Love Languages; Post 4

Today we look at another one of Dr. Gary Chapman’s 5 love languages – Physical Touch.

Not hard to see how physical touch can be high up on the priority list for people when it comes to expressing and receiving love. The value of human touch to feeling connected is essential to every relationship, but for some people, the non-verbal expression of love ranks high up on their list of love languages.

It is often interesting to explore how we were in terms of this love language as children – did we actively seek sitting in a parent’s lap? Were we told we liked to be carried a lot as toddlers? Did we seek snuggle time? Although all children appreciate and need touch as part of unconditional love, we often see nuances as to need for affection; this will carry over into our adult lives as well.

Physical touch can range from affectionate gestures such as holding hands, touches as you pass by each other, daily hugs and kisses and back rubs, to an active bedroom life where sexual intercourse plays an important role. The absence of physical touch for someone who identifies with this love language can often make them feel neglected in the relationship.

Tomorrow’s post will explore the 5th love language: Receiving Gifts.

To visit Dr. Gary Chapman’s website:

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Love Languages; Post 3

In our series on The 5 Love Languages by Dr. Gary Chapman, we continue with Words of Affirmation.

When we feel touched by words of affection and compliments that express appreciation, we tend to connect with words of affirmation as a love language. Words can bring about powerful messages and images; perhaps hearing “I love you” is an important part of your daily needs, compliments on your appearance, words of gratitude and appreciation, love notes or texts sent that express affection. When we hear our partner say something positive about us to someone else, it can also boost our appreciation of this love language. Conversely, insults can be notably upsetting to someone who ascribes to words of affirmation.

Words of affirmation may be a part of your chosen love language because you grew up in a home where love messages were heard frequently and saying ‘I love you’ was taught at an early age. It may also be the case that it was not heard in your home and therefore gained importance to you by way of wanting things to be different. In either case, words will place in higher rank for you in receiving and expressing love.

Tomorrow’s post will explore Physical Touch.

To visit Dr. Gary Chapman’s website:

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Love Languages; Post 2

Yesterday we began a series featuring Dr. Gary Chapman‘s theory on the 5 Love Languages. We started by exploring the love language of quality time; today we look at Acts of Service.

Acts of service is about what we do for our partner; it is about the demonstration of love. If acts of service is a way that you know that you are loved, it will include things perhaps such as coming home to a warm cooked meal, being taken care of when you have had a long day, a chore done that you didn’t have to ask to have completed. When our love language is acts of service, it is about how our partner uses forethought to somehow lighten our load; it is a way that we feel cared for and appreciated. What tends to work against this love language is lack of forethought or follow through; if your love language is acts of service, you really appreciate your partner’s ability to think about what you might need in order to communicate how they feel.

So far, we have explored two of the five love languages. It is important to note here that sometimes we don’t fall into only one love language. As we move along in the series, simply notice which ones stand out to you as a way that you either express love, or feel loved by.

Tomorrow’s post will look at Words of Affirmation.

To visit Dr. Gary Chapman’s website:

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Love Languages; Post 1

Dr. Gary Chapman, in his best selling book entitled “The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love That Lasts,” writes about how to use love languages to keep your relationship healthy. Chapman’s theory is that each of us generally sees ourselves in one of the 5 love languages – quality time, acts of service, physical touch, words of affirmation and receiving gifts – and that we primarily give love to our partner in the way we wish to receive it.

It is important, Chapman notes, that we are familiar with both our own love language as well as our partner’s. That way, we can not only learn how to ask for what we need, we can also show love to our partner in the way that they need.

Today’s post will be on Quality Time.

Quality time is as it sounds. It is the act of taking time out of our day to spend with our partner; to carve moments that are spent together despite busy schedules. It can be anything from having dinner together every evening, to an activity that you enjoy doing, a TV show that you dedicate some time to, going to bed at the same time, going for walks, spending time together on the weekends.

If our love language includes quality time, ultimately, we wish for focused conversation and one-on-one time together. Being distracted while spending time together will take away from this process – what really matters to this love language is time well spent.

We have now been introduced to one of 5 love languages; tomorrow’s post will look at Acts of Service.

To check out Dr. Gary Chapman’s website:

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What Boundaries Sound Like

We often speak about boundaries and how important they are in establishing. Sometimes we need to set expectations in our relationships, or at work. Sometimes we need to set boundaries when it comes to saying no, or when we realize that we are not being treated in a way that is respectful.

Clients will often talk about knowing that they need to set boundaries, but struggle with how to say it. This post is all about the how; following are examples of what boundaries can sound like:

“I am not sure that I can commit to that right now. Let me look at my schedule and I will follow up.”

“Let me think about it and get back to you.” – Do you have the time, support and energy to help out? If you do, great. If you don’t follow up with a decline.

“I’m afraid I can’t say yes this time. Keep me in mind for the next time around.”

“I won’t be able to make it this time.” – We don’t always need an explanation as to why, however including one is fine too.

“If you can’t speak to me without (yelling, calling me names), then I am going to end this conversation.” – Then end it.

“I can understand that you’re angry, but I won’t be yelled at.” – Then walk away, or end the phone conversation.

“If you text me, I will text back at a time that works best for me.” – If someone in your life continues to incessantly text, or get angry with you if you don’t answer their text immediately, your boundary may have to be more direct:

“If you continue to disrespect what I have asked, I will block your number.” – Then follow through.

“I would appreciate you not bringing this up anymore.”

“I am going to take some space from this issue. There is no more to discuss.” – If the person continues to try and argue the point, no need to respond.

These are just some examples of what boundaries sound like. A key point to remember is that we need to “reward the effort, not the outcome” as we can set the boundary but not be met with compliance. That is why follow through is so important. Setting boundaries is a wonderful way that we can work from the position of “I am important and so are you,” as we are recognizing our own needs while delivering our expectation in a calm way. Practice, practice, practice. You will be happy you did 🙂

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What it Means to be in a Codependent Relationship

People often think about the word ‘addiction’ when the phrase codependent relationship comes up. And although issues with addiction can create such a relationship, the codependency dynamic can exist at any time that one person is supporting another person in an unhealthy way.

Generally speaking, the partner who is in the caretaking role is providing emotional, financial or physical support; putting someone else’s needs above their own. And the partner on the receiving end, lets them – pulls at them even, creating the space for poor boundaries and the need for the caretaking partner to feel overprotective of their loved one.

When we are in a codependent relationship, we can often recognize that what we are doing for our partner is unhealthy, but our struggle is in letting them struggle. As a result, we begin to eventually feel resentful; feeling weighed down by the responsibility, with little of our own needs being met.

Recognizing the signs of codependency is the first step; creating much needed boundaries while beginning to honour your own needs through self-care are good follow ups. Creating change in a codependent relationship can be very difficult, as the dynamic can create a strong hold and very often, professional help is required.  Codependency threatens the very nature of a healthy relationship which is our ultimate goal; one in which we feel generally satisfied and support is reciprocated.

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Giving Up or Acceptance – What’s the Difference?

In yesterday’s post we looked at the danger of complacency in relationships; today’s post features the question about the difference between giving up and acceptance.

When we are faced with an issue in our lives, I like to say that our choices are one of three – change it, accept it or leave it. Most people will attempt to change it first, and if that doesn’t occur, the process begins of exploring whether to accept it or to leave it. When this comes to the issue of complacency in relationships, there tends to be a lot of gray in that decision. Is complacency enough to leave a relationship? Some might say a definitive yes; others will look at the variables that need to be considered with such a decision such as whether or not there are children involved, the age of the kids, financial considerations, the strength of an external support system and so forth.

When we decide to stay but we have “given up,” it tends to be with resignation and underlying resentment. Feeling forever unsatisfied with our partner’s indifference, we can end up feeling trapped, lonely and pervasively sad about the relationship (hence further contributing to the complacency).

When we decide to stay but our decision is one of acceptance, it is with a different focus. There is some grief to go through, as the sense of loss to a full, healthy relationship is felt. There is a shift to self-care as the understanding grows that what you can’t get from your partner, you must give to yourself – planned outings with friends, an increase in hobbies or interests, continued quality time with the kids. There is the decision that despite the complacency, you will not shut off completely from the relationship; this may seem counterproductive, however we can lean into our own sense of values to continue to be kind.

When we decide to stay and give up, we are choosing self-defeat. When we decide to stay and accept, we are choosing self-growth. There is a big difference 🙂

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The Danger of Complacency in Relationship

Sometimes we can become complacent in our relationships; without realizing it, we can end up underappreciating our loved ones or taking our partner for granted. The honeymoon phase may be over, but rather than the relationship falling into an easy exchange of healthy bids and affection towards each other, the relationship begins to feel empty or stuck.

Knowing what causes complacency is a good place to start in trying to address it:

  1. Indifference. This one is a silent killer of relationships. Sometimes it comes from having an Avoidant Attachment Style, sometimes it comes from lacking true appreciation for the power of a healthy support system – it can also come from the tendency to lean into narcissistic traits. When one person is indifferent to the relationship, there is often very little the person on the receiving end of that indifference can do. The indifferent person must undertake some much-needed soul searching to get to the deeper layers of why they are using indifference as a way to protect themselves.
  2. Being too comfortable.  Being comfortable in a relationship is a good thing – it means we feel settled and secure. Being too comfortable means we are not giving enough thought into keeping that relationship in good working order. In order to keep complacency at bay, we need to keep reciprocity at the forefront of our minds, making sure that we continue to feed the health of the relationship by initiating time spent together, affection, words of endearment, and acts of kindness.
  3. Giving up. Sometimes when we give up in a relationship it is due to the change we wish to see but never do. It is a way of acceptance that the other person is not going to change, and that ‘giving up’ is the only thing left to do. This doesn’t always mean that the relationship ends, but rather elements of the partnership shift; sometimes the act of giving up will inadvertently feed complacency.
  4. Anger. If we use anger as a  go-to emotion, we run the risk of using it instead of trying to deal with more vulnerable emotions such as sadness, guilt or fear. Anger prevents us from truly understanding our loved one’s feelings; over time, the anger reinforces denial and defensiveness which feeds complacency.

When we understand complacency, we can begin to also see the danger it carries along with it. The goal of investment helps us to keep our relationships in a healthy place; ones in which our security and safety is being supported by a deeper, more satisfying love.

Tomorrow’s post will explore a bit more in depth the difference between giving up and acceptance in a relationship we choose to stay in.

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Should We Be ‘Friends’ With Our Children?

We live in an era where we are conscious of our children’s needs; long gone are the days of “children are to be seen and not heard.” We want our children to have a voice, we wish for them to be happy, and we desire to know them as individuals. As they age, we can be tempted to befriend our children; we love who they are becoming and the closeness we feel to them can bring us to the friendship line.

When we become friends with our children, we run the risk of:

  • creating in them a confidante. Children are not equipped to handle our marital issues or family drama and are not meant to carry the weight of adult’s problems.
  • creating in them a mediator. Children are not meant to carry messages back and forth to the other parent; it puts them in an awkward position of seeing their parents’ emotional reactions.
  • creating in them a secret keeper. This creates turmoil, inner angst, and can create long lasting effects.
  • moving towards pleasing our children instead of needing at times to say no. We may love our children and want to know them personally, but we are still their disciplinarians and their protectors – being a friend to our child automatically blurs those lines.
  • creating a parentified child. When children feel that they are taking care of you, the power differential has shifted, placing too much responsibility on someone not mature enough to handle it.

Whether they are four or forty, we will forever be in the parental role with our children. They will come to us at various times in their life and just need us to be mom or dad. And we can love, support, and be close to our children as a parent – let your friends be your friends, and let your kids be your kids; they are forever roles.

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Simple Yet Difficult Statements and Why We Need to Use Them

Why is communicating so difficult? We tend to feel very nervous when we know a conversation with a loved one is necessary; defaulting to avoidance and convincing ourselves that this issue at work or home is not important or will go away. Sometimes it is that we can’t say sorry, or we hesitate in telling others that we love them.

Statements that are simple, yet effective at strengthening relationships include:

  • “I’m sorry.”
  • “I love you.”
  • “Can we talk?”
  • “Thank you.”
  • “You were right.”
  • “I need…….”

Perhaps we weren’t taught to use those statements growing up and now they feel foreign, perhaps we are in a relationship that isn’t safe for us to use these statements, perhaps we hesitate to use them due to our own indifference to the relationship. Despite the reason, the root cause it seems, lies in our fear of vulnerability and susceptibility to rejection. Using these statements requires humility, and an inner sense that even if they are not responded to, we are strong enough to say them.

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