The ways that we express, experience and communicate love to our partner or spouse in a manner which they understand and makes them feel loved and wanted is known as our language of love. Dr Gary Chapman realized that we have 5 ways of communicating our love to one another, and we may have the same, complimenting ways, but more often than not we communicate differently. In order for our partner’s to show us love and understand how we experience and communicate this love, it is important to understand what language you are speaking.
Dr Chapman suggests we communicate love in the following 5 ways, with:
Words of Affirmation
Words of affirmation are compliments and positive appreciation for saying or doing something. Words of affirmation show appreciation and that you notice someone and do not take them for granted. These words will also build your partner’s or your own self-image and confidence.
- When you say how nice your partner looks
- You say how great the dinner tasted.
- When you say how proud you are of them
- When they tell you that they appreciate how hard you work
- When they tell you that they love you and appreciate your affection towards them
Receiving or giving gifts
It is a universal practice to give gifts, for any occasion, but some people feel more loved when they give or receive gifts from their partner than others. Often, for the partner who identifies with this love language, it is not about the monetary value or the size of the gift that matters, but the thought (love) that it is attached to. People who speak this love language feel even more loved when they receive a gift which is personal and thoughtful according to who they are. If someone speaks this language and their partner forgets their birthday or anniversary, they will feel completely unloved and neglected.
- A meaningful card
- Their favourite chocolate
- A piece of jewellery suited to her style
- Tickets to his favourite band
Acts of Service
Acts of service are doing things for your partner, in order to take on some responsibility that they carry. This language is a case of “actions speak louder than words.” These acts are not done begrudgingly or conditionally, but are carried out with love and with the aim of helping your partner. If your partner can help take some responsibility off you by communicating their love to you through acts of service, nothing will speak more emotionally and deeply to you than this language of love.
- Taking the kids to or fetching them from school
- Working harder to pay off family debt or support your family
- Taking out the rubbish or doing the dishes
Quality time with one another is something that many couples don’t do often – even though they may spend time together, it may not be quality time. Quality time does not have to be short or long, but rather that it should involve closeness, one-on-one contact, or conversation and intimacy. If this is one partner’s love language, they will feel loved by simply spending quality time in their partner’s company. If this is your partner’s or your love language, turn off the TV, iPad and cellphone now and show your partner some undivided attention.
- Going for a walk together
- Date night
- Interesting conversation, reminiscing and laughing together
- Offering to miss a sports game to be with her, or making an effort to cook him a romantic dinner for two.
Physical touch is everything from affection to intimacy to sex, but does not specifically denote sexual touch. The emotional power of touch is particularly important for someone who speaks this love language. Touch is an important part of love from the moment we are born, and if this is your love language, you will feel much closer to your partner and more loved by them when they are affectionate and physically loving towards you.
- Holding your partner’s hand
- Hugging and kissing them for more than just a moment when you see them at the end of the day
- A hand on their leg when you’re driving
What’s your love language?
Not sure what your or your partner’s love language is? Ask yourself the following questions:
- How do I/they express love to others?
- What do I/they complain about the most?
- What do I/they request most often?
Speaking in your partner’s love language probably won’t be natural for you as it is their language, unless you share the same love language. We may often have more than one predominant love language, or we may be equal in all the ways we show and appreciate love.
“We’re not talking comfort. We’re talking love. Love is something we do for someone else. So often couples love one another but they aren’t connecting. They are sincere, but sincerity isn’t enough (Chapman, 1995).”
You can also do the love language test online here
You don’t have to be in a relationship to complete the test either. Understanding your own love language can also help you understand what you need from a partner in order to feel loved and wanted.
Losing the love
After some years of a relationship or marriage, when the initial “spark” is starting to fade, many couples find that their “love lake” have dried up and they feel distant from each other. You might think that you are still expressing and communicating love to your partner, but in reality they may be speaking a different love language to you. So how do you refill each other’s tanks and get love spark reignited again? Find out what your partner’s love language is and express your love to them in their language, and ask them to do the same for you.