What’s your Love Language?

relationship Jul 05, 2012

One of the best things I did in preparation for my recent wedding was to attend a 6-week marriage prep course. This course was amazing and in my opinion, the most important thing I did prior to getting married. More important than any floral arrangements, colour coordinating, dress fitting, license registrations, etc. (although I am sure some brides-to-be would disagree). 

In one of the sessions, my then fiancé and I were introduced to The 5 Love Languages. It is based on a book by Dr. Gary Chapman. It basically gives you the secret to making your special someone feel loved, and bring the joy back into your marriage/relationship by learning their right love language. 

Dr. Gary Chapman, in his 30+years of counseling, noticed a set of patterns from those he counseled as a primary way people expressed and interpreted love. More than likely, you have a different love language than your partner.  The five key categories or the 5 love languages are: Words of Affirmation, Quality Time, Receiving Gifts, Acts of Service, and Physical Touch (see full descriptions of each at the end of reading).

This was a real eye-opener for my husband and me because it highlighted the reason the love and appreciation one of us tried to show to the other was sometimes missed.   We were asked to fill out a questionnaire that illustrated how we valued certain actions from our mates (Check out Dr. Gary Chapman’s on-live assessment to find out your love language here).  Based on your answers, it showed your love language pattern. Why is that so important? Well for me, my love language was “words of affirmation” and my partner’s was “acts of service.”  This really helped me understand why when I came home upset about something, feeling tired and deflated, and all I wanted for him to do was sit with me and tell me “everything is great and will work out,” he would run upstairs and do chores around the house. This used to drive me nuts because I would think to myself “What the heck is he doing? Here I am upset and he is upstairs cleaning?!?!” Well, I came to understand from his answers that his love language is through acts of service. Because I was down, he showed me love through doing chores. This did not end with him.  I came to understand that when he was upset, I would try to have him “talk it out with me” but that was the last thing he wanted to do.  Because my love language was words of affirmation, I would feel disappointment that I was unable to help him with his problems.  Interestingly enough, he would light up when I did things for him.

Knowing your partner’s love language helps you to understand their need for love better. It helps you to “speak the same language” and to love them the way that they understand.  Most importantly, it allows both of you to interpret and value the love you show one another.

So my challenge to you is to get to know your love language and your partner’s love language.  See if you can embark on the path to a better understanding of your partner. You will save yourself a lot of frustrations and disappointments as a result!

Summary of 5 Love Language

Words of Affirmation

Actions don’t always speak louder than words. If this is your love language, unsolicited compliments mean the world to you. Hearing the words, “I love you,” are important—hearing the reasons behind that love sends your spirits skyward. Insults can leave you shattered and are not easily forgotten. 

Quality Time

In the vernacular of Quality Time, nothing says, “I love you,” like full, undivided attention. Being there for this type of person is critical, but really being there—with the TV off, fork and knife down, and all chores and tasks on standby—makes your significant other feel truly special and loved. Distractions, postponed dates, or the failure to listen can be especially hurtful. 

Receiving Gifts

Don’t mistake this love language for materialism; the receiver of gifts thrives on the love, thoughtfulness, and effort behind the gift. If you speak this language, the perfect gift or gesture shows that you are known, you are cared for, and you are prized above whatever was sacrificed to bring the gift to you. A missed birthday, anniversary, or a hasty, thoughtless gift would be disastrous—so would the absence of everyday gestures. 

Acts of Service

Can vacuuming the floors really be an expression of love? Absolutely! Anything you do to ease the burden of responsibilities weighing on an “Acts of Service” person will speak volumes. The words he or she most wants to hear: “Let me do that for you.” Laziness, broken commitments, and making more work for them tell speakers of this language their feelings don’t matter. 

Physical Touch

This language isn’t all about the bedroom. A person whose primary language is Physical Touch is, not surprisingly, very touchy. Hugs, pats on the back, holding hands, and thoughtful touches on the arm, shoulder, or face—they can all be ways to show excitement, concern, care, and love. Physical presence and accessibility are crucial, while neglect or abuse can be unforgivable and destructive. 

Taken from The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love That Lasts” by Gary Chapman; used with permission of Northfield Publishing.

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