There are five love languages that we need to speak fluently in our marriages and families. Today we start with the first, Words of Affirmation.
What is Words of Affirmation as a Love Language?
Words of affirmation as a love language is the use of positive words and the right tone of voice to express love. Some people crave words of affirmation to feel loved and valued. We use words of affirmation either by verbally showing appreciation for something done, saying encouraging/kind words or giving a compliment. Also, we use it when we verbally praise someone we love in public or tell others about their great attributes.
Words of affirmation don’t have to be verbal only; we can write how we feel. Write them a letter or a note and sneak it into their pockets or handbags. Leave the note on a sticker on the mirror or a place where they will see it. With Social Media, we can put up a post with a picture on your profile page and share our feelings about them. When you praise your spouse in public or their absence, when it gets to them, it amplifies their perception of your love for them. Also, when you get public recognition for something, acknowledge your spouse; that is also a form of this love language.
For spouses who respond to this form of love language, honest words of encouragement or praise are far more excellent motivators for getting them to do more. But mind you, this is very different from using affirmative words to pressure someone to do something you want just because you know words are their weakness. To encourage someone means “to inspire with courage”. This love language deals with the root of insecurity in people because it requires empathy. It usually works as a motivator when someone already has a desire to do something. Sometimes, a few encouraging words may just be what they need to hear to give them that push to do it.
What Words of Affirmation is Not!
Flattery is very different from words of affirmation; this is what we Nigerians like to call “washy”. Washy is saying something nice even when it is untrue. Most times we flatter people because we want to elicit a specific action or reaction from them. We give words affirmation are not because of what we expected but because it is true and rightly deserved. Besides, if I find out someone keeps flattering me, I won’t believe a word they say going forward.
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Sometimes, in a bid to encourage, we end up being judgemental/preachy, using words that stir up guilt and not inspire. Also, keep sarcasm as far away as possible when your spouse finally does something right. Assertive communication of our feelings helps to create a sense of intimacy in the relationship.
Besides, how we express our wants and desires is essential. We might even be saying the right words, but our tone of voice may betray our feelings. Love makes requests, not demands.
Requests show a belief in people’s abilities and sense of worth. It makes them feel important and creates the atmosphere to express our love. Demands, however, snuff out that possibility, resulting in a compliance out of different reasons besides love. Making demands has an air of domination/superiority; it has the power to change the dynamics of the relationship. When a spouse makes constant demands of their partner, it creates the impression that they are not equal in the marriage.
How to avoid manipulation
To avoid total dependence on your spouse to keep your love tank full;
1. Learn to appreciate yourself.
2. Speak positive words to yourself when in front of a mirror. Let your internal dialogue be words of encouragement that fuel your “can do” spirit.
3. Keep genuine people in your circle of trust who will always tell you the truth about things in a respectful, loving way.
Your primary or secondary love language may not be Words of Affirmation, but it is a valid way to express love. So always include it in your interactions with your spouse and other people.