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Love Should Be Smart
Gary Brainerd
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Love Should Be Smart

Love Should Be Smart!

In relationships, love is never enough.Successfully relationships also need a good deal of intelligence and courage.Even when it comes to giving and receiving love, wise couples will tend to be ďsmartĒ about it.

A. Learning Your Partnerís Love Language
A common, mistaken belief couples make is that "the way I experience being loved is the way my partner will or should experience being loved". This is often a big, big mistake. "If I like receiving cards, doesnít everyone?" "If I donít need to hear, ĎI love youí, then my partner should not need it". These beliefs are rarely spoken, but frequently acted upon.

We believe you are better off to assume that your Partner speaks an entirely different "love language" than you do, and if you want to really communicate your love, you will need to learn his or her "love language".

B. Finding Your Partnerís Receptor Buttons

If you will forgive a switch in metaphors, it may be helpful to picture the idea of "receptor buttons" in various places on your psyche. Receptor buttons can be words, touches or behaviors, but each person has different receptor buttons or different words, touches or behaviors that are his or her unique "receptor buttons". If you hit a receptor button by saying just the right words, or touching in just the right way or doing a particular behavior in a particular way, the receptor button will connect directly to the pleasure centers of the brain and your partner will immediately feel pleasured, loved, cared about.

If you express your love in a word, touch or behavior that does not touch a receptor button, your partner will have to look at what you are doing, interpret it as a loving gesture and appreciate it, but it will be appreciated intellectually and will not immediately connect to the pleasure centers.

Wise partners will receive and enjoy and appreciate love regardless of whether or not it hits a receptor button, but really smart partners will learn their partners receptor buttons and regularly share the words, touches and behaviors that immediately make them feel loved and cared about without having to intellectually interpret and value the gesture.

The purpose of the ďCaring BehaviorsĒ section of the Coupleís Workstation is for you to begin a process of identifying your partnerís receptor buttons, or to switch back to the first metaphor, and learn your partnerís love language.

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C. Target Specific Caring Behaviors
When we are talking about "receptor buttons" and "love language", it is important to understand that the "buttons" and the "language" are frequently very precise. Your partner may have a receptor button that is a hug. When you hug your partner, he or she will immediately feel warm, loved, safe, cared about. But if you explore the hugs further, you very likely will discover that a particular kind of hug, with a certain length of time and just the right pressure will really hit the receptor button.

When Carol, my wife, hugs me with both arms around my neck, for some reason that feels ten times better to me than a hug with both arms around my waist. And a hug with one arm around my neck and the other arm around my waist with her hand putting just the right pressure on a certain spot in my back puts me in heaven. I donít know why. I like almost any hug from Carol, but these are particularly impactful for me.

Learning these "target specific" receptor buttons can be like mastering an art. You can always be fine-tuning and improving the timing, the tone of voice, the words, the appreciations, the right combination of words and touches. A wise partner will know many different ways and the times when their partner needs just the right word, touch or behavior. This can involve a lifetime of learning. The Partner Interview on Caring Behaviors in the Coupleís Workstation will help you continue to learn each otherís "receptor buttons".

D. The Clairvoyant Myth
A second mistake couples make is what I call the clairvoyant myth, the belief that "my partner either already knows or should know where my receptor buttons are or what my love language is". This is a major misconception. And thatís why we have this section of the Coupleís Workstation, to give you the intellectual support and the means for breaking out of the clairvoyant myth and becoming very smart, intelligent, and conscious about learning the various ways your partner can most easily take in loving acts.

You and your partner are unique; each of you is unique. Even though you have much in common with each other and with other people, you will have special words, touches and behaviors that make you feel loved and cared about. Your partner will understand what these are best if you let him or her clearly know.

"If I have to ask for something, it doesnít count if I get it" is an attitude that is more common than one would hope. It is part of the clairvoyant myth. It is important to regularly and clearly let your partner know your love language. It is equally important to understand and learn your partnerís.

E. Ways of Feeling Loved
There are three main avenues of giving and receiving love: words, touches and behaviors. Your relationship task is to learn the words, the touches and the behaviors or actions that touch your partnerís receptor buttons. In the Partner Interview, you will seek to discover the kind of words, touches and behaviors that constitute your partnerís love language. It is important know many items in each area.

1. Touches
Touching, of course, refers to physical connecting. Hugs, kisses, snuggling, touching the face with a hand, holding hands, caresses, etc. Touch is a basic human need, but some people need it more than others. Finding out the kinds and frequency of your partnerís preferences for touch will be very important.

When it comes to intimate, committed, love relationships knowing how to disengage from touching is often as important as engaging in touching. If you were to observe a loving couple that is comfortable with each other touching, you would observe a kind of relaxed dance of touch. If they are watching TV or in the movie, they will hold hands for a few minutes and then one or the other will shift positions, withdraw the hand, pick up something and later take the hand again. This dance of connecting and disconnecting is very important.

People who are uncomfortable with touching often do not know how to disengage without worrying that the partner will be hurt or disappointed or displeased.

Learning to be comfortable with "disengaging" is an essential part of being comfortable with "engaging". This is true for conversations as well as for touching. Isolators (people who protect themselves from being suffocated or smothered by distancing or avoiding contact) in particular will need to talk about this with their partner.

2. Words
Verbal communication, of course, is a major form of human communication. It is what clearly distinguishes us from the animal kingdom. Yet within the human community, there is also a wide range of differences in both the need for and the kind of communication by words.

There seems to be some sex differences in regard to communication by words. Men speak on average about 2500 words a day; women speak on average about 5,000 words a day.

When it comes to sex differences, it is important to understand that virtually everything that is true about men is also true about women, and everything that is true about women is also true about men. We are not talking about pure differences as much as differences in emphasis or degree.

For example, many (not all) women tend to like verbal messages that are reassuring about the quality of their relationships (I love you, Iím glad Iím married to you, You are so considerate of your friends, etc). Do men like this too? Yes, but often not to the degree. Men tend to prefer verbal messages that show appreciation for accomplishments (You are so good at that, Thatís a wonderful fire you built in the fireplace, You work hard, etc). Do women like this, too? Of course. But wise women will experiment with the idea that their male partners may need and enjoy this 3 or 4 times more than they. And wise men will experiment with the idea that their female partners may need and enjoy reassurances and enjoyment about the relationship 3 or 4 time more than they..

There are lots of possible explanations for this phenomenon. What may be important for you is to see if this tends to be true for your unique relationship, and if it is you will probably be wise to accept this difference and adjust your words accordingly.

Some people, both men and women, prefer indirect caring words rather than direct. For example, the direct "I love you" or "You were wonderful tonight" is great for some people. For others, the indirect, "I feel happy when Iím with you" or "I enjoyed tonight very much" is preferred. This is a time to learn the kinds and actual phrases that mean a lot to your partner.

3. Behaviors and Actions
For many people, itís not what you say; itís what you do that counts. Particularly, if behavior in oneís family of origin was the opposite of the words that were spoken, words will lose their meaning even if you love hearing the words.

Some people feel loved by doing separate things together in the same room. Helping with a task or regularly doing a chore is a powerful expression of love for many people. For others, it is just doing what needs to be done. Offering to get a cup of coffee or "Iím going out; can I get anything for you" or "putting dishes in the dish washer" will often make one person feel loved and have little or no meaning of love for another..

In the Partner Interview, you will have an opportunity to explore all of these behavioral avenues of receiving love.

If this article feels important or relevant to you, you might enjoy a free month in our Coupleís Workstation.Be sure to do the exercise on Caring Behaviors.A unique benefit of the Coupleís Workstation is that when you complete this exercise with your partner, you will both receive periodic email reminders about which words, touches and behaviors touch your partnerís receptor buttons.

Questions:Write to Questions@relationship-help.com

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