I just finished reading The Noticer by Andy Andrews.  It was a quick read (few hours) and very insightful- it’s all about perspective and how to change your perspective.  I really enjoyed the book.

A couple ideas really stood out while I was reading the book.  The first was “Intentions”.

“Despite popular belief to the contrary, there is absolutely no power in intention. The seagull may intend to fly away, may decide to do so, may talk with the other seagulls about how wonderful it is to fly, but until the seagull flaps his wings and takes to the air, he is still on the dock. There’s no difference between that gull and all the others. Likewise, there is no difference in the person who intends to do things differently and the one who never thinks about it in the first place. Have you ever considered how often we judge ourselves by our intentions while we judge others by their actions? Yet intention without action is an insult to those who expect the best from you.”  ―    Andy Andrews   

The second was the language of love, more specifically “Dialects”.   Take the English language for example- if you enter a room with people from Australia, England, Canada, Texas and Louisiana- well, everyone is going to sound a little different, even though everyone might be saying the exact same thing!  There are also dialects in the language of love.  We can all learn to speak and hear the other dialects, it’s just a matter of knowing what dialect the other person is speaking.  Our dialect comes from how we were raised.  For example, if your mom and dad showed love with lots of hugs and touch and embrace, that is probably how you express love to others, and also how you feel loved from others.

And here they are, the four dialects of love:

1. Spoken words of approval– This type of person likes to hear the words that express love. “I love you…I care about you…You are a great husband…etc.” They also express their love in the same way. They will often tell others the same phrases.  The author calls these people “Dogs” because dogs thrive on spoken praise.

2. Physical contact– This type of person needs to be physically close to someone…holding hands, hugging, kissing, sex, etc. in order to feel loved. If you grew up in a “touchy-feely” home, you probably show your loved ones you love them by cuddling. You also look for this contact to feel loved.  He calls these people “Cats” because cats thrive on physical contact- always rubbing up against you, begging to be pet and cuddled (on their terms of course!).

3. Favors and deeds- This type of person shows their love by doing little favors and deeds for their loved ones. They bring flowers, they cut the lawn, they fix a broken necklace…they help with laundry and dishes. They also feel loved when these things are done for them.  These people are like “Goldfish”.  You can’t touch them, they can’t hear you, they don’t care if you are in the same room or not, they have nothing to say- they just want to be fed and have their bowl kept clean.

4. Quality time– This person wants and needs undivided attention to feel loved. This person needs to have one on one time with their loved one.  They need to connect with others without outside distractions. They like to have dates where they can get away from the kids and really focus on each other.  These people are “Canaries” because all canaries want is attention- for you to sit and listen to them sing.

In the book he explains it like this-  Jan and Barry are a married couple thinking about divorce because neither feels loved any more.  The husband always tells his wife how much he loves her, but she just doesn’t believe him.  She says her husband never does anything for her- she’s asked him repeatedly to trim the hedge in the front yard and he won’t do it.  It’s driving her nuts.

Here’s an excerpt from the book:

“Young lady,” Jones said gently to Jan, “your husband does love you- in fact I believe he loves you very much.  But the dialect he uses to communicate it is spoken words of approval.  It  is also the only dialect he understands.  And only by hearing spoken words of approval does he ever feel loved.” … “Unfortunately,” he said, “the way we feel loved is usually the same way we express love.  Therefore, your husband did everything he could- over and over again- with the spoken word, to tell you how much he loved you.  But you never understood because you have not learned the ‘dialect’ with which he has tried to communicate that love.  You see, the dialect you use is one of favors and deeds” ….”Young man”, he said to Barry, “as desperately as she can, your wife has been trying to convey her love to you by doing things for you.  She is equally desperate fo you to say, ‘I love you’ by doing things for her!  And because you haven’t understood her dialect, those little favors and deeds didn’t seem important to you, and she has felt unloved.”

Remember the hedge she wanted him to trim?

Oh my gosh, as soon as I read that section it totally made sense!  It’s a basic need for people to feel loved, and to love others, but everyone does it differently!  And if you don’t take the time to understand those other dialects, well that becomes the disaster known as divorce.

So that got me thinking… what is MY dialect?  And what is Jim’s dialect?  And if we are different dialects?

I don’t think I’m a dog.  I don’t feel like I need to hear the words “I love you” to feel loved.  I DO hear it every day- and so does Jim- and so do our kids-  but I don’t feel like that is what is making me feel loved.

I don’t think I’m a cat, either.  Sure I like to be hugged and cuddled and do the touchy feely things, but I don’t think that’s what drives me.

I don’t think I’m a canary.  I don’t have a song to sing and I really don’t need to be the center of someone else’s attention.

I guess that makes me a goldfish?  Just feed me and clean my bowl, give me fresh gravel every now and then and I’ll be happy!  Yep, that’s it.

I think I’m a goldfish that responds to dog, cat and canary actions….but I’m happiest when someone cleans my fishbowl.

So what’s Jim?

I think he’s a canary.  He seems to be happiest when we do things together.  He always wants me to be outside with him when he’s working on a project, or hang in the garage.   He’d love for me to sit on the couch and watch TV with him every night after work.  This became apparent when he started working a later shift and we had an hour every morning to spend together.  My natural desire was to do something productive- like clean house or work on something…..his desire was to just sit on the couch, together, and talk.  He’s a canary.  He just needs the attention.

I realized that I try to make him happy by doing things for him…..further confirming that I’m a “Favors and Deeds” person.

So the next question is….can a canary and goldfish get along?   You betcha!  Especially once you communicate this out loud to your spouse!  We speak our love, we show our love physically, I do things for him (my language) and he does things for me, and although I don’t like to sit on the couch or work on projects- I know it makes him happy and I do it.  I’ve been speaking his dialect to him all along without even knowing it.  And often times he does the same for me.  Last night he cleaned the kitchen!

And that, folks, is the secret to a successful marriage.

Ask yourself….what dialect do you speak?  What does your spouse do that makes you happy, makes you feel loved?  Is it saying I love you?  Is it giving you a kiss or holding hands?  Is it sitting with you on the couch watching TV?  Is it cleaning up the kitchen after you make dinner?  That’s the dialect you need to hear and your spouse needs to learn to speak that dialect.  And you need to do the same for your spouse….identify and speak his/her dialect.

Incredibly Simple.