Gary Chapman has sold over 12 million copies of his book, The 5 Love Languages – The Secret to Love that Lasts. As a New York Times bestseller for ten years running, it has helped many people worldwide with their love and relationships. So what are these five languages, and how can you apply them to your own life and relationships?
- Words of affirmation
- Acts of Service
- Receiving gifts
- Quality time
- Physical touch
Words of Affirmation
It can be easy to tear a person down with the words we speak, but it is also easy to build them up if you use words of affirmation. Remember to genuinely thank someone for doing a task and be specific about why you are praising him or her. Don’t just say, “[T]hanks for helping out today.” Tell them what, specifically, you appreciated and why. “Thank you for making the bed today. I was going to do it when I got out of the shower, and I appreciate that you did it for me!” It may seem like a little thing, but being appreciated and affirmed is a big thing!
Acts of Service
Doing a chore that your spouse would typically do is providing an act of service. It is giving him or her a break from something that usually is his or her responsibility. Simple things like washing the dishes, making dinner, or taking out the garbage are all acts of service that can be appreciated. It may seem a little mundane to take out the trash and think you did something beautiful, but it can truly be a way of showing love. It is one less little thing on his or her plate for that day.
Gifts do not have to be large or expensive. A small gift shows that your spouse is thinking about you and knowing that is heart-warming. Bringing your spouse home his or her favorite chocolate bar when you do the grocery shopping shows that you were thinking of him or her, AND it shows that you know them. Small gifts like this show that you are attuned to every-day life in such a way that you can choose something little that you know will be appreciated. Choosing gifts in a favorite color, scent, or flavor will show that you know your spouse’s likes and dislikes and show that you pay attention.
Quality time is not just time together in the same room; it is time together devoid of distractions. If you are playing a board game together, keep your cell phones out of sight. Sit down and have a conversation without the television on or even music in the background. It shows that you are giving each other undivided attention and listening to what the other is saying.
Physical touch can be sexual, but it does not have to be. Kissing, holding hands, or a simple touch on the arm or shoulder all count as affection too. Physical proximity can be comforting for some people, but some may not enjoy it as much. It is essential to know which of the five love languages speaks the loudest to your spouse.
Be in the Know
Knowing which of these languages speaks the most to your partner will help to build a new relationship or strengthen an existing one. Some people like receiving gifts, but others may prefer acts of service. Everyone “speaks” a different language when it comes to love, and it is crucial to understand what your partner needs to feel appreciated and loved.
It is not always the case that you and your spouse will have the same primary love language. That is why you must learn what speaks to them to keep your love healthy. Knowing their language will help you to talk to your spouse on an emotional level. You may be sincere in what you do for your spouse, but if it does not resonate with them in the way you expect, your relationship will not grow. Being in a relationship with someone who speaks a different love language than you may mean that you need to learn a second language.
Make it About Your Partner
Remember that when showing your partner love, you need to speak his or her language. It is not about you. If you like to give gifts, but your partner likes affirmation, you need to concentrate more on that. It certainly does not mean that you can’t give gifts of appreciation as well, but you do need to speak their language and deliver what they need.
Make It About You Too
Don’t be shy about talking to your partner about the love language that is most important to you. While your partner may need affirmation, you may be more appreciative of physical touch or quality time. Make sure your partner knows what you need in return so that you are both getting what you need out of the relationship.
If your partner does not know what you need in terms of love as well, it will seem like a constant battle since you will feel like you are giving what your partner needs, but you are not getting what you need in return.
Strengthen the Bond
Discuss the five languages of love with your partner and commit to taking action. Relationships require effort from both sides, so discuss your needs and desires and make a plan to take action to strengthen your connection and keep it healthy.
“Encouragement requires empathy and seeing the world from your spouse’s perspective. We must first learn what is important to our spouse. Only then can we give encouragement. With verbal encouragement, we are trying to communicate, “I know. I care. I am with you. How can I help?” We are trying to show that we believe in him and in his abilities. We are giving credit and praise.”