’ll hear a little bit more about what actually happened that year, and why we needed to turn it around. But, the most important thing is the small steps that we took. So, hey Nick.
Nick: Hey, Lees.
Lisa: Welcome back.
Nick: Thank you, and I’m surprised you are advertising it as in, ‘We’ve turned a corner.’ I still think we’re totally in it.
Lisa: We are a complete work in progress, but we’ve definitely come a long way from the end of 2015.
Nick: All I see is new crevices on our faces.
Lisa: Oh, you’re harsh!
Nick: And bigger sleep-deprived eyes.
Lisa: Oh, get out. Look, the fact of the matter is, we’re aging.
Lisa: Gracefully. Yes, no, when we were down in Melbourne recently, actually, it might have been my sister, who was like, ‘Nick is just, you know, he’s improving with age. What’s with that?’ And I was like, ‘Yeah, I know. It’s so annoying.’
Nick: I think it’s the Queensland sun.
Lisa: Well, the Queensland sun isn’t working for me, and my Irish skin, thank you Dad! Anyway, let’s head on into it. Today, we wanted to share with you a book that we actually had been directed towards, from, I think it was my bestie, Danielle.
Nick: Someone who saw the desperation.
Lisa: No, years ago, I think it was still when we were living in Sydney. We lived in Sydney for five years, after we left Melbourne, and we’d been in Brisbane for four-and-a-bit years. And, you know, years, and years, and years ago, the start of our relationship. Or, probably, like, the first year of marriage, she’s like, ‘Lisa, you need to read the book “Love Languages.”’ Or was it called “The Five Love Languages’?
Nick: Yes. The Five Love Languages and How to Express Heartfelt Commitment to Your Mate, by Gary Chapman.
Lisa: I’m so glad that you are a researcher, and come prepared to these things. Thank you.
Nick: It’s better than winging it, Lees.
Lisa: I’m a winging it kind of gal. So, Love Languages. At the time that we read it, it did kind of blow our minds, because we both thought that we were trying really, really hard.
Nick: Hard for each other, but always missing the mark in some strange way.
Lisa: Yes. And what Love Languages is about is, and you can help me out here, it’s basically a book that explains that we all want to receive love in different ways. So, different things mean ‘someone loves me.’ And what tends to happen is, the way that we like to receive love is the way that we give, or try to show, love, and it might totally miss the mark. So, do you want to read out the different love languages?
Nick: Yes, okay. So, the book advertises five separate love languages, and the book also claims that these five are exhaustive. In other words, they cover all bases. The first one is receiving gifts. The second one is quality time. The third is words of affirmation. The fourth is acts of service or devotion, and the fifth is physical touch.
Lisa: So, to break those down for you. Receiving gifts? I think we all know the people who love being showered with gifts, you know? Who, when someone brings home a bunch of flowers, they’re like, ‘Oh my God, you’re amazing. I love you.’ We all know people like that, who want the diamond rings.
Nick: Absolutely, and you’d probably notice that that particular person in your life is the same person that will go all out and give amazing gifts as well.
Lisa: Yes, they’re the people who think a lot about gifts to give you. So, if that’s their love language, you know, just buy them a bunch of flowers. Or buy them, you know, I don’t know-,
Nick: A new car.
Lisa: Oh yeah, right. Lucky neither of us are the ‘receiving gifts’ people. Quality time is the other one. So, I mean, that pretty much speaks for itself. It means that hanging out, just being with each other, is how that person wants to receive love.
Nick: Yes, and there are many different types of quality time. It might just be that sitting on the couch with your partner while you’re watching some corny-,
Nick: Yes, some corny episode on Netflix, is absolutely enough, full stop. It just gives you the space to know that someone is there, that you love, providing safety, comfort, and a willingness just to sit by your side.
Lisa: I reckon-, I mean when I first read it, I thought you’re a ‘quality time’ person. You definitely like to be heard, just to have a chat, and without that chat, without that space to just, kind of, ramble, you feel a bit lost.
Nick: Definitely, and I think that was one of the biggest challenges we had in the 2015 year, and last year, as life gets more hectic and the rubber really hits the road.
Lisa: I mean, kids don’t allow you to hold a conversation, so we basically can’t properly talk during the day. And then at night, especially in 2015, much less in 2016, I was so buy and out of control with work that I’d open my laptop, and that space just disappeared.
Nick: I felt that that year, in my mind, if I reflect on it, was just a year of post-it notes. Not literal post-it notes, but I’ve got to put that in the back of my mind, stick that post-it note in the back of my brain, so I can retrieve it when we have quality time, to then discuss it again.
Lisa: Yeah right. I never heard you say it like that. And the time just never came. Hence, explosions.
Nick: Yes, explosions of post-it notes all over the vacuum of my mind.
Lisa: Oh, dear me. Oh, he’s a poet. And the next one is words of affirmation. So, that’s like being told, ‘I love you.’ Hearing it, being told, like, ‘Thank you for that dinner, that was amazing.’
Nick: I certainly think that one is probably your number one?
Nick: I’ve always thought that you, Lisa, are an eternal optimist, because you’re always saying nice things to me. And I’m like, ‘You don’t have to flower the situation, or provide me confidence, and compliments, all the time.’ But little did I realise that’s because you were pining for that in return.
Lisa: Yes, I was like, ‘Why doesn’t he just say it?’ And I thought, because I couldn’t hear him say, ‘I love you, you’re amazing.’
Nick: I’ve said that before.
Lisa: You have, you say it a lot now. But when we first found out about these things, I was like, ‘You see, all you just need to do is just say it. Even, like, you know, you can write songs, and write one for me.’ Because I just love hearing it. So, if you’re a words of affirmation person, you know that receiving a compliment from that person that you love can put you on a high for days. You just don’t forget it. And you also know how you can just feel like you’re guessing as to whether there’s love in the air, if you’re not actually, literally, hearing it. So, the next one is acts of service. Oh, acts of service. So, this is when people do things for you. And I think traditionally, guys are actually really good at this. And this is so gender gross, but, like, ‘I’ve mowed the lawn. I’m working for the family.’ You know, I’m doing the things. And I think, you know, I’m a bit like that too. Like, ‘I’m raising the kids,’ you know, this is my act of service. Or if I put a meal out, and it’s not appreciated. Or, like, no-one notices that that washing goes out, it comes in. You know, back in the day, when I used to do all the washing by myself. But you’re a Ninja at the washing these days. Yes, it’s like, you know, ‘Is no-one noticing what I’m doing here?’
Nick: Yes, and that’s a really interesting point, because often our acts of service as a couple are directed not just to each other, but towards the little people as well.
Lisa: Like, the greater good.
Nick: Yes, the greater good, that’s right. So when you do something wonderful, such as another lovely meal, and I do something wonderful such as all of the piles of ironing.
Lisa: You don’t iron, you put the washing out, and take it in.
Nick: We’re doing it for the greater good. But, does it hit the mark with the other person directly, unless communication happens about why we’re doing these things?
Lisa: Would you say you’re ‘acts of service’? Because I’m totally acts of service. Like, when you’re doing shit around here, I’m like, ‘This is the best, I love you!’
Nick: I do think I am, and this is the interesting thing about the book. As I said before, it claims to be exhaustive, so these five elements are exhaustive. But it also says that you’ve got one dominant one, and then a second one following close behind. I don’t necessarily believe that categorically. I think that your love languages can probably be ranked from one to five, and I also think that they could change over time, as well.
Lisa: Yes. Oh, definitely. Definitely. I absolutely agree that they can change over time. So, we’ve gone through receiving gifts, pretty obvious. Quality time. Words of affirmation. Acts of service. And the final one is physical touch.
Nick: Now, I know everyone’s going to some corny ‘70s love story right now, about two teenagers in a forest, touching each other for the first time.
Lisa: (Laughter) no-one was thinking that!
Nick: No, you didn’t go there? Okay, can we re-record this?
Lisa: How do you even come up with that shit? So, physical touch is, like, well, it is what it says, and it can mean anything. It can mean sex, it can mean massages, it can mean holding hands. Whatever it is, but for some people, that physical aspect of being in a loving relationship is really important. And, you know, I’ve got friends who are like, ‘Oh, Lisa, no-one has sex any more.’ So maybe they’re in relationships where physical touch isn’t-, you know, no-one’s love language is physical touch. They can just sit, they can be, they can get around town, they can buy each other awesome gifts, and deck their house out with awesome stuff, whatever it is, and physical touch isn’t a love language. I don’t think that’s the case, necessarily, in our relationship. And I think, it was probably, you know, with the kids and stuff, it’s one of the things that I think can definitely fall off the radar. And I know for me, now, having, sort of, I guess, through the baby-making years of being pregnant, and breastfeeding. Which was about six years, back-to-back, all up. You know, it’s cool to, kind of, rediscover that part of our relationship again.
Nick: Yes, I absolutely agree, and am enjoying it. But, you know, as a male, I’ve met plenty of men in my time that don’t really regard physical touch as an important love language. Not that we talk about love languages together. I mean, I would love to, and I’ve tried.
Lisa: You can talk to all of our listeners.
Nick: But it doesn’t necessarily rate because you’re a male. And the other point, from my perspective, anyway, is physical touch is much more than just sex. You touched on it before, you know, massages, or just sitting on the couch and just touching one person’s arm, or hand. What I find really, really important in our relationship is the random, fleeting, physical touch moments, where the kids are eating breakfast and making a mess of the house. And before I might go off and catch the bus to work, there is a random embrace. You know, a random cuddle, or something like that. It’s those things.
Lisa: And an arse grab, probably, in there as well.
Nick: Yes, you doing it to me.
Nick: But what I find is, it’s those small ones that can aggregate into enough of, to fill your tank.
Nick: It doesn’t just have to be this, like, massive sex party on a Saturday night, do you know what I mean?
Lisa: No. It can be that, but, yes. I know, definitely, it’s funny. When we realised that things had gone too far off what we’re happy with, like, when 2015 hit the fan, really. We started to think about love languages, because what I realised was, I wanted to be filling up Nick. You know, in the easy ways that I know would let him know, you know, ‘I’m back, I’m here, I love you.’ And one of the things which he really likes, which our middle child also adores, like, she will literally put my hands on her back, lift up her top, and let me stroke her back. She just loves that really, really gentle touch. And so does Nick, like, in his elbow, or, you know, it can be the kids all around us, on the bed, and jumping on us, and, you know, waking up in the morning, and coming in. You know, just that really gentle touch. It’s not sexual, or anything like that, it’s just a loving touch. And so it was just one of the really easy ways, that I know, if I do that, you’re like, ‘Ah. Oh, I’ll get the brekkie on.’ Because you’re trying to then fill up mine.
Nick: Yes. So, you’re rigging the system, it seems, Lees.
Lisa: I 100% am.
Nick: So, of those five love languages, it’s interesting to note that they’re all bloody cheap, if you want. You know, it’s free.
Lisa: Yes, it doesn’t cost anything. Well, gifts, gift giving, maybe. You could make stuff.
Nick: Well, that’s relative.
Lisa: Yes, yes. Like, I mean, the amount of times that Nick has bought me home a bunch of flowers, in our many years, I reckon I could count on one hand.
Lisa: But it’s lucky, because gift giving is not my game either. Like, we’ve forgotten our wedding anniversary. Like, how many years have we even been married?
Nick: Well, enough to need love languages.
Lisa: That was probably the first bloody year. So, we just wanted to share this with you, and we’re going to share a few more things. Maybe this is, like, the little ‘Nick and Lisa’ series, or something. I don’t know. But, we hope it’s helpful. If you have not read that book, get it from your library, buy it. You can probably get an audio book of it these days, I don’t know.
Nick: You can, and there’s a re-edition on Amazon. I think it was published in 2015.
Lisa: Oh man, we need the upgrade.
Nick: And it’s always, like, a New York Times bestseller. It’s been like that ever since 2009. But also, this particular book has spawned many Love Language books by the same author. If you’re struggling with your children, trying to understand their love language. Singles, as well, there’s a Love Language book dedicated to single people.
Lisa: When we decided on this topic, I was actually was like, ‘Man, why have we never thought about this with our kids?’ Or have we thought about it? I think, maybe, we just respond to our children in ways that we know matter to them, and all our kids are really different in this regard, with their love languages. Because there was a really, really great quote that we heard from a marriage counsellor guy. It was an article, and Nick shared it with me, and it was this marriage counsellor, and he said, ‘Basically marriage is like jumping into a canoe and facing upstream in the Mississippi river. And if you don’t paddle, you are going to be going to be going straight out to sea. And you don’t want to be going out there, then you’re just roaming free. A shark’s going to eat you.’ So you’ve got to paddle, and you literally have to paddle every single day.
And marriages are exactly the same. So you need to, kind of, love bomb your marriage every day. Think about something that you can, you know, do for the other person, or add that love in. And he said, you know, he’s a marriage counsellor, and he didn’t have, you know, a perfect marriage. He had to work on it, every single day. And having a reference point like love languages, to think about really easy ways that you can, I guess, get a new reference point for what would actually make a difference to your partner, and do those things, is a cool way to paddle.
Nick: Absolutely, and if anything, it will just help to shake things up a little bit, as well. So, trying a couple of new things, maybe based around those love language elements, all of a sudden creates a new dynamic that, perhaps, was in hibernation for a number of years. And that, to me, creates real strength and sophistication in, probably, a relationship that has been around a little while.
Lisa: Yes. Strength and sophistication, I like it. And you think we haven’t come far. Get out of town!
We hope that was helpful, and always happy to read your feedback. You can actually find this episode on the smallstepsliving.com website, if you head to Blog and Podcasts, you’ll see it as the latest episode. And we’d love to read your comments. If you’re listening to this on iTunes, don’t forget to subscribe, and you will be sent notification of all the new Small Steps Living podcasts as they come to air. We would also love reviews on iTunes. Well, I say ‘we.’ I mean me. It’s my podcast, Nick’s just here for a good time. And if you like what you’re hearing, then leave a review, and let others know. I’d really appreciate it. Thank you Nick.
Nick: Thank you Lisa.
Lisa: Let’s go up and watch Four Corners.
Nick: Okay. Bye everyone.
Lisa: See you guys.