Falling in Love Without Falling into Bed

» Posted on Apr 12, 2011 in Articles | Comments Off on Falling in Love Without Falling into Bed

I read a book this year that I found fascinating and extremely helpful in my writing even though it isn’t a book about writing. It is The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman. As people speak different verbal languages, they can also communicate in different love languages which leads to problems in a relationship. Just imagine if you only spoke French and your spouse only spoke English. There definitely could be problems that develop. This can be used by a writer to hike up the tension between the hero and heroine. We can use this as part of our conflict between them. Then we can use the journey to learn the other’s love language as part of our plot, too. Chapman has concluded from years of being a marriage counselor that people express their love in five different ways.

But first we need to understand the five love languages in order to use them effectively. As Gary Chapman has stated the “in love” feelings don’t last in a relationship. Then we are left with learning how to live together and love each other without the “in love” obsession. The goal is to be number one to a special someone–chosen to be love by that person. When we begin to feel in a relationship that we aren’t special to the other, then we look elsewhere for it. Human beings need to feel loved and cherished. Perhaps this is the reason we have a 50% divorce rate in this country. Some people don’t look beyond the “in love” obsession we experience when we first are in a relationship.

The first love language is words of affirmation. Verbally telling someone how you feel is a powerful communication device for a lot of people.

In The Cinderella Plan, my October Love Inspired, Anne, my heroine, has never had words of affirmation from her parents and yearns for that in a relationship. Caleb gives her that throughout the book which is one of the reasons she falls in love with him when she doesn’t think it would ever work between them.

“Have you ever wanted to be someone different?” she asked, realizing she was asking a question that could open a door she wished would remain closed.

“No. How about you?”

“Yes.” Many times, she silently added, not brave enough to say it out loud.

“Who do you want to be that you aren’t?”

Beautiful, accomplished, outgoing, charming, she thought but again she couldn’t voice those traits. “I wish I wasn’t so shy,” she answered, settling on a small part of the whole.

Caleb angled around so he was facing her on the couch. “How do you see yourself?”

“Shy, quiet, hardworking.”

“Do you know how I see you? Beautiful, warm, caring with a quiet wit.”

“You do? Beautiful has never been used to describe me,” she said, latching onto the first word in his description.

“There’s more to the word beautiful than what a person sees with his eye. I do think you are beautiful physically but also inside. I’ve seen a woman who cares enough about a little boy that she has reached out to him. I’ve seen a woman who volunteers two evenings a week to hold babies because they need her love. I’ve seen a woman take some teenage girls under her wing and make them work as a team.”

Anne brought a hand up to touch her hot cheek. She’d never felt more womanly than in that moment. Caleb’s words caused her heart to soar, and it felt as if she were floating on air. “All my life I have felt less than perfect.”

“Who’s perfect? Jesus was the only one who roamed this Earth who was perfect. Everyone else is less than perfect. I don’t even want to tell you all the mistakes I’ve made.”

As you can see in this excerpt Caleb’s words fulfill something Anne has never had before. But a word of caution here. The words need to match the tone or the actions of the person saying them. If they don’t, the tone or action will be what’s believed. Again this can be used in your writing. What is said must sound sincere, if not it won’t be believed. A distant look in your hero’s eye when he tells the heroine he loves her or a neutral expression on his face will negate the words. It doesn’t even have to be a frown to get the point across to the heroine that maybe he doesn’t really mean what he is saying. The man who tells his partner he loves her then goes out and cheats on her is another example of saying one thing while doing another. Believe me the words will lose their effect quickly.

A mature love doesn’t keep score–who is right, who is wrong. Forgiveness is the cornerstone of deep love. Love doesn’t make demands of the other. It makes requests and expresses wants. Demands drive a love one away. All we want is to be appreciated. As I’ve said, it’s a basic human need.

You can use demands from one character on another to drive a wedge between them. In Courage to Dream my hero demanded the heroine settle in his town, to give up her dream to open her own restaurant in New York. In the defense of the hero he couldn’t see himself living anywhere but Magnolia Blossom where his roots were firmly planted and the heroine didn’t know how to settle in one place for any length of time. But this demand drove a wedge between them.

Another way you can use the language of affirmation for conflict is the strong, silent hero meeting the heroine who’s primary language is words of affirmation. The story can be the hero learning the gradual love language of affirmation until in the end he tells her how he feels about her. That doesn’t mean he didn’t tell her in other ways. He may be a person who does acts of service and is constantly doing things for the heroine but she doesn’t see that as love while he does. He doesn’t understand why she doesn’t see that he loves her. See the conflict that can arise from this.

I just recently talked with a friend who has been dating a man for ten months and loves him very much. But they are having problems. He won’t say he loves her even though she feels he does in his actions. It bothers her a lot, however, that he can’t say the words when it is easy for her to. We talked about his love language being acts of service while hers is words of affirmation. Because they are speaking two different love languages there have been problems in their relationship as they are getting more serious. Again as a writer we can utilize this in our books to heighten the conflict and emotional stakes.

Love language number two is quality time. In other words, you want undivided attention where you are the focal point. This doesn’t mean two people sitting in front of the TV watching a show together. Part of quality time is quality conversation. It focuses on what we are hearing, tapping into the other’s feelings, reading body language and not interrupting the other but letting him say his peace. It involves active listening–to understand the other’s wants and thoughts. Good listening means eye contact when talking, full attention on the other–not doing something else while listening. But not only should you actively listen but you should also talk, expose yourself emotionally to the other.
Another aspect of quality time besides quality conversation is quality activities. It is not important what you do as much as why. But I will say, at least one of you should want to do the activity if not both. It’s the togetherness that is the object, though. In When Dreams Come True, my Love Inspired for April 2006, Zoey doesn’t care what she does with Dane just so long as they spend time together, but he’s driven to rid the world of drug dealers and spend so much of his time devoted to that rather than their relationship. It has nearly destroyed their marriage. She feels she comes in second in his life.

In Sadie’s Hero I had a workaholic falling in love with a woman who needed a man’s time to feel special in his life. This, of course, created problems for the hero and heroine, leading to the black moment.

Andrew surged to his feet. “Yes. We do need to talk.” He strode to the large picture window that afforded him a wonderful view of Cimarron City. “I told you from the beginning I had no time for a relationship, that my life would be tied up with my work. That hasn’t changed, Sadie.”

His back was to her and she needed to see what was in his eyes. She walked to him and leaned back against the windowsill, fingertips digging into the ledge. “So what was December all about?”

“It was a lull in my busy schedule because of the holidays. Even IFI slows down at that time of year.” He ran his hand through his hair, then rubbed the back of his neck. “I don’t want to disappoint you again like I did Saturday night.”

“I see.”

“Do you? Do you really see?”

“Yes, I do. You’re afraid to make a commitment. I believe you use your work as an excuse to justify to yourself that you have no time for anyone in your life. That’s easier than risking getting hurt in a relationship.”

“You have it all figure out.”

“No, far from it, but I do know one thing. I’m not perfect. I have faults and that’s okay. I used to think it wasn’t, that no one could see my flaws and still like me. These past few months I’ve come to realize differently. I have to be with a man who will commit to me one hundred percent. You can’t do that and I think you’re right that we should end whatever we had between us.”

Andrew straightened, quickly scrambling to conceal the anger that had flashed into his eyes. “Good. Then we agree.”

Sadie started for the door, determined to remain in control. “Oh, by the way, Jollie wants Chris to apply for a position in the receiving department when it opens up.”

“I’ll look into it,” came his cold reply.

At the door she paused and said, “I’m gonna ask you again. Have you thought about what you’ll have in say ten or twenty years? Will it be enough to satisfy you? What happens when you retire and there is no more work?”

Sadie grew up with a father who was a workaholic. She’d never really felt loved by him. In this excerpt you can see that she needs quality time as a demonstration of love and it doesn’t look like Andrew is capable of giving her that which creates conflict and tension for them.

Receiving gifts is love language number three. This is the easiest to learn and doesn’t have to cost a lot. It doesn’t have to be a gift you buy. It can be a gift of your presence. It’s a powerful gift. This one is very important especially in a crisis if your primary love language is receiving gifts.

In Light in the Storm, my April Love Inspired, Samuel loves Beth, but he lets her go because she has always desired to travel and see the world, and she is finally free to do that after her last sibling she raised has gone. He gives her that gift of freedom even though it tears him up inside to see her leave.

Love language number four is acts of service. This is shown through doing something needed or wanted by your love one. As I’ve said earlier, demands won’t work but request allow your love one to give freely. If you force someone to do something for you, resentment grows instead of love. As a writer we can use demands to reinforce the conflict between the hero and heroine.
There are certain ground rules that should be followed in a relationship in regards to acts of service:

1) no persuasion by fear,
2) no manipulating a person with guilt, and
3) no treating a person as an object (doormat).

In A Mother for Cindy Jesse is the town matchmaker who decides she needs to find a mother for Cindy which means a wife for the little girl’s dad, Nick. She tries several times to fix him up unsuccessfully. He doesn’t realize what she is doing, and later when he finds out, he is livid with her because he doesn’t want to get married again. I used her primary language, acts of service, to cause tension in the book.

In order to be successful with a love language you may have to ignore male/female stereotypes. A man may need to help with the housework. In one of my Love Inspired Suspense books the heroine comes to the hero’s rescue and saves his life. She is out of her element in the jungle, which is his territory, but she is the one who alerts him to the danger of a caiman in the river and they get to safety before it strikes.

The last love language is physical touch. We communicate with physical touch, both the emotions of love and hate. Listen to your spouse in determining which physical touch pleases him the most. What brings you pleasure may not be the same so it’s important to discover your love one’s. I have to admit I have a lot of touching in my books–a hand on an arm, holding hands, an arm around a shoulder, a hand to a face, a kiss–because I come from a Southern family where this was important. We gave hugs in greeting.

In time of crisis this love language can be particularly important. It communicates love and acceptance when a person’s needs it the most.

In The Power of Love the heroine’s ex-husband has let down his son and not come to see him on his birthday. She turns to the hero for comfort.

Rebecca shook her head. “I don’t understand how he can do this to Peter. He’s just a little boy.” Tears glistened in her eyes, blurring her vision.

Gabriel came to her and drew her into his embrace. “I’m sorry, Rebecca.”

She had done so well until he touched her and held her close. The comfort of his arms, his soft, soothing words, opened the dam holding her tears. They spilled out unchecked. She cried, soaking his shirt, the faint thump of his heartbeat close to her ear, a rhythmic sound enticing her to find peace. She felt the calming stroke of his hand on her back and couldn’t shake the sensation that she had come home, that this man would protect and support her.

Again I can’t stress how important a gentle touch in time of need can be a powerful tool to use as a writer to show two people falling in love. How could Rebecca turn away from someone like Gabriel?

So many problems in a relationship are from the lack of emotional needs being met. Your characters must learn the other’s primary love language. Emotions drive a woman’s desire so it’s important to meet those needs, to show her she is loved and appreciated. For the man desire has a physical basis.

You can use the primary love language negatively, and it will be worse because it is your primary love language.

In A Family for Tory the heroine doesn’t allow men to get too close because she had been raped and yet she married Slade to give his daughter a home. He speaks one love language that she isn’t capable of hearing. He finally reaches the end of his patience.

“Tory, I’m so sorry some people are narrow-minded.” A nerve twitching in his jaw line, he gathered her into his arms and pressed her against his T-shirt clad chest.

For a few seconds Tory allowed herself to seek comfort in his embrace, his hand stroking the length of her back. Then their intimate situation engulfed her in sensations she wasn’t ready to experience, not when she could replay all the hurtful things said about her. Panic surged to the foreground. She wedged her arms up between them and shoved away.

“No!” She scrambled from the bed and snatched up her robe. “Please, I’ll sleep on the couch in the den. This won’t work.”

Tory fled the bedroom. Her heartbeat hammered against her rib cage while her breathing became shallow gasps. She escaped into the den, the silence of the house a balm that sought to soothe her tattered nerves. Thank goodness Slade hadn’t followed her. She couldn’t have handled a confrontation with all that had happened lately.

Using a throw pillow to cushion her head, she curled up on the couch and tried to sleep. But in her mind’s eye all she could see was Mrs. Clayton the other day watching her with a narrowed gaze and an expression of contempt. Tory had done nothing wrong, so why did she feel so dirty and humiliated? But memories of Brandon’s trial only confirmed those feelings. There had been times she felt she had been on trial instead of him.

Tory twisted on the couch, trying to get comfortable. In the dark she saw the digital clock tick off minutes–way too slowly. Around four she finally surrendered to sleep, her exhaustion overcoming her racing mind.

* * *

Tory bolted straight up on the couch when she heard a knock at the den door. “Come in.” Swinging her legs to the floor, she ran her fingers through her hair and straightened her pajamas and robe.

Slade stood framed in the doorway, no expression on his face. “I wanted to tell you that Mindy and I are leaving for Cimarron City in a few minutes. I can’t keep acting like everything is all right between us when it isn’t.”

In this excerpt the reader sees how important that physical connection is to Slade. Every time Tory rejected his touch, turned away from it, he felt she was saying she didn’t love him. There comes a point when he has no more hope they can make their marriage work.

Another technique as a writer that you can use is to have a character use a love language that doesn’t come naturally to him. This can become an important moment in your book. In When Dreams Come True when Dane finally reveals how he really feels to Zoey, their marriage has a good chance of working. He isn’t shutting her out of his life but sharing a part of himself. Zoey realizes how important that moment is in their relationship.

In A Family for Tory Tory has to make the first move toward Slade in order to show him she has worked through her aversion to being touched at the end of the book. It was her ultimate expression of her love for him.

In the hallway by her bedroom Slade drew her into his arms, his mouth claiming hers. When he pulled back, he whispered, “I love you, Tory,” then gave her a quick kiss on the lips before releasing her and heading toward his bedroom.

Dazed, Tory watched him walk away. “But what about–”

He swung around, his hand on his doorknob. “As I told you before, you’re in control. You’re calling the shots. The next step is up to you.”

The quiet click of his door as he closed it resounded in the hall. The silence of the house cloaked her in a feeling of safety. She glanced at her door then at his. Chewing on her bottom lip, she thought about her ride to the ranch, about her conversations earlier with Susan and Slade and knew what she wanted to do more than anything. She walked to his door and pushed it open.

He turned toward her, a smile of welcome on his face. She shut the door and flew into his embrace.

Some psychological necessities humans need are security, self worth and significance. Love is important to these. Without love we may never feel this. It helps heighten these feelings in us. Love enhances a relationship by creating an environment of security where conflicts are resolved without judgment. That’s what our stories are about, developing the lasting love between a man and a woman so when the reader closes our books she believes the couple will remain together.

We, as writers, need to show the couple not only falling in love but becoming friends who give each other emotional support and speak to the heart of the other one-in other words speak their love language. You don’t have to have your couple falling into bed to fall into love. Using emotions heighten the sexual tension between two people more than where his hand is or his mouth. Don’t get me wrong the sexual aspect of a marriage is important. It’s a beautiful way to show your love. But when I write my love stories, they are usually about two people who have just met. I concentrate on the couples connecting emotionally and becoming the other’s best friend. Those two aspects of a relationship are important to having a strong, lasting marriage. We all want to feel we are number one in our partner’s life. So as writers writing love stories, we need to show that in our hero and heroine’s life.