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By Karen Williams, LIMHP March 01, 2012 Posted in: Wellness

February is over and March is here. Even with an extra day to our year with Leap Day on the 29th of February, there still doesn't seem to be enough time to get everything done. Most everyone I speak with has so much going on their lives these days. I'd like to continue our discussion in this blog regarding personal relationships – something that, no matter how busy we are, we must take time and make time for.

With the busy-ness of life, our most precious relationships with our spouses and significant others can often get put on the back burner. There may be an “automatic pilot” type of thinking that happens for so many of us. We've been with this person awhile, we know they love us, and we know we love them. Taking time to express that love may not occur on a regular basis because there are so many other things demanding and requiring our attention. Many years ago I read an article that said most married couples spend a maximum of 10 to 20 minutes a day talking to each other. That's it? Ten to 20 minutes – at best. And what makes this more interesting and/or sad is that these few minutes of conversation are not even all at the same time – it's broken up throughout the day talking about kids, dinner, working late, etc. With tweeting and texting, we may be in contact a bit more – but are we really connecting?

So how do couples work things out so they feel connected rather than disconnected in spite of the demands of daily life? One of the books I use frequently in my work with couples is The Five Love Languages" by Gary Chapman. Chapman's books have been around for quite some time, and are very useful in my work as a therapist. He suggests that loving someone requires learning their language – just like learning a language when visiting a foreign country. Chapman's five languages are: Sharing Quality Time; Verbal Expressions of Affirmative Love; Physical Touch; Giving and Receiving Gifts; and Acts of Service. He offers each reader an invitation to learn his or her own special language of love, and then share that information with their partner. Once your partner knows your love language, he or she can then begin to practice speaking your language. Chapman has seen many couples grow closer using this technique. What I have noticed is, when couples really do their assignment and commit to practicing their partner's love language, very nice things begin to happen between the two. It does take practice and commitment – let's add patience to that list, as well.

Another author and therapist, Bill O'Hanlon, co-wrote a book with Pat Hudson called "Love is a Verb." O'Hanlon describes love as an action, not only an emotion. He challenges the reader to do something to express love. Taking action by expressing love in a way that our partner can understand – through our partner's preferred language of love -  can be very powerful and help connected couples feel closer, and help disconnected couples reconnect and feel closer, too. I think both Chapman and O'Hanlon are saying similar things in different ways: Healthy, successful relationships need attention on a regular basis and there are rewards!

By the way, thanks to everyone who came to the Alegent Heart and Vascular Health Fair. It was a lot of fun to meet so many of you. I also had a great opportunity to meet a fellow blogger, Toni Kuehneman, and try one of her delicious recipes. Delicious!

Take care.

Karen Williams, LIMHP
Karen Williams, LIMHP

Karen Williams, LIMHP is a Mental Health provider at CHI Health.

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