Week 3: Love in Translation

You're three weeks into your Relationship Journals journey! Great job.

Understanding how you and how your partner perceives love is key to filling each other's love tank. This week's exercise will help you create a clear account of how you and your partner give and receive love. Watch as Cathryn and Rachel provide you with insights into possible ways your childhood has shaped the way you see love and tips for showing up where your partner is.

This is a great exercise, and we’re excited for you to understand each other better. So share below each other's primary Love Language, and if either of you had "aha" moments while learning each other's Love Language.


Cathryn (00:03):

Welcome back. You are now three weeks in, good job for sticking with us so far. I hope that last week's trip down memory lane helped spark some healthy discussions about what you want for your future. For Week 3, we're going to be discussing love in translation. So understanding how your partner gives and receives love is a powerful tool for giving love that fills your partner's love bank. There's no point in speaking a different language if they're not getting, it's a waste of your time, and they're not going to pick up on what you're putting down. Understanding love languages can help combat misunderstanding. So let's get started and chat to Rachel about why this is so important.

New Speaker (00:43):

All right Rachel, love in translation. This is a great exercise and a lot of times, people come away from this having so many takeaways, because again, it's not something that we learn at school. And a lot of times we have been talking a different language to our partner. And after this exercise, you are going to be on the same page and at least know how to express love effectively. How important is it to express love in a way that it can be received? And what happens for couples when the love can't be trusted?

Rachel (01:14):

Ooh, such a good question. So, expressing love in a way that your partner can receive it is basically as important as speaking the same literal language as your partner. So if one of you was completely fluent in Korean and the other person was completely fluent in Spanish, but both didn't know any other language, those two people are going to have a really hard time communicating, right? We can use like arm gestures, things like that. But a lot is going to get lost. The way that we give and receive love is similar to that. And so somebody could be showering us in gifts and we're like, "Why are you buying me all this crap that I have to put around my home now? Cool." Whereas they think that they're showering us with love, but if gifts aren't our love language, if gifts are not a way that we receive love, it doesn't matter.

New Speaker (02:19):

It's like saying a whole monologue in Korean with the person who speaks Spanish, listening. Like, they're not going to understand what you're saying. So learning how we receive love is so important and it changes, right. We were talking about how things change over time. The way that, you know, I received love as like an 18-year old was very different than how I receive love now. And those things need to change. If I were to be with the same partner, I'm not, if I were to be with the same partner from when I was 18, that person would have had a lot of updating, right? Like we have software updates, same thing. Gotta update.

Cathryn (03:00):

Yeah. And I think as your, as your life changes and your needs change, your love language might change because you have different needs in your life. So for example, when you're 18, maybe it's quality time and maybe it's going out to concerts and you know, or gifts or something like that. And maybe when you're older and maybe you're a mom and acts of service, like helping me with the kids is how I feel loved because I have so much on my plate that I can't handle it all.

Rachel (03:29):

Exactly. Or I see often a lot of people who have children, if their love language was physical touch before, it often alters because their kids are climbing on them all day. And so there's this over sensory of touch and it's no longer the way that they then receive romantic or sexual love. And so that's a great example of things just switch. Things can change as things evolve and we got to communicate this to our partners.

Cathryn (04:00):

I also want to talk about one of the thing and that's how you give love and how you receive love, don't have to be the same either. So maybe you want acts of service, but how you give love is physical touch or it's quality time. Can you talk more on that idea of understanding that just because words of affirmation might be what you like to get, but you're actually not very good at giving words of affirmation.

Rachel (04:23):

Yeah, totally. So a great example, my husband's love language is acts of service and mine is physical touch and those don't mesh, right? So I feel very loved with his hand on my thigh. He doesn't feel super loved if I put my hand on his thigh. I'm feeling loved, he's not. So I need to then consciously what acts of service can I do? How can I show this person love today and knowing what type? Not even just acts of service, but what type?

Cathryn (05:05):


Rachel (05:05):

You know, my female partner, for her, her love language is make my life easier. So if that means putting the shoes away, put the shoes away. If that means running the dishwasher off, it's running the dishwasher off. It's acts of service, but it's in line of ease-filled living, not of just do things for me, right. Like bring me food, it's not that, it's like really making life easier. So everybody has their own flavor even when we get narrowed down into what the love language is. So really learning and again, it's that curiosity hat. It's like, how else do you receive love? What other touches? What other types of services? How can we make this sexy? How can we integrate this part of our relationship? There's a lot of things.

Cathryn (05:57):

I love this idea of make my life easier. I think that's my love language, except I always joke that efficiency is my love language. Like how do we make the mundane as efficient as possible so we have to spend the least amount of time doing it. That, I just love. So you can get into specifics and actually one of the exercises within the Relationship Journal is a cheat sheet almost for your partner of like, these are the things that when you do them, make me feel loved. So there's no guesswork here. There's no like, "Oh, it's acts of service, but what does that mean?" It's like, "Oh, here's exactly what it means. Let's put on the fridge so that we see it every day and we know, okay, I can do this thing and they will feel love." So you're constantly reminding yourself to speak the same language as your partner and then soon it will become second nature. But at the start, if this is not something that you have done before, it's a new habit that you have to kind of get into and understand and integrate into your life so that it becomes habit over time.

Rachel (06:59):

Absolutely. Just like the other things, it's flexing a muscle. It's every time you do it, it gets stronger and stronger and feels more normal, our normal. Yeah. And it becomes easier.

Cathryn (07:12):

What changes have you seen in couples when they've learned each other's love language, know how they both express and feel love, what have you seen happen when this is done successfully?

Rachel (07:25):

I mean, literally the relationship changes. I have watched couples go from the brink of divorce to being like, we're in high school again, and we're going and making out at the movies. We all want to feel loved and we all want to feel special and we want to feel taken care of at times. And when our partners don't know how to make us feel loved, we feel alone and we feel misunderstood. And when they do know, we feel seen, we feel heard, we feel loved and that enables us to show up in the world as our full self. So it's not that I'm putting, you know, the responsibility is always still within oneself to show up as your best self. And when you're receiving love from your partner, think of it as like extra fuel for your life and for your relationship. It's everything.

New Speaker (08:31):

And I would encourage folks to do this, honestly, with everybody in your life, right? Like, relationships are relationships are relationships are relationships. Find out your friends' love languages and flex the muscle that way too, so that you get used to adapting different behaviors to show love differently. So that you feel confident in all of the different areas because I bet if you were to ask a bunch of important people in your life, you'd have a variety of love languages to practice. And so if you're wanting to really flex all of those muscles, you can do it with more than just your partner.

Cathryn (09:08):

Yeah. And I think actually at BestSelf, when people join the team, we have them put in what their love language is. I mean, physical touch, can't really help you a lot there, HR...but with everything else, it's like, if I know that your love language is words of affirmation or quality time, I might act differently than if, you know, if I want to give you props, it might be different for different people, depending on what their love language is.

Rachel (09:36):

Bingo. Bingo.

Cathryn (09:39):

What are some simple ways that you can ensure that you appreciate your partner with their specific love language?

Rachel (09:48):

Literally ask them "What makes you feel appreciated?" because that changes also all the time, right? So, for example, I'm a physical touch love language person, but I feel appreciation through words. So if you come and give me a hug, that does not say, I appreciate you. To me that says, I love you. And those are two totally different things in my human experience. And so for some people they're more linked, for other people they may identify with what I'm saying. So really ask your partner what, in this conversation, within this same container, "What helps you to feel appreciated on top of feeling loved?" And let them brainstorm, let them answer. Maybe it's a text message that says, you know, "Thank you so much for everything today. I really appreciate you." Maybe it's words, maybe it's coming home to a cooked meal after being out filming all day. Right? Like, whatever it is, you can get, it may be different though, different brand than love.

Cathryn (10:55):

Yeah. And I think that's an important distinction is understanding the appreciation. Something in the check-ins that we do is being specific about something that you've appreciated about your partner from the last week. So it's not about, "Okay, they were great last week." It's about, "Oh, I really appreciated when they made dinner this one night", because what that's doing is you're telling your partner what you appreciate and they now don't have to guess, "Oh, did you like that? I wasn't sure." And then they're going to have a rolodex of, "Oh, I know exactly what to do to make them feel appreciated." Because if you keep doing something, the same way if you're speaking a different language, if you're doing something and they're not seeing it or appreciating it, and it's taking a lot of time and effort on your behalf, you're just going to get annoyed over time because you're doing something that's not translating to what they actually want and appreciate.

New Speaker (11:49):

And it's going to save you a lot of time, energy and stress by just getting it out in the open. And something also is, if you create this habit of learning each other's love language and doing specific things to show them you appreciate them, you are both going to be in a much better place mentally to, say you screw something up or something that, you know, maybe months ago, you didn't talk each other's love language, you weren't really connecting because you're talking different languages and then the person does the same thing. And you're already on different pages, that is going to hit a lot harder and be more stressful for the relationship than if you're already doing all these right things and something happens. It's like, you're starting from a place of positivity, which makes this thing that they did, it's just like, "Oh yeah, that was annoying. But we got over it." Whereas if you're in a negative head space and you're feeling more alone, it's like, "Well, this person is trying to screw me over on purpose."

Rachel (12:46):

Exactly, exactly. And what you're describing, I call our emotional bank account, is when we make enough good deposits, there's cushion there to withdrawal. Otherwise, we're going to overdraw. And that's when it starts to feel really yucky and resentful, is when we start to overdraw the emotional bank account. But if we're constantly making deposits, there's so much cushion for those accidental withdrawals or big spends.

Cathryn (13:16):

Yeah, that's a great way to put it. How do you approach a conversation where you tell your partner that you don't feel loved because they're not appreciating you in the way that you can receive it?

Rachel (13:32):

So I would first acknowledge that they didn't know if they didn't know. So if you're sitting down and your partner just learned for the very first time that you receive love through touch, and they've been doing it through acts of service, give some grace. Like, you're learning it today. So try to not take the past and bring it forward to cascade into the future. You can use that as, "Hey, do you remember that time where you made me dinner? I really would have loved for X instead." That's a great example of how I could have felt more appreciated. Focus on the movement forward and the solution, not on the lacks, the withdrawals, the everything else before you even knew the language that you're talking about.

Cathryn (14:26):

Okay. Now I'm curious about this question. Why are some love languages harder to give?

Rachel (14:38):

Ooh. Well, if they feel unnatural to us, it's uncomfortable. So a great example of this is let's say, there's a couple where one person's love language is physical touch and the other person experiences all physical touch with their romantic partner as sexual.

New Speaker (15:03):

It could be hard for that person to relearn touching doesn't mean sex, touching doesn't mean sex, touching doesn't mean sex. And they're going to have a hard time putting their hand on their partner's leg in the car. They're going to have a hard time putting their hand on their scalp because they're going to fear initiating sex because that's the link that they've made. So when we have connections with things like that, it can be hard to give love in that way, because it feels unnatural to who we are or who our experience or what our experiences have been. What we need to remember though, is that our partner receives love in that way. So ask the question like, "Hey, I'm a little scared that if I show you physical touch love all the time, that you're going to think I'm initiating sex. How can we make sure that those are separate?" And asking questions will help you with the discomfort of maybe giving love in a way that isn't natural for you. Or isn't the way that you would typically give.

Cathryn (16:10):

Yeah. One prompt that we have in the journal is just asking how we were shown love as a child, because oftentimes that either is where we get our love language from, or it's the opposite. So if you were never given words of affirmation when you were young, that might be your love language now. My wife, her parents would always give her gifts, and so that became her love language. And then, you know, she evolved from that. But for a while, she didn't understand where that came from and then when we were actually working through the Relationship Journal, it came like, oh, that's where that idea came from, because that's how I got it from our parents. If your parents showed you love by spending time with you, watching TV or playing outside, your love language might be quality time. And so I think understanding our first, as a child, our first sort of view of love and where that came from is a good understanding of, "Oh, this is why I'm like this, or this is why I actually have a hard time with this."

Rachel (17:18):

Yes, yes, absolutely. And give yourself that compassion. You know, if you didn't receive a lot of touch and you're now trying to give a lot of touch, give yourself grace for that and tell your partner that. Let them know you want to try and it's hard.

Cathryn (17:34):

How do you create a ritual to make sure that you're making regular deposits into your partner's love bank account?

Rachel (17:44):

So, pick one thing that you know, is a deposit into your partner's love bank account and schedule it every single week. Start there. Start with once a week, "I am for sure doing X", and then you can build on that as things go. But if you start with once a week, that feels very manageable for most folks. So that's where to start.

Cathryn (18:16):

Yeah. So when you make your to-do list for the week, around work stuff, put a personal thing in there as well, and make sure you do it. All right, last question. What are some of the telltale signs that you've seen that shows someone's love account is low?

Rachel (18:35):

Resentment. That is the number one thing, is resentment. There is an attitude towards the other person of you've been taking from me and not giving. And there's almost like a shut off-ness that happens. And it's out of protection, right? If we're not feeling loved or safe, we kind of withdraw and shut down. So resentment, being withdrawn, shutting down, using absolutes and saying things like "You never da-da-da-da-da." When we're generalizing to like, cause nobody never does anything or always does something, right? Factually inaccurate, impossible. When we hear that language, that's usually like, things have built up for long enough that it feels that way. It feels like that person has never done the dishes even though, obviously at one point in time, they probably did a dish, at some point.

New Speaker (19:46):

So resentment and feeling taken and taken advantage of. And communicating that can be hard. It's also very freeing because when you realize that your partner has been either trying to show you love or that they didn't realize that there was a different way to show you love, you can start to break down that wall. But naming that is important and letting your partner know, like "I have a little resentment around this and I want to work to heal that."

Cathryn (20:22):

Awesome. All right. Well, those are all the questions that we have for today. I hope that you and your partner get on the same page with your love language and below this video, let us know what your love language is, what your partner's is. And make sure that when you fill out your sort of cheat sheets for how you feel appreciated and feel love, there's a dash line along the side of the journal specifically so you can cut it out and you can put it on your fridge so that you don't have to remember all the stuff in your head. You have it literally staring you right in the face every time you go to the fridge. So enjoy this exercise. I think you're going to get a lot out of it and I will see you next week.

New Speaker (21:00):

All right, now it's your turn to jump into the homework and do Week 3 of the Relationship Journal. We hope that you have a few light bulb moments during this week's exercise. I promise you, you will not regret it. And if you haven't done this before, prepare to be surprised.