The 5 Love Languages
The 5 Love Languages, by Gary Chapman, describes the ways different people give and feel love and how couples can use this understanding to improve their relationship. Many of the problems married couples face today are simply a result of feeling and expressing love in different ways.
Love is important in order to live a a full and fulfilling life. The author suggests a way to measure love in order to gauge whether your emotional needs are being met. This is done by paying attention to your love tank. Just as a car can’t drive without gas, you can’t function without love, and if your need for love and affection isn’t adequately met you’ll end up with an empty tank. Keeping your love tank full is an essential component of a healthy marriage or relationship. All solid relationships require fuel.
Every relationship starts with a honeymoon period. Eventually, the euphoria of falling in love starts to fade. This initial phase clouds our judgment. Suddenly, when this stage is over traits that you found cute in the beginning start to annoy you. When the honeymoon period is over the only way to strengthen your relationship and enjoy long-lasting love is through communication.
The first phase of attraction that gets relationships started is called the in-love phenomenon. An in-depth study performed by psychologist Dorothy Tennov showed that the average lifespan of most relationships that centered around romance was only two years! The reason is that once the excitement of falling in love wears off reality starts to set in. To survive this difficult transition it’s essential for every couple to build an emotional atmosphere that lets them work through differences and fulfill each other’s emotional needs. The first step in building a relationship based on real love after this first phase is based on effective communication. So, as this feeling of infatuation fades, it’s essential for couples to work on emotional communication that can sustain their relationship over the long haul.
The author explains that there are five different languages or ways to express love. Different people feel and express love differently and in order to have a good relationship or marriage, it is very important to understand how you and your partner communicate. You need to understand your partner’s love language in order to enjoy a loving long-lasting relationship.
It’s uncommon for a person’s love language to correspond exactly with that of their partner. Therefore, this requires couples to devote the necessary time to discover the nuances of one another’s love language. Once you reach this understanding you will be able to fill your partner’s love tank. This will help both you and your partner excel while supporting your relationship.
How do you identify which love language your partner is speaking?
Words of Affirmation
The first language of love is words of affirmation. These are words of admiration, praise and encouragement. How do you speak this love language? You simply give verbal compliments. This is most effective when done in a simple and straightforward manner. For instance, you might tell your partner that they look great in a new outfit, praise their ability to do something or tell them how much you appreciate their sense of humor.
You can check out our list of love affirmations for inspiration and adapt them to your partner. Keep the affirmation list in your journal and scan them once in a while to get ideas if complimenting doesn’t come naturally to you.
Words of affirmation can also be very useful when you want to request something from your partner. When requests are heard as demands, the potential for intimacy deflates and you risk scaring your partner off. So, it’s important to make sure your words are interpreted as a request, meaning you’re giving guidance, not an ultimatum. Instead of nagging your partner to do something that they are not doing, compliment him every time he does something you like. Giving verbal compliments is a much better incentive than criticism.
The second language of love is quality time. How do you speak this language? Spend quality time with your partner and give them your undivided attention. It’s not enough to simply be together in the same room. Quality time is about focusing on your partner and nothing else, even if there are distractions in the background. Spending quality time with your partner is a great way for both of you to feel loved, respected and appreciated. It isn’t enough to simply be next to each other. You have to either engage in quality conversations or do quality activities together. A quality activity is something that one or both people want to be doing. It’s not so much about the event as it is an opportunity to express love for each other.
When you are with your partner maintain eye contact. When your partner is talking to you, stop doing whatever you were doing and don’t interrupt. Observe your partner’s body language and listen for feelings (happy, sad, excited, worried, etc).
The third language of love is receiving gifts. Gifts are physical symbols of love that materially express the love one person has for another. Surprising your partner with regular gifts, regardless of their monetary value, is a great way to show love and affection. The gifts can be made, bought or found.
What kind of gifts should you give? If you don’t know you’re your partner would like to receive then keep track of all the presents that brought them excitement or joy over the years, whether they were from you or someone else. You can also consult friends and family who might know what your partner really wants.
For people who speak the love language of receiving gifts, monetary value is not the main focus. In fact, the value lies in the whole process – from having the idea to give a gift, to going out to get or make it and, finally, the gesture of presenting this symbol of love to your partner.
The gift can even me the gift of self – being there whenever your partner needs you.
Acts of Service
The fourth language of love is acts of service this means doing useful things for your partner.
How do you speak this language? Go out of your way to do helpful things for your partner that you know they will appreciate. It is important to note that just as you can’t demand love, you can’t demand acts of service from your partner. Nor can they from you. These acts of service need to be voluntary. So, instead of asking what your partner can do for you, ask what you can do for your partner.
Your partner’s criticisms about your behavior provide you with the clearest clue to his/her primary love language. People tend to criticize their partner most often in the area where they themselves have the deepest emotional need.
The fifth language of love is physical touch. If physical touch is your partner’s main language of love, you can communicate your love through physical touch – things like holding hands, kissing, hugging, etc. Make an effort to touch your partner whenever you can. You must touch your partner in a manner that feels good to them. If you are not sure then ask.
How do you tell which is your primary love language?
Ask yourself what you most often request of your partner. It’s likely that the things you ask for the most are the things that you find most emotionally fulfilling.
What comes to mind when you want to feel truly appreciated? Perhaps it’s spending time with someone or receiving praise.
Once you know what feels good, consider what your partner does or failed to do that hurts you. Sometimes analyzing what caused you pain can help you to find your love language.
Once you pinpoint your and your partner’s love languages, be sure to use that understanding to improve your relationship. After all, communication is what true love is all about.