Stay smitten: Learning a new (love) language

“Stay Smitten” is a recurring blog feature filled with tangible relationship advice to help make sure your honeymoon is more than just a phase. That it’s a way of life. Why? Because marriages in which love shines the brightest have the power to change the world.

Smitten Honeymoons: Love that Lasts

About a month before my wedding to Mr. Smitten, my sister gifted me one of the most beautiful books. It was a special edition of Gary Chapman’s “The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love that Lasts.” At the time, we were on our way to Duluth for a girls weekend filled with last minute wedding preparations, so I thanked her, set the book on my backseat and ... forgot about it.

It wasn’t until months after Mr. Smitten and I returned from our honeymoon that I reached for it, perhaps not surprisingly after one of the first disagreements the hubs and I had post I dos. I can’t remember what we’d been arguing about, but ever the fixer, problem-solver, solution-finder, I turned to chapter one.

Love Languages

I’d heard of Gary Chapman and his Love Languages before, but I’d never committed to truly understanding them. This was partly because after dating for seven years before tying the knot, I felt like I knew everything about Mr. Smitten—including how I could love him best.

Regardless, as I flipped page after page of Chapman’s book, I found myself underlining passages and nodding along. By the halfway point, I’d scheduled a date with Mr. Smitten for us to take the online version of Chapman’s Love Languages quiz together—an easy questionnaire meant to pinpoint each person’s preferred Love Language: words of affirmation; quality time; receiving gifts; acts of service; or physical touch.

The next Sunday, we sizzled bacon, scrambled eggs and brewed coffee for brunch. Then, we pulled Chapman a metaphorical seat up to our table and got down to business. As we worked through the quiz, each of us read the various scenarios and clicked on the most fitting answer for us. Once finished, the results were crystal clear:

Mr. Smitten: Acts of service, followed closely by quality time.

Mrs. Smitten: Words of affirmation, followed closely by quality time.

In a nutshell, my hubby thrives off being offered a helping hand. Me? Skip the small talk and dive deep. Simultaneously, both of us have always valued our precious time together.

Lost in Translation

One of the most eye-opening parts about our brunch date with Chapman was that we saw how we’d been using our own primary Love Language on the other person. For example, Mr. Smitten is constantly finding ways to (mostly) make my life easier. My car needs gas? Done. I’m traveling for a long weekend? The fur babies are tucked into bed every night. Netflix date? Popcorn is already popping. On the other hand, I love words. Before launching Smitten Honeymoons, I worked as a journalist at a daily paper for years. Then, I earned my master’s degree in literature and language and taught college reading and writing. Words are my jam.

While this realization has been transformational, learning how to speak the other person’s primary language rather than our own hasn’t been automatic. Truthfully, Mr. Smitten’s Love Language is one of the hardest for me. Not because I don’t want to help him with things, but because in my mind what constitutes acts of love are different than in his.

Putting the dishes away for him when it’s his turn but he doesn’t have time? Moving his laundry from the washer to the dryer so I can do my own, instead of asking him to move it himself? To me, there couldn’t be less ideal ways to show him how much I love him.

None. Zero. Zilch.

My brain just isn’t wired to think of these things as expressions of love. On the other hand, writing him an ooey gooey love letter, surprising him with a retro refrigerator for his man cave, or planning a romantic date out on the town? Yes, yes and yes, please.

Regardless, our morning with Chapman allowed me to see that not everyone—my husband included—interprets gestures of love in the same way as me. While I will always prefer a handwritten note rather than Mr. Smitten filling up my car’s gas tank, I now realize that he most often prefers the opposite. Knowing why makes it a lot easier for me to get enthusiastic about learning, practicing and mastering a new language—his Love Language.

Honeymoon Travel Tip

Want to make sure you’re communicating your new hubby or wife’s primary Love Language on your honeymoon? Here are some ideas, all of which are easily adaptable to any destination!

Acts of service: Want room service? Looking to book an excursion? Pick up the phone and call your butler or concierge and take care of it so your hubby or wife doesn’t have to.

Quality time: This one is kind of a freebie, since it's likely just the two of you traveling together on your honeymoon. Still, arranging a private experience like a romantic dinner under the stars or a private sunset sailboat ride with champagne can elevate the quality time you’re already spending together on your honeymoon. Hit it out of the park by coming up with creative conversation starters. For example, you might have a list of fun questions like “What will our five year anniversary look like?” or “If you had a super power, what would it be?”

Word of affirmation: While many couples write each other letters to be read the morning of their wedding, surprise your hubby or wife with some sweet words after the wedding, too. Before leaving for your honeymoon, handwrite a list of ten things you love about your partner or reasons you’re grateful for him or her. Then, leave it somewhere in your room where it will easily be found or work with the concierge to have it delivered as part of breakfast in bed or at dinner.  

Receiving gifts: Whether it’s champagne, flowers, locally made goods or something else entirely, everyone (whether or not their Love Language is receiving gifts) loves to arrive to a sweet surprise waiting in their suite.

Physical touch: C’mon, love bugs, it’s your honeymoon. Hand holding, cuddling and making out are all encouraged—always.