Ever wished for a dozen long-stemmed roses and you got a frying pan? Ever given your spouse a coupon for a massage that sat in a drawer unused? Understanding your love language and that of your partner may be the key to getting each other’s needs met.
Long-time relationship expert and best-selling author Dr. Gary Chapman writes about Five Love Languages. There isn't a ton of scientific research behind it. And it may sound trite. Yet it's common sense and it works! In his books, he writes about the five love languages – five ways that we understand and communicate emotional love. While we may connect with and enjoy all of them to some degree, he theorizes that we each have a predominant style or two, and we prefer to receive love in the same way that we prefer to give it.
1. Words of Affirmation: Spoken affection, “I love you”, appreciation or compliments expresse love. Words matter. Cutting words may be hard to forget -- or forgive.
2. Acts of Service: Actions, favours, or lending a hand are used to demonstrate love. Actions hold value. Breaking a promise says you don’t care.
3. Receiving Gifts: Gift giving expresses love. Thoughtful gifts are symbols of love, regardless of price. Not taking the time to pick out something of meaning may result in a let-down.
4. Quality Time: Spending time with someone expresses love. Being there makes them feel satisfied and comforted. Being late or distractions can feel hurtful.
5. Physical Touch: Physical touch is affirming, such as holding a hand, touching an arm, backrub, hugs or kisses. Touch makes them feel safe and cared for. Physical violence is especially abhorrent.
When you know what’s important to your partner, you can eliminate frustration and disappointment, and show your love in ways that they understand, prioritize and need. It also tells you ways in which you and your partner don’t naturally express love or when their feelings might be unintentionally hurt.
If your partner’s love language is Acts of Service and yours is Receiving Gifts, you might be less frustrated when you don’t get that sparkling pendant you’ve been hinting at. You may greater appreciate all of the times he is fixing your plumbing or picking you up from work – and he will love it when you let him how much you’re grateful for these acts of love.
If your partner’s language is Physical Touch and is all about public displays of affection, you may stretch your Quality Time love language approach, try to be more mindful, and give a surprise hug or reach for a hand while walking down the street. They in turn may very well enjoy the next date you have on the couch, at home, spending quality time together.
Even knowing your own love language can be enough to shift your relationship. If you’re not sure which is your predominant style, you can take the 20-minute quiz on Dr. Chapman’s site and you will get a report highlighting your love language as well as newsletters with regular tips on showing love in the five different ways.
So, on this upcoming Valentine’s Day, use your newfound knowledge to recharge the spark. Express your love in a way that is likely to get the best possible reaction.
Not presently in a love match? What’s great about these languages is that they transfer to other relationships, too. Use these with your children – young and grown, your parents, or even your business associates, and watch how these relationships flourish.