There’s an unspoken language that we speak in our relationships every day: our love language. You may have heard this term before, originally coined by Dr. Gary Chapman in his 1995 book The Five Love Languages.
Have you ever found yourself feeling disconnected or unappreciated in a romantic relationship? According to Chapman, it’s possible that you and your partner have different love languages—the ways in which we speak and understand emotional love. Often, we try to express our love for our partner in a way that we know would make us happy, but those actions don’t necessarily have the same effect for our partners.
For many couples undergoing counseling, discovering their love languages and communicating them with one another leads to better understanding and intimacy.
The five love languages are:
1) Words of Affirmation
Words of affirmation are kind words and compliments that help us to verbally express our love and appreciation to our partners. Intrinsically, humans want to feel appreciated. What words make your partner light up when you say them? Do they want to be complimented on their physical appearance, their intelligence, their hard work? A basic understanding of the things your partner values may help you to understand the kind of words of affirmation they need to hear.
2) Receiving Gifts
Gift giving is one of the easiest languages to learn. For those of us who speak this language, receiving gifts isn’t necessarily about the monetary value of a gift. For many, being able to physically hold an object that then becomes a symbol of love makes us feel appreciated. You may think, “I don’t buy gifts, it’s not who I am.” That discovery is the first step in becoming a better lover. If your partner’s love language is to receive gifts, you can learn to become a gift giver.
3) Acts of Service
Acts of service are more commonly referred to as “the little things.” Taking the time to empty the dishwasher or take out the garbage without your partner having to ask are considered acts of service because they are things your partner would like you to do. If this is your partner’s love language, they will almost always notice your acts of service, no matter how small.
4) Physical Touch
Physical touch is a powerful medium for communicating intimate love. For people who speak this love language, kissing, embracing, intercourse and other physical connection help them to feel secure in the relationship. Without it, these individuals will feel unloved. If physical touch is your partner’s primary language but perhaps you are less physically inclined, there are small ways you can keep the connection. You may develop a ritual to kiss each other goodbye each morning, or touch your partner as you walk by them in the kitchen.
5) Quality Time
As a love language, quality time does not mean simply being together, doing things. Quality time means giving your partner your undivided attention—sitting with them in deep conversation, going out to a romantic dinner without your cellphones around to distract you, or taking a walk together in the evening. Those who value quality time know that time is the most precious commodity we have. If your partner can give you their time, there is no greater act of love and appreciation.
While being aware of the five love languages is a good first step to improve your relationship, it is sometimes challenging for couples to identify and communicate their own love languages with one another. In couples counselling, partners learn to realize their partner’s emotions, wants and needs and develop strategies to provide one another with the type of love they require.
Contact Your Counselling today for a free consultation or to book your first counselling appointment.