The Five Love Languages: 3 Tips To Improve Your Relationship
Do you like showering your partner with compliments? Or, do you prefer buying them gifts? Perhaps you prefer touching and caressing them. Or, maybe you are more the type that likes to spend quality time together. We all have diverse ways with which we like to express and receive love. We all have different love languages.
What are the Love Languages in Relationships?
According to Dr. Gary Chapman, the five love languages are the five different ways of expressing and receiving love. Not all of us express love in the same way. While some might express it through physical touch, others might express it with gifts. Oftentimes, we might be receiving love from another person, but as we do not know that the other person is speaking in a different language, we might not even notice. This is why it is important to learn what our own love language is, AND also what our partner's way of expressing love is. Sometimes we tend to use one language more often, and we think that our partner understands that this is our love language and that they will reciprocate in the same language. However, the problem starts when our partner does not know that this is our love language, and does not know that they are expected to reciprocate in the same language. And, the problem continues if we do not address this miscommunication. So, let's delve into the world of love languages to better understand them and use them in our relationships.
The 5 Types of Love Languages
Dr. Gary Chapman identified five different ways with which people express and receive love. They include:
1. Words of affirmation
The first love language is words of affirmation. This encompasses phrases such as: "I love you." But, it also refers to words of gratitude (e.g., thank you), or simply saying how much you appreciate the help and support from the other person. It can also look like verbal encouragement, or sharing compliments to each other. These words of affirmation can be expressed verbally (aka saying it to each other), or might be expressed through text-messages. Sometimes life gets busy and in the way, so there are many hours that we might spend not seeing our partners. In these cases, we can express our love with words of affirmations through text.
It may sound simple, but there are many couples that have stopped sharing compliments and words of affirmation for a long time. It is often the case that the last time they shared these words was years ago, and now they have actually completely forgotten how to do it, or how important it is to do it.
2. Quality time
The second love language is quality time. When sharing time together do you simply sit next to each other watching TV, or eat without talking? Ask yourself: how do we spend our time in a quality way? It is often the case that a person with this love language is asking themselves this very question. This love language is about undivided attention. It is about not being on your phone, watching TV, reading a book, or talking to somebody else. It is about showing with your behaviour that your partner has your full attention. Showing them that you are present and focusing on them solely. In order to show this love language, try to put down your cellphone, turn off your tablet or TV, keep eye contact with them, and practice active listening. Simply show that you are deeply and authentically interested in them. Show them that you are committing and that they are important right now, in this moment. This is quality time.
3. Acts of service
The third love language is acts of service. This is when you offer to do the groceries, do the laundry for your partner, bring them soup when they are sick, offer to pick up the kids, or make them coffee while they are working. This is when you show to your partner that you value them through your actions. You are showing your love through your actions and help. This is when you tell them "I love doing little things for you because I love you."
The fourth type of love language is gift-giving. This is another way with which we can express our love to our partner. However, it does not mean you have to buy them an expensive gift. It means that while you are doing groceries, you might see your partner's favourite chocolate and buy it for them. That is a small gift that conveys a powerful message: I thought about you and bought it because I love you and know how much you like it. Again, it is not about the size of the gift; it is more about the meaning behind the gift. There is a special meaning behind buying a gift; you are not buying just any gift, you are buying something that you know that your partner loves. You are actually telling them that "that's how much I know you. I know what you like, and I would love to show you that by buying you a gift that you will be excited about." People with this type of love language also tend to remember (almost) every single gift they have received from you—demonstrating how much they appreciate and value gift-giving.
5. Physical touch
Last but not least, the fifth love language is physical touch. This is when you express your love through physical acts of affection, including kissing, touching, caressing, massaging, cuddling, and/or sex. Physical intimacy is a very powerful way to show to your partner that you value them, that you cherish them, and that you love them. All the things we cannot express with words, we can simply convey with our body. Physical touch can be just sitting next to each other and touching each other with your arms. Or, it can be holding hands while you are walking. Or, it can be touching the back of our partner while you are at the family dinner—showing them that even though you are surrounded by people, you still miss them and still want to touch them. This can be a very powerful way to show to your partner how much you value them.
How To Improve Your Relationship with the Love Languages
So, you have learned all about the five different love languages, but what should you do next? What should you do with this new-found knowledge? Here I share some steps you can take in order to use your love language knowledge to improve your relationship.
1. Identify your love languages
The first thing you need to do is find out what your love language is. You can do this by re-reading the information about each type above, and you can try using an online quiz. After you have identified what your love language is, invite your partner to discover what their love language is. Along your journey, bear in mind that some of us might have several different love languages. We have primary love language and secondary ones. Try to discover what both of your primary love languages are. Thereafter, identify what secondary love languages both of you also have.
2. Discuss together
Once you know both your love languages, sit down and discuss with each other. Discuss how important this specific love language is for each of you, and what you specifically mean with this language. Explain why this love language is important to you, and try to bring examples of when your partner has exhibited this love language in the past. Sometimes a lot of misunderstandings happen simply because we do not know that our partner is trying to show their love. Once you know each other's love language, then you can better express and reciprocate love with each other.
3. Be patient and understanding with each other
Even if your partner now knows your love language, it does not mean that they will completely switch to that love language just because this is what you need and what makes you happy. It is possible that your partner may not be able to completely shift into your preferred love language. It is perfectly okay to remind each other of what your love language is. It is also alright to sometimes show love through several languages. For instance, if your love language is words of affirmation, but your partner's isn't, they might attempt to use their own love language, plus also words of affirmation. This is a good place to start. Try to simply understand each other and accept the other's way of expressing themselves. Now that you both know each other's love languages, when your partner does something for you, ask yourself: is this their way of telling me that they love me? Rather than trying to align both your love languages, try to understand the other's and reciprocate in their love language. Remind each other of what your love language is, and accept that while you might never always show the same love language, your partner is showing you in other ways how much they love you.
We all have different ways with which we express and receive love. Sometimes our love language might not align with the preferred language of our partner—and that's okay. As long as you both make the attempt to understand each other's languages and try to sometimes express love in the partner's preferred language, you can form a loving and fulfilling relationship. While Chapman's love language theory discusses 5 specific types, remember that you might also have other ways with which you show love and would like to receive love. That is alright too, discuss with your partner what you specifically like and ask them too what they would prefer. I hope this article helps you and your partner form a loving and lasting bond. Take care.
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