A common “Aha!” moment I have with couples is when they realize they have been speaking the wrong love language to each other. Dr. Gary Chapman, a renowned marriage counsellor, introduced the idea that we have five different ways in which we communicate love to each other. While most of us can identify with each love language in some way, we usually have a primary language (and sometimes a secondary) which we understand to be that of love. Here are the 5 love languages and what yours says about you:
- Words of affirmation: You feel loved when your partner says encouraging words to you, whether its validating you (your efforts, your successes, your feelings), offering support, expressing heartfelt compliments, and conveying verbal affection (e.g., expressing love and appreciation).
- Acts of service: You feel loved when your partner engages in acts of helpfulness, showing you he/she cares by making your life a little easier, such as helping you with chores, offering to feed the baby so you can rest, picking up groceries on the way home, cooking dinner, helping you with a project, and so on.
- Quality time: You feel loved when your partner spends one-on-one time with you, giving you their undivided attention by being present (that is, maintaining eye contact, actively listening, and avoiding distractions) and generally offering to do things together, such as going on walks, running errands together, and prioritizing date nights.
- Physical touch: You feel loved when your partner is physically affectionate towards you, such as holding your hand when watching a movie, giving you a hug after a long day, playing with your hair, sitting close to you, and other such gestures.
- Receiving gifts: You feel loved when your partner performs gestures of gift giving – not of monetary value, rather, of symbolic value. For you, what matters is the thought and energy that was put behind the gift because it shows your partner’s care and attentiveness. Examples include making a handmade present, gifting you something related to self-care, surprising you with your favorite flowers, and bringing you a meaningful souvenir from a trip.
If you are struggling to identify which one is yours, ask yourself this: How do I usually show my love to those around me? Is it through verbal affection, appreciation, and encouragement? Is it by doing something for them? Is it by giving them my time and undivided attention? Is it through physical affection such as hugs and touch? Is it by giving thoughtful gifts? More often than not, the language you speak to convey your love to others is the language you understand when receiving love.
But what happens if your partner is speaking a different language than you because that is their love language, and not yours? What happens when both of you speak a different language and neither of you feels loved in the relationship? Read my next post to find out!