Love is a language

Maybe  you have heard of the saying, “love makes the world go around.” It is one of the key principles that people keep on telling each other whenever there is struggle and strife within the families or other settings. Despite of the lessons that we learn from life, love is easy to talk about. However, it is rather challenging to put action behind the words.

Right after church today, I met one of my friends at the church. We have not seen each other for a while. So, at the beginning, I was planning to have a brief conversation about updates. However, we ended up having lunch with each other and talked about the most interesting word ” love.” His name is Mark. Mark shared with me about the recent relationship he had. Although it happened two years ago, as he was telling me about his story, his eyes got watery. I could tell that the relationship really hurt him one way or another. Indeed, he could no longer held it and started to let the tear running around his eyes. To make long story short, Mark was dating a girl from another country two years ago. They met each other at random occasion. Mark fell head over heals for her and the “honeymoon” moment lasted a while began  the problems started to show up. During the relationships, Mark kept on being questions and having doubt in his mind. ” There must be something wrong with me or her. Something bothers me. ” Mark shared his anxiety and concerns with the  girl and she seemed not to understand what the issue was about.

“Mark, let’s stop you right there!” After listening to him for a while, I started to see what the real issue is. The real killer behind the problem is” the language of love is not being interpreted well.” As the communication major, over the years, I have been reading books and encountering numerous occasions about the similar situations. Some of my friends married to other nationalities and didn’t work out as they expected. The marriage went decayed after many times counseling. Finally, it dawned on me that the problems lie within the communications between the partners. Let’s take Mark for example. Whenever he had any questions and doubts about the relationships, he normally shared with his former girlfriend. He was expecting someone to listen to him. However, instead of understanding what Mark was trying to convey, the girl started to form her own understanding in her mind. In other words,  she was interpreting  what Mark was trying to say in “her own way.” That’s why Mark’s girlfriend started to freak out and had a fight with him. On one hand, Mark thought to himself ” what did I say? All I was trying to say is I care about this relationship and I don’t want to end up soon. ” In the girl’s mind, she thought, ” we just started to date for two weeks and now you are dumping me!” You see, that’s why when people are talking, the meaning can be lost in the translation.

Nelson Mandela once said “if you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to a man in his language, that goes to his heart.” It is the same principle to our love relationship. As we all know,  communication in a relationship is rather crucial. However, how we talk defines the quality of the message that we want to send out. The key is to make sure the receiver of the message have full grasp of the message. That’s why it is very useful way to ask the respondent to repeat the message by asking ” what did I just say?” Through this way,  the core of the message can be confirm one way or another. Back to Mark’s story, he thought the girlfriend fully understood what he was trying to say, However, in reality, the girl understood the messages from Mark from the opposite direction. There was mutual ground between those two people.  It is for this reason we ought to communicate more and reaffirm that our messages are clearly sent and understood.

Second, besides understanding the messages translation, another key elements is the power of listening. From the communication perspective to show the example. Have you ever been into the situation where you turn on the TV at your house before doing the cleaning? Even though the cleaning is more important, the TV is running. We don’t pay attention to the content on the TV. We just walk by and know “the noise” is from the TV. That’s the exactly what happen when we stop pay attention to other people’s talking. We we communicate with other people. What are we paying attention to? The cell phone? The text? Or the book we  are reading? When was the last time you looked at people in their eyes while they were talking to us? Between friends, couples, we tend to listen to the content of the messages selectively. We tend to choose to pick up the messages based on our attention distribution. In other words, if we are not listening to the messages, we just simply do “heard it!”

Over the years, I have been reading and researching, observing on the key point of effective communication methods. When I came across many references and observations, I find out that “listening” is so important to this part. Are we listening to the messages or we just heard it? There is a huge difference between listening and hearing.

Go back to Mark’s example, he also told me that his former girlfriend seemed to be distracted by something whenever he was trying to communicate with her. Whenever there was a argument, most of the time, the girl just walked out the door and didn’t want to hear a thing from him. He thought he explained precisely and explicitly, however, the girl didn’t understand a thing Mark said. Because she was busy “on her mind.”

Maybe I am not an expert on relationship. I might not understand what each individual is going through with their own marriages or relationship, however, love is a universal language. There are many ways to interpret what we say and how we say to others. The same thing I told Mark today at lunch. Relationship is complicated and we are longing to be in a relationship with one another. That’s part of who we are.  In order to make it work, we have to know whether we successfully understand the message  first. Then, we ought to examine that our listening brings the meaning of the messages to the fullness.

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