"I'm desperate," Mark told me when he entered my office. "My wife told me she doesn't love me, and she wants me out of her life. I don't understand. I've been a good husband. We have a nice house and wonderful children. I love Suzanne: I tell her how beautiful and special she is. How can she throw away 17 years of marriage?"
"Has Suzanne ever complained to you?" I asked.
"She says we don't spend enough time together and that we don't talk. But my business is demanding, and when I get home I need down time."
I knew their problem: Suzanne's love language (the way she best understands and receives love) was Quality Time, and Mark hadn't spoken that language. His compliments weren't enough; Suzanne needed his time and attention.
Feeling loved is our deepest emotional need. When that need goes unmet, it weakens our love for our spouse. Then the negative behavior patterns we once overlooked begin to annoy us. That's why Suzanne could say, "I don't love you."
After 30 years of marriage counseling, I'm convinced there are only five languages of love. Each person uses all the languages, but really thrives on one. The better you speak your spouse's love language, the stronger your emotional love life will be. For those unfamiliar with love languages, here's a brief course:
Words of Affirmation.Proverbs 18:21 says, "The tongue has the power of life and death." This language uses words to honor and appreciate your spouse. "You look nice in that outfit." "Thanks for taking out the trash. I really appreciate all the hard work you do."