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My sister got married recently. Two weeks ago, actually. Yesterday I and my parents largely watched as the new couple unwrapped and sorted out all the wedding presents, including several amusing conversations about mislaid cards.

They have a rapport I am envious of. I never really had that in my failed marriage. However, my sister is pretty up-front in admitting she learnt a lot from watching my marriage. One of the books she borrowed from me a while back (she helped me re-arrange part of my flat a few months ago and in a lull in the exertion perused my bookshelves) was The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman. I’d read it a long time ago but can kind of remember the premise: there are roughly five different ways to feel like you are loved and everyone has a preferred way to love and to feel love. But when the person you are loving doesn’t feel love in the same way as you show it, then we have a mis-communication. The five are Words Of Affirmation, Gift-Giving, Acts Of Service, Quality Time and Physical Touch.

I knew I never felt much love from my (ex)wife. But I’d forgotten that book and its message and I’m pretty sure she’d never read it or if she had, she hadn’t understood it. My sister made an astute observation about this yesterday, though: she said my language of love is Words Of Affirmation, which my (ex)wife was notoriously poor at doing. My sister observed that this was obvious when she saw my (ex)wife doing the opposite: tearing me down with words. No wonder we crashed and burned! Helps explain why I love my writers’ group so much: we love each other in many ways, but Words Of Affirmation is definitely one of them. Also explains why the most valuable thing I hear from my boss at work is literally words affirming my work and work-practices.

I have to say I don’t know what my (ex)wife’s language of love is. Except that it clearly wasn’t Words Of Affirmation. And it probably wasn’t Physical Touch, either, come to think of it. I’m left wondering which it is. I suspect it was most likely Acts Of Service.

But regardless, it was a surprisingly deep exchange. And I’m glad it happened.