How the 5 Love Languages Can Help Your Relationship
Do you sometimes feel like the way you show love to your partner isn’t always felt appreciated as much as you’d hoped? Are there things you wish your partner would do more of to make you feel loved and valued? Do you sometimes feel resentful because you don't feel your partner shows love the way that you would want?
The reason for this disconnect is that we don’t all express and receive love in the same way. Our perception of what love is and how it should be manifested differs from one person to the next. For example, does your partner buy you gifts but you'd really like them
Knowing how to give and receive love based on the 5 love languages can help our relationships immensely. By knowing what these love languages are, you’ll know how to best show your partner you love them in a way they’ll appreciate. You’ll also be able to communicate to them what types of gestures are most meaningful for you.
Join us as we go over the 5 love languages and learn how you can use this knowledge to enrich your relationships.
5 Love Languages Explained
The idea that we express and perceive love in different ways was developed and published by Dr. Gary Chapman in 1992. In his book entitled The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love That Lasts, the pastor and counselor posited that there are 5 ways in which people generally demonstrate and experience affection. While the book is a bit outdated in its content and does have some very stereotypical examples I admit, the substance of the book still stands as a good guideline to be mindful of when it comes to understanding your own emotional needs as well as trying to show your partner that you love them in the way they can feel it.
As with any component of a relationship, it's important to talk to your partner about it and see what they like, how they feel love, and listen to their emotional needs. Sadly, some people go years without addressing this and can become more distant and misunderstood, resentful and unappreciated, or isolated from each other.
These are acts of service, physical touch, receiving gifts, quality time, and words of affirmation. Let’s take a closer look at them below.
Acts of Service
People who value acts of service find gestures and demonstrations of love meaningful. A person who has this love language might find ways to be helpful through taking out the garbage, cleaning your car, getting the groceries, helping with your taxes, picking up the dry-cleaning, or cooking a special dinner.
If you want to make their day, find ways to help them. While acts of service may require more physical effort than the other love languages, it doesn’t necessarily have to be a grand gesture each time. Sometimes it's as simple as doing something nice to take the burden off their shoulders when they're having a busy day and it lets them know you want to be helpful, especially when they're stressed.
Partners whose love language is physical touch find extra meaning in physical forms of affection. They like being shown that they’re loved with hugs, kisses, hand-holding, and more. Everyone is different in what they like so you can just ask what your partner likes. Some people like public displays of affection and some prefer to be private about it so just because someone's love language is physical touch doesn't mean they want you to be really touchy with them in public. Best way is to ask here.
To make them feel valued, you can spend time with them by cuddling and showing physical affection outside the realms of sex to give them a feeling of emotional closeness. You can also ask them how they like to be touched, or make a point of holding their hand when you’re out an about or making sure you always greet them with
Does your partner often try to find thoughtful gifts for you? It may be because receiving gifts is his or her love language. People who fall under this category appreciate the thought, time, and effort that you spend in giving them gifts it's not neccesarily about the cost of the gift because it doesn’t mean that gifts need to be expensive to be valuable. On the contrary, they can be small symbols of love like poems and homemade gifts that hold special meaning for you. To the receiver, it's about the symbolism of the gift and what is represents as a gesture of love.
Read more about gift giving ideas in one of Cosmo's articles here.
Partners who value quality time are touched whenever you give them your undivided attention and affection. To make your partner feel loved and appreciated, all you have to do is make time for them and have it be special. The key here is quality over quantity. A person with this love language might not need to spend every day with you, but when you do see each other, they want it to be meaningful. Someone with this love language might want a 'date night' even if you've been together for 5 years. It's something for them to look forward to that makes them feel the focus is on the time together not on your phone, watching a movie like every other night of the week, etc.
Here’s how Chapman describes this love language : “Quality time does not mean that we have to spend our together moments gazing into each other’s eyes. It means that we are doing something together and that we are giving our full attention to the other person.”
To meet this need, ask your partner what they would like to do the next time you want to make a special evening. Do something together you both enjoy, like cooking together, or maybe going out to do an activity outside together. It's important to be present and actively listen to your partner, validate their feelings, and show that you’re focused on them. Put your phone away or switch off the television to demonstrate that what they say, do, and the time you spend together are valuable to you too.
Words of Affirmation
Words of affirmation entails expressing your affection with kind words, praise, or appreciation. If this is your partner’s love language, you can make their day by assuring them of your love for them, complimenting them, and appreciating the things they do for you.
Say things like "thank you for all that you’ve done for me,” "I couldn't have done this without you," and "your support means so much to me.” Or “I’m really proud of you and I support you.”
Why should you pay attention to your partner’s love language? Gary Chapman answered this question well by writing:
“When we choose active expressions of love in the primary love language of our spouse, we create an emotional climate where we can deal with our past conflicts and failures.”
Knowing your partner’s love language allows your relationship to become stronger and more intimate. It enables you to connect with a loved one in ways that matter to them and vice-versa.
This list probably gave you an idea of your and your partner’s love languages. If you saw yourself nodding in agreement and identifying with more than one love language, that’s perfectly normal. Most people show and accept love in many ways.
If you want to discover and validate each other’s love language, take this love language quiz.
How Do You Communicate With Your Partner?
Now that you know which love languages you and your partner respond to most, how do you communicate those needs with each other? Communication is a tricky matter for many couples. When we ask our partner to meet certain needs, it may escalate to heated arguments and fights. There is a famous quote that says:
“The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion it has taken place.” — George Bernard Shaw.
A method that many marriage counselors use is the Nonviolent Communication (NVC) theory developed by Marshall Rosenberg, an American psychologist known for his work in conflict resolution.
Also known as Compassionate Communication, Rosenberg’s 4-part process enables partners to express themselves authentically, be present, and listen with empathy.
Try following the guidelines below for sharing observations, feelings, needs, and requests while remaining nonconfrontational. This is one of the most life changing ways to communicate with anyone, but it's especially helpful with a partner.
Share observations that you're noticing without adding judgement or blame to them.
To express an observation, begin by saying “I'm seeing/hearing/noticing that...”
Share your feelings rather than your thoughts or judgements about it.
Begin by saying, “I feel…”
Express your needs more healthily by focusing on what you need from your partner. Avoid specifying a preference or certain actions.
Express a need by saying, “I need/value/it's important to me that…”
Learn to make requests and acknowledge each other’s requests without demanding.
Begin with, “Would you be willing to…?” "Could we agree to...?"
If you can, see if you can take this a step further and get your partner to engage in active listening by restating what you just said. Or, if they are speaking, hear and receive your partner’s observation, begin with “I'm hearing you say that you need .... and would like me to ......?
Practicing NVC in communication means expressing ourselves in certain ways and learning to accept messages from our partners without blame or criticism so it leaves space for them to understand you without feeling accused.
According to Chapman’s book: “Our most basic emotional need is not to fall in love but to be genuinely loved by another, to know a love that grows out of reason and choice, not instinct.”
Indeed, true love takes commitment and a lot of hard work. It means forgiving each other and hearing each other out even when it’s the last thing we want to do.
When we try to discover our partner’s love language, we’re exerting effort in understanding their needs better. Learning how to communicate those needs without being confrontational enables us to stay together and grow as a couple.
Do you use the 5 Love Languages in your relationship? Do you clearly know what your emotional needs are and how to communicate them? If you find yourself constantly disappointed, resentful, when it comes to your relationships, it could be that you're not getting your emotional needs met. If you'd like to schedule a coaching sessions to learn about your emotional needs and where they show up in your life, how they're affecting your happiness and fulfillment, or might be keeping you in spaces where you're not reaching your potential. Schedule a free 15 min discovery call with me here.
ANDREA HUNT - Online Transformational Life Coach & EFT Tapping Practitioner based in Munich, Germany
I'm an accredited transformational life coach from Animas Centre for Coaching UK and a member of the International Coaching Federation. I'm also a Level 2 practitioner in EFT Tapping (Emotional Freedom Technique) and a member of AEFTP (Association of Emotional Freedom Technique Professionals).
If you're not sure where to start transforming your life, you can download my free ebook on How to Start Your Personal Growth Journey.
Are you ready to change your life, let go of old beliefs, empower yourself for a mindset shift to move forward? Mark Batterson says: You're always one decision away from a totally different life.
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