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Learn your partner's 'love language'

A man and a woman can live together for 50 years and never understand one another. Parents are often baffled and frustrated by their children’s personalities and behaviors.

Differences threaten to weaken the ties between family members and we wonder if there is any way to bridge the gap between what we want and what we have with one another.

We think we know the people we love and live with, but do we really? Why do couples and families struggle with the people they claim to love the most?

Several years ago I read a book called “The Five Love Languages” by Gary Chapman. I learned that different people show love and receive love in their own way.

If you try to shower your mate with kisses when her love language is gifts, don’t be surprised if you get the cold shoulder, but if your child’s love language is quality time, expensive presents won’t cut it.

Before I read “Love Languages” I did what most people do: expected my husband and kids to think and act like me when it came to showing affection.

I’m not the most romantic person, so when my husband would bring me flowers for no reason I thought he was up to something.

I’m also not a hugger, and when my younger son insisted on hugging and kissing me all the time I figured he just wanted something from me.

(I’m starting to remind myself of Krusty the Clown’s line to his daughter, Sophie, on “The Simpsons”: “Listen, kid, I’m not the kind of dad who, you know, does things or says stuff or looks at ya, but the love is there!” I’m not that bad, though, I promise).

Chapman says that there are five ways to show someone you love and appreciate them: words of affirmation, quality time, receiving gifts, acts of service and physical touch.

To discover your mate’s love language, watch how he or she shows love to you. People tend to show the kind of love they want to receive.

Obviously, the male love language is usually pretty heavy on the “physical touch,” but it can also mean giving a good shoulder massage or taking a walk while holding hands.

If your spouse likes to surprise you with little gifts, then he would probably like to get the same thing from you.

“The Five Love Languages” outlines how to determine the love languages you and your family members prefer.

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