In his book, The Five Love Languages, Dr. Gary Chapman lists 5 main love languages. They are:
1) Words of Affirmation
2) Quality Time
4) Acts of Service
In my 30 year history of seeing couples in my practice, I can see how different partners feel loved by one of these 5 love languages and seldom do partners have the same language. How do you know what love language you speak and how you need to feel loved? Here are some questions that you can ask yourself that will clarify your love language:
1) How do I most often express love to my partner or other people?
2) What do I complain about most often?
3) What do you request of your partner most often?
For example, I notice that I tend to go up to my wife and touch her back, give her a hug or do some other affectionate gesture. It is automatic and my clear intent is to show love to her when I am doing that. Could you guess what my love language is? Yes, it is touch.
Now here is where the problem comes in; that is NOT my wife’s love language. How does she show love to me- by asking me to do things with her, spending time with her. That is her most frequent type of request. Also, she wants to have a clean house and the reason is to be able to have friends come over at moment’s notice. What is her love language then- Quality Time. So, if I give my wife a touch here and there and am affectionate on the way to watching the Lakers on TV when she is home and wanting to spend time with me, she will not feel loved. Likewise, if she and I spend quality time together but it seldom involves touching, I probably won’t feel loved. The important word here is “feel.” I could know intellectually that my wife loves me but in order to ‘feel” loved, she needs to touch me. That is just how it is. If I want my wife to feel loved, then I need to clear some part of my schedule to give her quality time on a consistent basis. That is just how it is also! If we each get “spoken to” in our love language our hearts feel full and all is well in our relationship.
Within the love language of Quality Time, there are a variety of dialects. Dialects in Quality Time include-
• Focused communication
• Physical Activity
• Quiet Time
• Social Time
Within the love language of Touch, there are many types of touch from a pat on the head to sexual intercourse and everything in between. Touch could be affectionate, reassuring, encouraging, sensual or sexual.
What about the other languages- Gifts are about physical symbols of your love. This is not a “selfish” love language; it is just as valid as the other four. A gift could require a sacrifice of some money or not. If your partner’s love language is ‘gifts’ then sacrificing some money to give her a gift could be done in the spirit of love and could be quite a worthwhile investment. Think of it as an investment in your love bank. Also, gifts can include other dialects besides gifts requiring purchases. There can be gifts of tie such as spending time writing a card or love poem or writing “I Love You,” on a piece of paper and putting it on her windshield. These are all physical signs of love that the partner with the love language if ‘gifts’ will cherish.
Words of affirmation are using the spoken word to uplift the energy of someone. Dialects include compliments, expressions of appreciation, words of encouragement and words of optimism. A person who has this love language will feel loved and significant if you use words to express the positive aspects of that person or what that person has done or accomplished.
Acts of Service could be anything you do that makes your partner feel significant. If your partner asks you to help her prepare for a party they are hosting and you come through in a timely manner that is a good thing. But if your partner happens to have ‘Acts of Service’ as her love language then she will feel so loved that she will be radiant at the party.
There you have it. You are an inter-personally powerful person. If you discover and speak your partner’s love language, you will have great positive influence on the well being of your partner and your relationship. That will for sure come back to you in the form of your own elevated well being.