Learning to Love Our Different Versions of Love
As we learn to love we can truly and effectively target the heart. In this blog I break down the love language barrier within my relationship, via my latest single, “My Version of a Love Song.”
Learn to love in a family setting
Raise your hand if in your adulting years you are realizing how most of what you thought you knew about love was almost nothing like you thought it was. (My hand is raised). I’m sure some of us are out of the house and still learning how to love our families, but I won’t lie. I was your average, suburban, white kid in a middle-class, married-with-kids family. I didn’t have a problem feeling loved as a child. I have two caring parents who taught my sister and me to love by putting others first, and creating environments that were welcoming. My mom loved to host because she loved being able to provide food and shelter for people she loves. My dad would make mix-tapes for friends throughout the years to express his own love of music in sharing it in unique and individual ways and how he had listened to their words in the past enough to create something he thought they would love. We learned to love through what our parents did for my sister and me, through thoughtfulness, like cleaning up after dinner or making breakfast before everyone wakes up. Simply put, I guess I learned to love through acts of service.
Another form of love in our family was gift-giving. Perhaps you can relate–in our family, gift-giving was not taken lightly. It didn’t have to be expensive or excessive. My parents wanted the gift-opener to know they had been heard and understood. The ways in which I learned to love were through my parents’ expression of it, and it was often. That, and the movies. Though, I’m learning that love is a personal expression, and that expression may have different faces with different people over the course of your life, but ultimately, looks a lot like it did with your family as a kid.
Having known my my in-laws for quite some time, I can say the same for my husband. His family knew how to love and be loved and it was apparent upon meeting them, even if it looked a little different.
Learn to love in marriage
I got married in 2016 and almost immediately understood how marriage changes everything. All of a sudden my comfortability in love shifted into expectations and standards. Unmet expectations turned into a need to bring things to his attention and that didn’t take long before it looked a lot like nagging.
I couldn’t understand why my husband, the man that loves me, wouldn’t do these things that made me happy. As well, he couldn’t understand why the woman that loved him couldn’t frame it differently, or at the very least, “ask nicely.”
It was the same argument over and over. This begs the question: If we both felt loved growing up and knew how to express love our whole lives, then why now is my understanding of romantic love so complex?
Well, beyond the fact that how we love continually changes as we humans do, there’s another catch—how we learn to love. Our foundations of love were different. The building blocks were unique. We had different methods, different teachers, and I would bet those teachers had differences of their own at the core, creating a kind of Babylon, if you will.
Learning to communicate love
Love is never communicated in the same way, but it can be boiled down to a handful of avenues of expression as Gary Chapman described beautifully in his book, The Five Love Languages.
Turns out, though my spouse and I come from similar backgrounds, positive upbringings with (luckily) still-married parents and thankfully, having avoided major trauma, we speak completely different love languages.
My version of love is him grabbing some good-looking flowers from the grocery store when he’s picking up some beer.
His version of love is me giving him a praise report on how smart he was to pick up beer because we were almost out and how thoughtful it was for him to bring me the flowers.
My version of love is him taking out the trash cause he sees it’s getting full while I’m cooking dinner.
His version of love is me yelling out the window, “Thanks! You look sexy taking out the trash, babe!”
My version of love is bringing him coffee and eggs in bed because he has a big day ahead of him and I want him to feel ready.
His version of love is leaving me a little note of encouragement on my desk before I start to tackle the tasks ahead of me.
Learning to love — Nurture and nature
A simple way to understand how we learn to love comes from the nature vs nurture theory. Nature vs nurture considers the impact of environmental influences and biological genetics.
Our nurture and nature lead us to deliver and receive our love from opposite ends of the spectrum. What formed my husband’s primary love language was words. What formed mine was quality time and acts of service.
Upon recognizing my husband’s love language, I needed to learn to love him with words of affirmation.
This might as well be Greek to me. Although my parents were very supportive, they nurtured me in a way that I learned to love with quality time and acts of service.
Looking back, we weren’t rewarded with words when we did something well. We were more of a high-five kind of family, I guess. Maybe a sticker or a treat, or letting me borrow the car. Essentially we were rewarded with action, not words.
I didn’t know how that would later affect me, but giving words of affirmation such as a compliment is like someone putting a pop quiz in front of me. All vocabulary goes out the window.
On the other side, my husband would have to learn to love in thoughtfulness, which isn’t to say he isn’t thoughtful, but the way that language is understood or accepted is through action—acts of service, quality time and gifts.
May as well be sign language, to him. “Thank God for your sister,” he says, when my birthday rolls around. A subtle indicator that the way he expresses love for me does not come natural to him either.
It doesn’t cross his mind that making breakfast for me while I’m taking a shower would make me want to jump his bones.
The same way that telling him how proud I am of the work that he does for our family everyday doesn’t cross my mind unless I’m writing it in an anniversary card once a year.
It’s frustrating and funny to find ourselves both loathing the feeling of speaking in the others’ love language. Though I wish he did think of those things more, I find myself trying to be more forgiving to the notion that’s not his nature.
In comes the nurture. Learning to love is the same as learning anything else. It takes practice, not to mention patience.
Learn to Love by Doing the Work
Humans should know how to verbally lift each other up, right? As a songwriter, especially, I feel like I should know a million ways to say, “I love you,” but when the spotlight hits me, I’m lost for words. They all feel cheesy to me. I show love more than I say it, but the person I chose to love requires something different. I had to put in the work. I had to practice out loud, because I had to learn to love with words.
The day came that my man made a comment on how I never wrote him any love songs.
Here it was. The time had come. This was a great opportunity to love in his way, because it allowed me to use my avenue of songwriting.
Baby steps, right? It was time to help him read between the lines when I didn’t quite know what to say or how to say it. It was time to explain why it was so hard for me to express it in his way while letting him know that I’m trying.
“My Version of a Love Song” was Born
The process to continue learning to love my man was birthed through the medium of song, which is a blend of multiple love languages. “My Version of a Love Song” is an expression of love through action while using words of affirmation.
I convinced him in lyric and song that my love for him is true whether I find better ways to say it or not.
My love is true when I angry text him about when he is coming home because I didn’t know how to reel him in sweetly.
It’s true when I kiss him because it’s better than whatever was gonna come out of my mouth.
It’s true when you zoom out and see all the little things—the slow burn.
Yes, I spent some time defending myself, but ultimately, the song promises that it’s something I am working on. I am comforted knowing this about me helps him learn to love the moments of my best efforts, even if they’re not up to standard yet.
This is my version of a love song.
My Version of a Love Song Lyrics
Below are the official lyrics to “My Version of a Love Song.”
I know you don’t believe me some days
But I’m always going out of my way
To show you that I love you babe
Don’t you know I love you baby?
If I could put a thousand words in a kiss
I’d write a novel all over your lips
Saying “I wish I was better at this”
But it is what it is
My love for you’s a slow drip
A long trip
After one good strong hit
A lot of bite in just a little bit
This is my version of a love song
Would you still love me if I get it wrong
Baby we both know putting it on paper’s not my nature
But it’s something that I’m working on
This is my version of a love song
A Lot of Bite in Just a Little Bit
What seems easy for us in expression is not always what’s easy for someone else. It’s not that we have to find somebody that speaks the same language as us, though, I’m sure that would make things easier.
The point is, if you’re willing to spend the time to learn how to speak the others’ language, then you’ll do much better communicating as partners and thus, strengthen your love bond.
Learn to love the mistakes. I don’t think it’s always gonna sound or look pretty all the time. In fact, I think its gonna take a lot of laughter at how stupid it feels to do something that is so not you to do.
It shows a lot of guts though—what you are willing to do for someone when you learn to love in the ways they are most receptive.
It’s putting yourself out on a ledge for the one you love. And personally, I’m always going to appreciate that. That kind of vulnerability goes beyond knowing that I’m loved—it really shows me how much I’m loved.
I hope “My Version of a Love Song,” the song and the brand new six-song album by the same name, speaks to you in some kind of way and helps you to navigate the miscommunications and idiosyncrasies of your relationship.
Listen to it here on Spotify, and follow me there to keep up with my latest releases and any new playlists I make. Keep up with my everyday via my instagram at @ms_emilyhackett and with everything else, at emilyhackett.com.
Love (in every form),