Have you ever had the experience of doing something really special for your partner then being disappointed that their reaction was not as positive and grateful as you expected? Or have you felt unloved and neglected by a partner who is always saying they love you but not spending the time with you that you crave?
The Five Love Languages is a model developed by Gary Chapman to explain how different people give and receive love in different ways. I’ve found it an extremely useful tool in my work with couples. It’s simple but effective in helping you to understand what you need from your partner and what your partner needs from you. If your partner complains they feel unloved it could be that you are each speaking a different language where love is concerned. Once you know and understand your partner’s love language you can begin to deliberately show love to them in this way – and you are likely to notice an improvement in the way they respond to you.
So how do you know what your love language is? Read the descriptions below and see which of them fits best for you. Usually people find they have more than one preferred love language, but it is rare for someone to give equal weight to all five. If you have a partner ask them to read this too and tell you which of the love languages seems most relevant to them.
The Five Love Languages (text taken from www.5lovelanguages.com)
Words of Affirmation
Actions don’t always speak louder than words. If this is your love language, unsolicited compliments mean the world to you. Hearing the words, “I love you,” is important, and being told that you are appreciated, and the things you are appreciated for are very important to you. If this is your preferred language, you will be generous with your words of affirmation and appreciation to those you love, and if you don’t received these words you may feel unloved.
If this is your preferred love language, you will enjoy doing things together with the one(s) you love. Sharing an outing or activity is important to you, not just for the sake of doing it, but of doing it together. Cancelled dates may feel particularly disappointing to you if this is your preferred way of expressing and receiving love.
Don’t mistake this love language for materialism; the receiver of gifts thrives on the love, thoughtfulness, and effort behind the gift. If you speak this language, you will probably want to give little presents to those you love, even if these are just tiny tokens costing little or nothing. A missed birthday, anniversary, or a hasty, thoughtless gift may be perceived as hurtful —so would the absence of everyday gestures.
Acts of Service
Can vacuuming the floors really be an expression of love? Absolutely! Anything you do to ease the burden of responsibilities weighing on an “Acts of Service” person will speak volumes. The words he or she most want to hear: “Let me do that for you.” Laziness, broken commitments, and making more work for them tell speakers of this language their feelings don’t matter.
A person whose primary language is Physical Touch is, not surprisingly, very touchy. This touch may be sexual if that is the nature of the relationship. However, the person who favours this language will also wish to give and receive hugs, pats on the back, holding hands, and thoughtful touches on the arm, shoulder, or face. These can all be ways to show excitement, concern, care, and love.
Any of this ringing bells yet ? Another fun way to discover your love language is for both you and your partner to write down up to 12 examples of times when you have felt loved by your partner. For example “when you cooked a special meal for my birthday”, “when you bought me flowers because I was ill”. Then share your lists with each other.
It takes effort to learn to speak your partner’s love language, it may not come naturally and you will need to make deliberate choices to do some things in a different way but it’s worth it. A person who feels love is happier and more willing to go out of their way to return that love to you.