Loving In Tough Times.

Loving In Tough Times.

When life gets difficult we sometimes push the people that we love away. I’m not sure why we do it. Whether it’s an attempt to pretend we’re okay, or to keep people at a distance when we’re feeling vulnerable. If not, perhaps it’s because we just don’t feel like we’ll be good company, don’t want to cause a fuss or need to cuccoon ourselves within a duvet, and cuccoons aren’t as efficient with a partner. For whatever reason we do it, it seems to be a human instinct to distance ourselves from others when we’re struggling with life.

This can make it hard for those around us to show love. When we feel pushed away it’s only natural that we back off, if they say that’s what they want it makes sense that we do it because we love them. While sometimes this is a good thing, it can mean that people end up feeling isolated and there are ways to show them how you feel despite their desire to be alone. The first of these is really easy to do, simply sending a text or giving a call to tell them you’re there when they change their mind is important. It lets them know that once they’re feeling up to company you’re available, it lets them know that the door isn’t closed. It lets them know that you care.

If someone doesn’t want to chat you can always offer alternatives. Rather than talking perhaps they’d like to watch a movie and eat junk food – I know that’s always a good option for me. Otherwise there are board games, video games, reading a book side-by-side. There are no end of options where you can spend time with people without talking to them. These moments can build a bond between you, you’ll each know that you went through the struggle together, even if you didn’t feel up to talking about it.

Another alternative is helping them with whatever they need. If they’re feeling unable to leave the house perhaps they could do with someone to collect groceries (or even some sweet treats). I’ve lost track of the number of times where I’ve been too ill to go out, and friends have dropped off chocolates, crisps, tea-bags, even cigarettes although they’re often less willing with that one. It’s a great help as it lessens the worries in our head and has the added advantage of forcing us to see someone, even if they do only stay long enough to hand over a bag of goodies.

Sometimes it’s good to push a little, when in the depths of struggles it can be hard for people to know what is really good for them. For example, when I’m at my worst I could hide in my room for days only emerging for a cup of tea if I got really desperate. I won’t cook, step outside of my front door or respond to most messages I receive. However, this isn’t actually very good for me. If I do this I end up feeling worse. It can be really helpful for friends to encourage me out of the house and come with me, or even come over to bring me downstairs or into the garden for a chat.

In the event that someone does want to talk about what they’re fighting through, be there. Listen to them and take note of what they’re saying. Never judge them or allow them to think that their troubles are not worth being upset over. Allow them to take their anger or hurt out on you a little bit, it can be good for them and they’ll really know that you love them. Don’t try to fix their problems, but be there for them to talk to and give advice if they ask for it. If you’d like to read more, click here.

 

I know this was a pretty concise guide, and that’s probably because I’m definitely no expert. But what I do know is that it’s important for people to know that struggling with life or illness does not make them any less precious to you. It’s vital for them to know that you love them, that you’ll be there for them whenever they need you. If you deal with tough times in this way, rather than pushing you apart, they can push you together. They can create a bond between you that makes them a valuable experience, however horrible they may be at the time.

If you’re finding life really hard at the moment please contact the Samaritans, or your local GP or crisis team! You’re not alone, no matter how much it may feel that way.¬†

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Learning a Love Language.

Learning a Love Language.

In 1995, Gary Chapman published a book called ‘The 5 love languages: the secret to a love that lasts’. In his book he wrote that we each have one primary and one secondary love language and that we tend to demonstrate our love in the way we would like to receive it. In other words, if we feel loved when we get presents we’re most likely to show people our love through buying gifts for them.

The five love languages, according to Chapman are:

  • Gift giving
    • Self explanatory – these people feel most loved when they’re given a gift.
  • Quality time
    • These people feel most loved when they have your undivided attention.
  • Words of affirmation
    • These people like to hear words which tell your feelings for them.
  • Physical touch
    • To these people, nothing shows love more than being held/kissed etc – a physical display of love.
  • Acts of service/devotion
    • These people need displays of love through actions that show how important they are to you.

Ideally, you’d speak the same language but this isn’t always going to happen. Imagine if you were dating someone who was a different nationality to you and you didn’t share a language. How would you communicate? In the same way (although less extreme) if you don’t understand love languages, you can end up being unable to communicate or understand love with the other person. You could end up buying them gifts all day long, but they’d only truly feel loved if you gave them your undivided attention for a while. They wouldn’t feel the love that you were trying to communicate because they don’t speak your language.

In my mind, there’s a couple of ways around this. The first is knowing what language the other person speaks (and which language you do). There’s a quiz for this online (Click here) which is quick and actually quite enjoyable. My top 2 were ‘quality time’ and ‘words of affirmation’, just in case you want to show me some love. You can probably also figure this out through watching them or having a chat about it, however you find it out it’s important to know how they understand love. Once you know what language the other person speaks, you’ll be able to understand when they show you love in a different way to what you’d prefer. Next time you get bought a gift, you’ll understand that that’s the way they¬†show love and therefore will hear their message – I love you.

Another way to cross this language barrier is to learn their language. If they’re not understanding that you love them through your doing the washing up maybe try speaking in a language they do understand. If one of their love languages is physical touch, why not go and give them a cuddle. Or if they speak in affirmations simply say to them ‘I love you’. Message received… problem solved. It may not be the easiest thing for you to speak another language, but it will definitely be worth it if you want to build any kind of relationship.

 

Learning to Love.

Learning to Love.

I’m not going to teach you to love as though you’ve never loved before. I simply mean that loving people is something which we can practice and improve. It gets better over time anyway, all by itself, as long as you pay attention. This is because love isn’t a ‘one-size-fits-all’ scenario. Love is individual and as you get to know the object of your love more deeply, you’ll know how best to show them how you feel.

I’ll start the series properly next week by talking about love languages. I’m sure a lot of you have heard of them but I thought it was worth giving a reminder that everyone understands and shows love in a different way. The problem is, if you speak a different love language to the person you love, how do you communicate? I’d argue it’s all about compromise, as most things unfortunately are. Learning to speak their lingo as they learn to use yours. Just doing this can be tough, but in making a real effort you’re already demonstrating your feelings for them.

Week three is going to focus on being there when the going gets tough. Life isn’t always easy and as a result, neither is love. When life throws stones at your loved ones how do you show them that you care? How can you be there for someone who seems not to want you around while they’re struggling? It’s a tough one, but I think it’s important to remember that you’ll have to fight through life with your loved ones – my friends and family have certainly had to fight things with me!

On Valentine’s Day a lot of people think you have to go big. I’d argue that sometimes this is a good thing. Special things such as presents and surprises, things that require some effort on your part can be a great way of showing people how precious they are to you. However, love isn’t just something that happens one day of the year. So week four won’t only argue for the extravagant demonstrations of love, but also for the tiny little expressions you can show each day.

I’m not an expert on love, in any way. But I do love people and I do my best to show them how much I care in all of the ways above. I fail sometimes, and we all do and will continue to do so but nevertheless I think that by working hard we can get better at it. The things I’ll be suggesting in this month’s series are just a guide which I try to live by and I’m not saying that they’re the only way (or even the best) to show people that you love them. In fact, if you’ve got any ideas I’d love you to get in touch and share them. We’re in this together!