Monday, December 8, 2014

Does your love language have you tongue-tied?

Our longtime pet-sitter pal is college student who recently put out a call on Facebook:

I am writing a paper about love languages and I need 4 couples to take a quick survey for me about you and your partner's love language.

I'm pretty sure the fine print in my romance author contract requires me to respond affirmatively to such requests, so I told her my husband and I would be delighted to do it. I even did my best to maintain an air of professionalism by not pointing out that we're always delighted to do it.

Within an hour, she'd messaged us the quiz. She instructed us to take it separately and not share our responses with one another. We were in the middle of dinner at the time, so we spent the next 30 minutes giggling and shielding our papers in the crooks of our elbows while we took turns refilling each other's wine glasses.

The questions centered around how we prefer to express and receive affection, and options ranged from "tell me I'm hot" to "buy me stuff" to "grab my butt."

I might be paraphrasing here.

It came as a surprise to absolutely no one that we both ranked physical affection as our top thing to give and receive. It's possible we were groping each other under the table while we filled out the quizzes.

After we submitted our answers, our pal replied with a few follow-up questions, including one that read, "If love is like an empty gas tank, is your partner filling up your tank by speaking to you in your love language?"

I snickered as I typed my reply. "Oh, yeah. He fills me up, all right. Wait, what was the question?"

So much for my facade of professionalism. Still, it was refreshing to see how closely aligned our responses were in terms of how we like to show and receive affection. As both a human and a romance author (which aren't always the same thing) I recognize that misunderstandings in this realm are as common as heaving bosoms.

When you write romance novels, your job isn't to spend 350 pages showing how two people get together. It's to spend 350 pages keeping them apart, but convincing the reader (and the characters) that they should be together.

Keeping them apart requires some sort of major conflict. It can be fairly obvious, like woman with a well-warranted desire never to date another military man, paired up with a Marine sniper disguising his identity so he can protect the woman and her twins while serving as their nanny (that's Marine for Hire in a nutshell). It can be also be two people with very personal reasons for pledging never to fall in love or marry (pretty much the backbone of both Fiancée for Hire and my upcoming Dec. 29 release, Best Man for Hire).

It's also common – both in real life and in romance novels – to have mismatched love languages as the cornerstone of conflict. Surely you've seen it before? One person is convinced that love means showering a partner with affection and quality time, while the other believes in showing love by working long hours to provide financial stability. While neither is "right" or "wrong," it can be downright disastrous when you're not aligned.

Which is one reason I'm pretty grateful my husband and I don't seem terribly tongue-tied when it comes to our own brand of love language.

"It seems you guys speak multiple love languages with each other," our pal reported a few days later when she compiled her research. "Both of your top 4 scores only varied within a point or 3."

Indeed. Sometimes it all comes down to how well and how often you score.

So what's your love language of choice? How do you prefer to show or receive affection? Please share!


Elizabeth Poole said...

I read that book a long time ago, and found it completely fascinating. I took it to heart, and ever since I try really hard to see what other people (not just my spouse, but my friends and family) are doing to show their love for me. I think that's the missing part of most arguments: not only are the love languages not coming through, but you feel hurt that you've done "all these things" for the person and they don't seem to care.

It's pure gold for writing, because you can just set two people up with opposite love languages and watch the fur fly.

Lynnanne Dennison said...

Girl... I don't know about love language... but I just read your Fiancee for Hire and wasn't disappointed, again. What a hoot! Love the humor. Can't wait 'til the next release -- whether it's yours or, well, someone else's. Yeah... you know what I mean. That. lol