I know mine. Do you know yours?
We all want to be love and be loved. But often we can’t express that love because we don’t know how.
Couples are living lives of desperation due to lack of communication, and it is one of the leading causes of divorce.
However, three decades ago, Dr. Gary Chapman penned a book that has changed the lives of millions of readers. The 5 Love Languages revolutionized how we thought about and communicated love between one another.
I, personally, read the book and have applied my understanding of the languages of love to myself and those around me. It’s difficult at times, but I live my language out loud. This helps my husband understand how to speak and respond to me in a way I can appreciate.
Learning another’s love language is like an English speaker becoming proficient in French so they can converse with ease. Well, maybe it’s not that difficult.
For instance, my love language is Acts of Service and my husband's is Physical Touch. He is content to sit by me and hold hands, but I want him to feed the grandkids while I write. Show me you love me by doing things for me.
But I am learning to speak his tongue, and he is getting up off his keester to master mine, thanks to Dr. Chapman!
In his wisdom, the Love Doctor categorizes the languages of love as Words of Affirmation, Acts of Service, Receiving Gifts, Quality Time, and Physical Touch.
Words of Affirmation
Words are power. They carry life and death. The spoken word has started wars while words of peace have ignited movements. The same applies within a relationship. We can fight with words that hurt or speak with words that love.
However, if you know your love language, you can communicate to your significant other your needs and wants. The same is true for that special person in your life. Even if they don’t know their language or care to know, your words can make or break a lifelong commitment.
Dr. Chapman wrote that words have dialects. Identifying the types of affirmation words can help your conversations (p. 45). It did me!
Encouraging words. One dialect of affirmations is encouraging words and phrases. When we learn what is meaningful to our spouse, we can inspire courage in them to act.
Kind words. Speaking kind words is another manner of affirmations. These words have more to do with how you say them using body language. Aggressive vs. meek.
Humble words. Humble words express a want or need as a request. They affirm with love that your spouse has worth, and you appreciate their help.
For example, if I demand my husband mow the lawn, he will get defensive. But if I ask, “Honey, I love how you trim between the walkway and my flowers without losing a petal. I see grass peeking around the edges. Would you mind trimming today?” Then he gets a tender hug of thanks.
It takes a little more effort, but it works. Everybody is happy — me, him, and the flowers.
Quality time is giving your spouse or partner your undivided attention (p.56). When you give your time, you are giving a piece of your life. I don’t mean reading a book in the same room or watching TV.
Quality time is focused attention in a common pursuit. Take a walk, slow-dance, or lie in bed and discuss their dreams.
It is a journey you undertake. Years later, you can look back and know you spent time creating a happy life together.
Giving gifts is a universal part of human nature. It is an act that symbolizes your emotions of love. From little children giving dandelions to their grandmother to couples exchanging rings at a wedding ceremony.
If the other person’s love language is receiving gifts, she will understand your expression of love by the visual and physical thing you give her. It doesn’t have to be expensive. Sometimes a note will suffice.
However, Dr. Chapman tells us the gift that speaks the loudest is “the gift of self or the gift of presence (p.81). Especially in a time of crisis, your body is the best symbol of love. Just being there.
Acts of Service
This is my cup of tea! Do for me and I’ll love you to the moon and back. After many heated discussions, my husband finally realized the best way to show his love for me is by doing stuff.
The love language I understand is expressed by helping me take care of things so I can manage my writing business. I am living my dream of becoming a writer, and his support enables me to fulfill it.
He knows that by making me happy; I am more apt to speak a few sentences of his language. (Uh, physical touch.) If you get my drift.
If your loved one’s language is physical, it ties their perception of love to the power of touch. It fills the emotional love-tank and can bring pleasure as implicit as a rub on the shoulder or as explicit as the art of lovemaking.
Our bodies are made for touching. Humans kiss, hug, hold hands, etc. Physical touch is equivalent to love for some and not for others.
A perfect example is my husband and me. He often stops by my desk to give me a light hug, ask what I’m writing, or massage my neck muscles. This is important to him.
I respond by touching his hand, or I get up and give him the biggest bear hug I can manage. He says it makes him feel “special and loved.” But I hug him because I know physical touch is his love language.
Love is the strongest force humans experience. If someone loves us, we have significance.
For instance, couples bond their lives together because they love each other. However, sometimes that connection is strained and difficult.
Thanks to Dr. Chapman’s exploration and insight into communication, we can strengthen, support, and learn how to speak the language of love.
Chapman, Gary. (1992). The 5 Love Languages. Chicago, IL: Northfield Publishing.