20130726-084410.jpgA series named in tribute to Bell Hooks. Love is a subject that is often discussed in the most trivial and superficial terms. Love, as a subject matter, especially from a Black perspective, hardly ever includes discussions regarding the nature of love, the function of love, the purpose of love, or the relevance of love. All we ever talk about is how we want it, have it, never had it, or keep losing it. We are right to see lack of love as a concern; we just have to choose the right angle for exploring solutions. Here is where that happens.

The Story

No one can argue that communication is essential to the success of a relationship; however, how we define communication is often where the problem with communication lies.

In order for communication to be effective a message has to be effectively given from one end and received and understood from another end. All too often we feel that if communicate our thoughts we have been effective in communication. But if the message is never received or understood by the person with whom we are trying to communicate, then we have not communicated: we’ve only expressed ourselves. There is nothing wrong with expressing one’s self, but cannot be assumed that everyone understands what we are expressing. Communication is a dynamic that requires that both the sender and a receiver understand the message.



It has been proven that there are many ways to communicate. Any communication research will support this fact. However, there are a number of theories about how to define those various modes of communication. I once read an insightful book that was written by Gary Chapman in the ’90’s called Love Languages. The author asserts that everyone has their own romantic language. In order for an individual to feel loved, it has to be communicated in a language that they can understand. The book offers several suggestions on love languages. The author stated that there are 5 love languages: gifts, quality time, words of affirmation, acts of service, and physical touch. Chapman has since extended his theory to include the language of apology and the language of appreciation that he angles towards workplace communication.

I don’t endeavor here to evaluate or analyze the details of the love languages (maybe in another post if the readers want it). What I am affirming is that we all communicate differently. We all experience the feeling of love differently and these messages are communicated and received differently. There is no right way to communicate.

The Problem

Most communication issues arise from a reluctance to accept that our perspective is not the only perspective. We forget that our perspective is built upon out own subjective experiences and that without those specific experiences we might have a totally different perspective.

To enter into a romantic relationship clinging only to out own perspectives is to sentence the relationship to death. Two completely different people cannot exist under the consideration of only one person’s perspective. Both parties have to be willing to learn, understand, and accept a perspective outside their own no matter how preposterous it may seem individually.

Emotions are varied and personal and they must be validated in order to allow each person in the relationship to blossom and feel safe exposing their personal feelings. When either person does not feel this freedom, they are emotionally backed into a corner and pressured to commit emotional suicide. It denies them their right to think for themselves and feel whatever they feel. It tells them that the feelings that are very real to them are wrong. And that will force them to choose their own emotional survival over the relationship. There isn’t a creature alive that doesn’t choose to fight with all their might to save themselves from death.


The Point

If we could get over ourselves long enough to stop looking for reasons to not give and receive, we would find that communication, like love, takes effort and willingness. No two interactions will work the same and there is no universal right way to love or communicate. The goal for communication must be mutual understanding and until that goal is reached both parties have work to do. That work must be accomplished by any means necessary.

We have often said that communication is a two street. That is slightly true. Communication is two streets; however those two streets are not always parallel. Communication is more like an intersection of streets. There is the possibility of a parallel but it is just as possible that the other street is coming from an entirely opposite origin heading in a completely different direction from the one that we travel. Love is the stoplight that brings us to a halt in the midst of others and we have consider where the other car is coming from and where it is going before we can understand how we might go in the same direction towards the same destination.

I’m not sayin; I’m just sayin,

An Angry Black Man

  1. Muhala says:

    I really like the idea of love languages — whose book was that? I wanna say Gary Smalley, but I can’t be sure. It’s aways helped hubby and me (married for almost 20 years) to remember the ways we best receive love. Hubby is physical touch and I am words of affirmation. Even when these don’t come naturally to us (it’s more natural for him to touch and for me to verbally affirm), it’s important to remember we must be conscious of the ways our spouse receives love best and continue to build him/her up in these areas. Thanks for a thoughtful post. 🙂

    • DesiBjorn says:

      Gary Chapman is the author. But I thought it was very insightful the first time I read the book. I think I may do a review of his theory and the book. I’m glad you responded since you have read the book. So…I have a few questions for you:

      How did you and your husband come to find the book?
      Did you both feel the book was accurate or did one of you have to convince the other?
      How did you revise your communication to handle having different languages?

      Thanks for reading and responding.

      • Muhala says:

        Oh gosh…I’m not sure we read the whole book through. We covered the major points in a Sunday School class for married couples we had YEARS ago. I just remember liking the whole concept, as did my husband. We found out about the book through that class.

        We never had to convince the other. We both thought Chapman was on point. It made sense to me now why quality time and physical touch were so important to my husband. I began to be conscious of touching him (rubbing his arm or something, let’s say) as I walked by — it communicated love to him. Likewise, he understood that my need to be built up and praised made me feel more loved. He’s really great about this, too.

        I think in all, the book made us more aware of what we could do to directly impact our marriage. Hubby is not shy, so he never had a problem saying, “I need more of this, or I need more of that.” I am not always great at communicating my needs, but here was this author saying, “hey, it’s okay that she needs this. It’s really legitimate.” Though he is pretty good at affirming, recently I told him the specific areas I want to be affirmed (more) in. He felt bad that he had slipped, but I know he meant no harm. He is always attentive, so our communication of our needs is pretty good now…better. I think time and trust are a big part of that.

      • DesiBjorn says:

        Wow…that’s awesome! I love hearing stories like this. That’s what I was trying to touch on in this post is that it’s okay for someone communicate differently or have different needs or have different ways that we need to be communicated with. All too often we judge a persons needs which is offensive and counterproductive. When, as you said, these minor adjustments can have a direct and immediate impact on the relationship.

        Big Ups to you and your hubby!

      • Muhala says:

        Thanks…I love us! 🙂

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