Love Languages

14 02 2011

During our 18 years of marriage, my husband and I have read many relationship books to help improve our marriage. One of the books that have had an exceedingly profound impact on our lives was “The Five Love Languages” by Gary Chapman. With Valentine’s Day here, I thought I would share what we learned.

Everyone has a love language; you may have a primary and a secondary. Many times, we will try to communicate our love to our partner based on our own love language and then we don’t understand why this person doesn’t feel loved by us. For example, my husband’s love languages are quality time and physical touch. For me, words of affirmation and acts of service are my love languages. When I buy him cards (which would be “words of affirmation–my love language), although he appreciates them, they don’t make him feel deeply loved. When we would quality time together, I was fulfilling his need, however, mine went unnutured. When he let me sleep late without me having to ask, or would tell me how proud he was of me for doing XYZ, my heart swelled. At that moment, I never felt more in love with my husband. That is how you can recognize the differences between the love languages.

My husband and me on our wedding day

My husband and me on our wedding day


After you read the book, you think to yourself, now that just seems too obvious, why didn’t I get this? Recognizing what your love language is and making an effort to do that every day are two very different things.

He also has a chapter for parents and their kids. You often hear parents saying, “I raised them exactly the same way and this one turned out differently from this one.” Likely the one who turned out well was the one whose love language was being met. Let’s say child 1 likes quality time and child 2 likes words of affirmation. If you spend quality time with both of them, child 1 is going to feel loved, but if you never say affirming words to child 2, they will appreciate the quality time, but won’t feel truly loved.

Love Language #1:  Words of Affirmation. These are verbal compliments or words of appreciation, like “You look sharp in that suit.” “You must be the best potato cook in the world. I love those potatoes.” These are encouraging words (how can I help?), kind words, and humble words. If this is your significant other’s language, then help improve your relationship by writing “Words are Important” as a reminder, writing down all the words of affirmation you gave to your spouse and then reviewing it at the end of the week to see how well you have done (or not). If you are clueless as to what to say look in the media and observe people in conversation and write down things people say. Write a love letter, paragraph, or sentence, compliment your significant other in the presence of parents or friends, look for your significant other’s strengths and tell him/her how much your appreciate those strengths, tell your children how great their mother/father is.

Love Language #2:  Quality Time. Go places together, do things together, sit quietly together (not necessarily together but at least in the same room). For example, a father sitting on the floor rolling a ball to his child, the focus is not on the ball, but the child. If the father, however, is talking on the phone, then his attention is diverted and this is not being together. It also can include quality conversation, sharing thoughts, feelings and desires without distractions. If this is your significant other’s language, some suggestions are to ride bikes together and go to a park and watch the ducks, roll on to the rose gardens, find out what each other’s favorites plants are and why. Surprise your significant other with an impromptu lunch, ask him/her what their favorite activity is and join her/him in this activity and learn more about it. Ask questions “Who was your best and worst teacher at school and why? and other questions like that. Have a picnic in the living room and talk like you did when you were dating.

Love Language #3:  Receiving Gifts. Gifts must be purchased, found or made. Some gifts are expensive, others are free. If this is your significant other’s language, you could stop along the roadside and pick a bouquet of wildflowers or you can make a card. There is also the gift of self.

Love Language #4: Acts of Service. This is when your significant other does things for you without having to be asked. If this is your significant other’s language, you should ask what four things that you could do that would make her/him feel loved. If they are within reason to you, then you should do them with joy and with love, not done out of fear, guilt or resentment.

Love Language #5: Physical Touch. This would include holding hands, kissing, embracing, etc. Obviously, if this is your loved one’s love language, you need to do more of it. However, the author cautions not to think that a desire to have sex means your love language is physical.

To help you figure out what they are, he says to ask yourself these questions:

1. What does your significant other do or fail to do that hurts you most deeply. The opposite of what hurts you is probably your love language.

2. What have you most often requested of your significant other? The thing you have most often requested is likely the thing that would make you feel most loved.

3. Finally, in what way do you regularly express love to your spouse? Your method of expressing love may be an indication that that would also make you feel loved.

What is/are your love language(s)?



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