Couples Loving Each Other
I just finished The 5 Love Languages by Dr. Gary Chapman, an extremely popular self-help book that has inspired couples since 1992. The idea of it is that the key to revitalization and repair of any relationship is to pay attention to how each person likes to be loved. The challenge is that we all like to be loved in different ways and that we need to learn our partner’s “love language.” Fortunately, Chapman explains that there are five basic love languages and that we can discover ours and our partners through a brief, and I think fun, online quiz.
By speaking our partner’s love language we make sure that we are giving them what they value most in a relationship. That way we can assure that each person stays satisfied and full of good will toward each other.
Here are the five love languages, as summarized by Chapman, and like foreign languages the differences between them can be quite striking. Often, we fall into the trap of following the golden rule and treating our partners the way that we would want to be treated, when in truth we need to treat them in ways that are meaningful to them. As you read these basic descriptions, you may recognize yourself or your partner. Very often our partner’s preferences are different from ours and we must accept the challenge to say and do things that are foreign to us so that we may grow together and develop a strong and satisfying relationship.
Language 1: 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 want 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. Finding ways to serve speaks volumes to the recipient of these acts.
Language 2: 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. Gifts are visual representations of love and are treasured greatly.
Language 3: 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. Physical touch fosters a sense of security and belonging in any relationship.
Language 4: 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. Quality Time also means sharing quality conversation and quality activities.
Language 5: 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. Kind, encouraging, and positive words are truly life-giving.
Please take what you learn here and share it with your spouse or partner. Practice giving to them in the ways that mean most to them. With time you’ll learn new skills and get better and better at loving each other. For more ideas and inspiration, please see The Five Love Languages: The Secret to Love that Lasts by Gary Chapman.