Last week, we promised to identify your love language, and that of your partner. Gary Chapman, the author of The Five Love Languages - How to Express Heartfelt Commitment to Your Mate identifies five basic love languages - words of affirmation, quality time, receiving gifts, acts of service, and physical touch.

Words of affirmation were commented upon by Mark Twain, who said, "I can live for two months on a good compliment." As a lowlier human being than Mr. Twain, I'll venture that we need a few more than six a year. Without a doubt, verbal compliments are a powerful indication of love. Simple, straight forward statements like, "You look sharp" bring wonders. And wonders is what love is all about. As Mr. Chapman writes, "the object of love is not getting something you want but doing something for the well-being of the one you love."

We're not talking flattery here. "Encouraging words" would be a better way to put it. The word "encourage" should be taken to mean "to inspire courage" writes Mr. Chapman. One thing we all need is a little more of it, now and then.

Does your mate have untapped potential in one or more areas of life? How often have you asked yourself that question? That potential might only be waiting to hear your encouraging words. Not words of pressure, meant to drive him or her to do something, but "en-couraging" words. Pressure comes from judgment, and judgment originates in a desire to stimulate guilt. That's not love, that's rejection. In fact, judgment makes intimacy impossible.

What is important to your mate? How often have you asked yourself that question? Inspiring courage in your mate about something that's important to them shows you know, you care, you're with him or her, and you're asking how you can help. "Most of us have more potential than we will ever develop," writes Mr. Chapman, but what holds us back, he says, is that lack of en-couragement.

Kind words express love. "Is there anything I can do for you, tonight?" is a question that would astound you with its answers. Not to mention floor your partner. If your spouse is angry or upset, a soft answer to anything he or she says, without lashing back in choice of word or tone, will soothe the savage beast. Yes, let them tell you of his or her hurt, anger, and perception of events, put yourself in their shoes, see with their eyes and feel their reaction based on their experience, and then, if you have wronged him or her, ask forgiveness. It's easy to ask for and easy to grant, but it's not easy to mean.

And don't keep score. Love has nothing to do with what happened or who won or lost, yesterday. It has everything to do with the here and now, and tomorrow. It is a promise of things to come, not a life sentence. When you confess a failure, you can do nothing more to mitigate the hurt your partner felt. "I can't believe you did that," after the fact, are words of bitterness, resentment and revenge, not love.

It would be interesting to approach our capacity for forgiveness from the perspective of a commitment, as opposed to a feeling. Choosing to show mercy, which is a lordly characteristic, allows you to keep things that happen to come between you and your partner. You both learn from the experience, so you can't have failed. You're partners and you go on. Up the ladder or down the ladder, it's up to you.

Words of affirmation are also humble words. They're requests, not demands. "You know that crumbly-topped broccoli dish you make, the one with the bacon alfredo di lorno sauce you make? Could you make that for me, tonight?" can just crumble your partner. "Haven't had that broccoli alfredo di whatshisname lately," won't get you anywhere but Resenthemland.

When you make a request of your partner, try it from the perspective of affirming his or her worth and abilities. That tells them, in no uncertain terms, that they have something or can do something that is meaningful and worthwhile. "Your mate may choose to respond to your request or to deny it," writes Mr. Chapman, "because love is always a choice."

"The deepest human need is the need to feel appreciated. That statement, and words to that effect, have been said by psychologist William James and several other philosophers. There can be no doubt about them. The sad fact is that we're not taught much about them, in school, early enough to make them amount to something for the vast majority. Try telling someone a positive thing or two about your partner, when he or she is not present, and see what happens.

Try this exercise. Sit down with your partner, each of you with a pad and pencil, and write down the activities and other things they do that make you feel positive in your relationship. Twice a week, take one positive trait and express your verbal appreciation of it. And you're not allowed to respond to one of those compliments with one of your own. You have to accept it and thank them for it.

Author's Bio: 

he Publisher of HomeBizNews, Lorne Peasland, is a former advertising agency owner and national media consultant, the founder and past-president of the Canadian Home & Micro Business Federation, and author of "Influencing Public Opinion - A Communications Primer For Political Candidates, Community Activists, and Special Interest Group Spokespeople" (ISBN 0-9697364-0-1). He is a home-based marketing consultant, writer and speaker, and can be contacted through either of his web pages at
http://www.accept.ca/homebiznews/lorne.html or
http://www.accept.ca/homebiznews/pms2.html, via e-mail at
lorne@pacificcoast.net., or by phone at 250-708-0250.