Assalaamu ‘alaikum sisters! I imagine you’ll agree with me when I say that one desire that we share is the desire to be loved. I’ve yet to meet a sister who hasn’t wanted to feel loved; yet, many of us feel unloved a great deal of the time. This isn’t because we don’t have people who love us. Instead, we feel unloved because we are not recognising the way in which someone is loving us. Confused yet? I imagine you may be. Let me explain through Sister Rashida’s* example. She came to coaching because she was struggling in her marriage; she felt that her husband didn’t love her at all. He would take care of all her material needs, make sure she and the kids were looked after, yet she felt unloved. When we began exploring a bit further, she began to understand that she felt love when it was expressed in words such as “I love you” or “you look beautiful”. However, her husband’s way of expressing love was by doing things for her. He did small things for her around the house, made sure that she didn’t want for anything – that was his way of showing love. In time, she began to understand that his way of expressing love was different to hers; he loved her a great deal, but in the way that he knew how to love. She learnt how to teach him about her needs and appreciate his gestures more as well.
Love is both complicated and simple. The complex part involves enhancing self-confidence and feeling worthy of receiving love; this is about our relationship with ourselves. The simple part of love is about expressing love for others and fully receiving the love that’s coming our way. We have explored self-esteem before and we will again. However, this time, our focus is on the simple part of love. Focus in on the people who are most important to you. Would you like them to truly feel the love you have for them? Would you like to feel deeply loved and appreciated by them? Today, we will learn about how we can enhance our experience of emotional love.
Begin by asking yourself the following questions:
• On a scale of 1-10, how loved am I feeling right now?
• Who are the people who I feel love me the most?
• How do I know (and feel) that they love me? (What do I see, feel, hear and experience that tells me that they love me?)
• Are there times I don’t experience feeling loved? Why or why not?
Expressing love is a need for us through all of our relationships, whether with our parents, siblings, friends or spouse. Let’s think of expressing love as a form of communication, one that we will think of as our love language.
So what is a love language?
Let’s go back to Communication 101 for a moment. The first thing we think of as communication are the words we speak. Our words, in fact, make up a very small percentage of our overall communication. The way people communicate includes their body language, vibes, actions, words and even thoughts. So, the ways in which we express/experience love can be termed as our “love language”. This includes our thoughts, actions, body language and words around expressing love. Just as every human being has their unique way of thinking about life, they also have their preferred way of feeling and expressing love. Choose one relationship in your life where you want to feel more loved and then take this short quiz to start exploring your love language.
1. I feel really wonderful when
A. I’m told I am loved or appreciated.
B. My family or loved ones spend uninterrupted quality time with me.
2. I feel more loved when
A. I’m given words of encouragement.
B. My loved one helps me with the housework or does something I need done (without me having to ask).
3. I truly feel loved when
A. My loved one tells me I did a great job with a meal.
B. They give me a gift or a card just for no reason.
4. I feel more loved when
A. When I hear “I love you”.
B. When I get a hug or my loved one holds my hand.
5. I feel more loved when
A. I hear loving and encouraging words.
B. I get a card, a flower or a gift for no reason.
Loving words: If you found yourself ticking “A” most often, then you experience love when you’re encouraged through words. You need to hear encouragement for your efforts and be told that you’re loved. If this is the way you feel love, then you express it in this way as well. If you find yourself saying “I love you” then it could be your primary desire to hear these words too. Encouragement and being told you’re loved goes a long way.
Quality time: If you selected that, then you truly feel loved when people spend time with you. This doesn’t mean sitting with you while on the phone; instead, you want to feel that you have your loved one’s or friend’s real attention. They look at you and listen to you. You feel heard and that’s when you feel a sense of being loved.
Acts of service: If you prefer that your son keeps his room clean or your husband takes the garbage out without being asked, then your preferred way of feeling loved is this one. You feel loved when people do things that you need done. You may also be doing things for them to show them that you care. If this is your way of feeling love, then you probably express it in the same way.
Gifts: If you feel on top of the world when you get a rose or a card, then this is the way you feel truly loved. You may be one of those people who loves giving small gifts as a surprise – if your friends give you something, whatever it is, you cherish it. Receiving gifts doesn’t mean that they need to be expensive, it’s the thought that counts – and a small token goes a long way.
Physical touch: Are you someone who hugs your family and friends a lot? Then you prefer to experience love by receiving the same. It may be that your special someone holds your hand or touches your arm as they walk by. Small gestures of touch allow you to feel loved and keep you fulfilled.
We all have a combination of ways in which we feel love. The idea here is to explore which is the one you most prefer. Ask your loved ones to take the test and you may find the results surprising.
Tip: Give love – but in their language
Now you can begin to explain to your loved ones what you need to feel loved. Next, learn about your family members’ or spouse’s preferred love language. Learn one or two new ways in which you can express your love, but in the way that they prefer. This will impact your relationship in a wonderful way. When your loved ones feel fulfilled, they will also want to give the love back – you can teach them about what you need as well.
I hope that you found the quiz insightful and useful as well. Insha Allah we can all enhance our experience of love. First learn to love through your loved ones’ preferred ways and then gently request of them to care for you in the small ways you need. My warmest wishes for you on this wonderful and heartwarming journey.
Sayeda Habib is a highly qualified professional coach. She coaches Muslim women to help them feel empowered and create results in their lives. She coaches clients one to one and also runs group workshops. She holds the Professional Certified Coach (PCC) credential issued by the International Coach Federation. She is the author of “Discover the Best in You: Life Coaching for Muslims.” She also contributes to various online and print publications. She has been featured in the media in various countries including Pakistan, the UAE and the United Kingdom. To find out more, log on to www.makelifehappen.com or email at Sayeda@makelifehappen.com