Success in any relationship depends on whether or not you're able to hear unspoken language. For example, does your girl want you to open the door for her as a grand gesture of chivalry, or would she rather do it herself to assert her feminine strength and independence? Do a dozen red roses tell her you love her, or would she rather have a single daisy from your backyard? Now, you may not see the difference (although the daisy sure costs a lot less), but she sees small subtleties, picking up a distinct message.
If you and your special someone really want to understand each other, you need to know about "love languages."
In the last couple decades or so, there has been a lot of talk about love languages — a movement begun by Dr. Gary Chapman, author of "The 5 Love Languages." A love language is simply the way a person interprets actions or words, assigning meanings to those actions or words based on his experiences and values.
Discover your partner's love language. For example, does he feel loved when you buy him gifts, spend time with him or have long talks? Maybe he feels loved when you do acts of service for him or actually tell him those three magical words out loud — "I love you." As a couple, ask each other what actions you each can do to communicate your love. On the flip side, find out what behaviors send the message "you're not important" or "I just don't care anymore." Encourage your partner to be specific.
Asking these questions is a good first step. Be genuine, and your partner will be flattered and eager to teach you. Now, you may get a girl who is insulted by your questions and says something like, "Well, if you don't know my needs, there's no hope for us!" Yes, she's being dramatic, but her reaction may just be to test your sincerity. If she thinks your lack of mind reading skills means that you don't love her, just explain that you want to make sure you get things right because you truly want to please her. If she sees that you're sincere, she'll soften and open up her heart. Some women simply don't know how to tell their men what they want.
When my husband and I were first married, I began our life together by doing all the things I thought the perfect wife should do (based mostly on what I saw my parents do, what I read in books or observed on TV). I baked cookies and gourmet meals. I fussed over little things around the house. When I didn't get the grateful reaction I'd expected, I decided to find out what my husband really wanted in a wife. He didn't want all the sweets in the house to tempt his waistline, and he said he'd rather have a simple meal if it meant I was in the kitchen less and with him more. What a revelation! We wrote lists of what we both thought made "the perfect spouse" and were equally surprised at how differently we ranked various efforts.
Find out how your partner feels loved. Does she hear the words "I love you" when you bring her flowers or chocolates out of the blue, or do those words ring loud and clear when you volunteer to wash the dishes or do a load of laundry? (Hint: most women really want help with housework!) You may think you're supposed to buy an expensive gift for her on Valentine's Day (mostly because the ads on the radio tell you so), but maybe what she really wants is a handmade card that features your wit and charm or an hour of your undivided attention.
On second thought, you'd better show up with at least one flower — just in case. We don't want you to end up sitting in the dugout. A flower and a card really are the bare minimum on Valentine's Day. That's your head's up.
It's all about expectations. You two come from different backgrounds and life experiences, so your expectations are probably different. Find out what your partner hopes for and expects — then, write it down. And get that eraser out, because expectations will change as he or she changes and matures. Keep asking for updates.
Here's a simple exercise to get you started. Get all the main stats on your partner. These will come in handy when you're trying to come up with special gifts or acts of service to show your love. Find out your partner's favorite...
Once you determine the things that are important to your partner, incorporate those things into your expressions of love. Remember, it doesn't matter so much what you say or do. It's how your partner interprets your words and actions that determines whether or not he or she truly feels loved and understood. While romance is great, what your partner really wants is to feel supported in the things he or she values most.