You desire to be loved. We all do. But have you ever thought that maybe your partner doesn’t like to express and receive love the same way you do? Our therapists at Evanston Counseling work with couples to strengthen their connection and heal misunderstandings. Loving your partner the way they most desire (speaking their love language) might be the beginning of transforming your relationship.
How can knowing the love languages help me?
In his New York Times bestselling book, “The 5 Love Languages,” Dr. Gary Chapman introduces the concept of love languages. He identifies five ways in which we feel the most valued and validated.
At 5lovelanguages.com, they describe how receiving and giving love to others according to their love language is a simple and effective way to strengthen your connections. Loving someone by their love language will help you both to experience greater joy and harmony.
Before we go any further, we want to emphasize that getting a grasp on the love languages will help you in all of your relationships. You might find it easier to relate to your kids, your colleagues, or your neighbors. Using Chapman’s theory could potentially help you to understand your partner, family, and friends better and nurture those relationships.
Interested in figuring out your love language? You can take the love language quiz here.
What are the five love languages?
Let’s take a look at the five love languages. Then we’ll look at how they can enhance your relationship with your partner.
Words of Affirmation
If your primary love language is words of affirmation, you want to hear authentic praise. You thrive on kind and uplifting words that can boost your confidence and give you reassurance.
When someone compliments you or expresses gratitude, you feel loved. Simple statements like, “I’m proud of you” or “You mean the world to me” can profoundly impact you if your love language is words of affirmation.
Acts of Service
Perhaps you express and receive love through kindness given to you. Actions truly speak louder than words for you if acts of service touch your heart. You feel most loved when others go out of their way to help you or ease your burdens.
Simple things like cooking a meal, doing household chores, or running errands can convey love and care to you. When your partner takes the time to understand and fulfill your practical needs (like fixing the kitchen sink or doing the laundry), they demonstrate devotion in a language that hits you deeply.
Nothing says “I love you!” like your partner showing up with flowers on a random Tuesday (especially if flowers are your thing!). You probably associate gift-giving with love and affection. If your love language is receiving gifts, the thoughtfulness, effort, and meaning behind a gift are significant to you.
The sentiment and value expressed to you through the gift speak volumes! The key here is not how much the gift costs but rather the emotional thought and effort put into picking it out for you. This small, heartfelt expression conveys love to you profoundly.
In today’s fast-paced world, quality time has become increasingly precious. If your love language is quality time, you crave your partner’s undivided attention, meaningful conversations, and shared experiences. You’re probably the one who remembers to schedule and plan date nights!
It’s not just about being physically present; being mentally and emotionally present is equally important. No phones, no interruptions; eye-to-eye contact and intentional focus.
Setting aside dedicated time, doing activities together, and actively listening without distractions can make you feel deeply loved and understood.
Physical touch is a powerful love language that extends from hugs and kisses to gentle caresses and physical intimacy. If your love language is physical touch, you gain a deep sense of security and warmth from love given to you in this way.
Physical touch is a non-verbal way of communicating love and support. It can be as simple as a warm embrace after a long day or a gentle touch on the arm to offer reassurance.
How to use the 5 Love Languages to Enhance Your Relationship
Now that you’re more familiar with the five love languages, let’s take a look at how knowing them might create stronger bonds in your relationships.
Loving others really starts with loving yourself!
This psychcentral.com article asks you to think of how you treat yourself and to ask yourself two questions: Are you good to yourself? Is your mind kind to your body and soul?
In this article, therapist Joyce Marter says that at one time or another we all:
- Beat ourselves up with cruel self-talk
- Set ourselves up for failure with unrealistic expectations
- Deprive ourselves of things we deserve through self-sabotaging behaviors
- Abuse our bodies through neglect or harmful choices
Marter encourages us to steer clear of this path and show ourselves more kindness. The greatest benefit of practicing self-love she believes, is that “when we love ourselves we know that we can give without becoming resentful, exhausted and depleted, and we can receive because we know we deserve it.”
Understanding how you most like to receive love (your own love language) can help you better communicate your needs to your partner.
Understanding Your Partner
According to Chapman, everyone has a primary love language and perhaps a secondary way they like to receive love. Speaking your partner’s love languages can convey your care.
Being mindful to love your partner in the way they desire can enhance your emotional connection, help to resolve conflict, and create an atmosphere of better trust and understanding.
A few words of caution about your love language…
Julie Nguyen in her article at mindbodygreen.com warns against using the love languages as a kind of personality test. Moreover, she reminds us that the theory is meant to get you to focus on how to love your partner better and not to think only of how you want to be loved.
Therapist Sunny Motamedi, Psy.D. says that leaning too heavily on loving your partner in only one way
“promotes and prevents partners from developing autonomy and authenticity,” Motamedi adds. “A relationship is a place for transformation and growth. When we limit each other with a specific love language, we do not allow room for change.”
Motamedi believes that couples can use the love languages concept more effectively after working toward internal healing and developing healthy attachment styles.
If you’d like to learn more about attachment styles, check out our blog on this subject.
Finally, as you begin to understand love languages, remember that it takes time. You will want to invest effort to learn and adapt to your partner’s love language.
But the rewards could be a deeper and more fulfilling connection with your partner.