A relationship is like a radio transmission. When one transmits on a different frequency than the other, complications occur. It is important to communicate on the same frequency. After years of working with couples who did not seem to understand each other, Dr. Gary Chapman identified five different “love languages.” Love languages are like separate frequencies. They are the way in which people express and experience love. There could be no better Valentine’s gift than better understanding each other.
Someone can say “I care about you,” with beautiful flowers, by cooking a delicious meal or giving a passionate kiss. According to Dr. Gary Chapman, everyone has a love language, whether dating or in a non-romantic relationship. It is easier to learn to communicate on a deeper level when you learn which love language your significant other speaks. One can be fluent in one love language and occasionally two. It is crucial to be aware of each other’s love languages to keep the frequency clear.
The Five Languages of Love
1. Words of Affirmation
With this love language, one feels most loved when hearing compliments or if the partner expresses his/her appreciation in words. Someone who speaks the language of Words of Affirmation prefers to hear “I love you,” or “You look beautiful.” Insults or troubles, on the other hand, will have a stronger negative effect.
Learn the language of Words of Affirmation:
- Positive characteristics
When this is not your first language, it takes more effort to express it. It might be helpful to think about the positive characteristics and habits of your partner. Write them down.
- Complete the list
Pay attention to your partner’s positive habits in the coming period and regularly add to the list. Expand your list with at least two positive habits per week.
- Focus on the positive
Even though this might be hard at times, try to prevent complaining about your partner. Try to focus on the positive habits and characteristics for two months.
- Give compliments
Choose a positive habit from your list that will complement your partner. A good goal would be to give a compliment at least twice a week.
- Take time
Take the time and energy to improve the relationship. Even though your partner might not acknowledge or notice the effort, eventually, it will have a positive effect!
2. Acts of Service
Cleaning the house, cooking a delicious meal or doing laundry are all expressions of love when you or your partner experiences love via Acts of Service. This concept simply means taking the burden from the other person’s shoulders. To them, this is the ultimate display of love. Loudness and arguments are not considered so annoying if Acts of Love is someone’s love language.
Learn the language of Acts of Service:
- Make a to do list
If Acts of Service is not your first language, write down (without asking your partner) four things that you think your partner would like to have done for them.
- Discuss the list
Ask your partner what they expect or would like you to do. Ask your partner if the things you do help them experience your love. Expand the list based on what your partner wants. Also, discuss together what is realistic and what is not.
Follow the activities on the list and do them intentionally as an act of love.
- Be patient
Try to put negative feelings aside for the next two months to see the results. Doing these things for your partner is truly an investment in the relationship.
3. Receiving Gifts
This love language is basically enjoying the fact that someone has been thoughtful, even when they were not around. The effort to make someone happy with a gift can mean the world. Size and value do not matter for it is the thought that counts. However, be aware that for those who have this language of love, forgetting important dates or giving impersonal gifts can have a negative impact.
Learn the language of Receiving Gifts:
- Past presents
If this language does not come naturally to you, it can be helpful to think about gifts your partner has received in the past and write them down. Think about the response they had to these gifts as well. If they talked about them in a positive way, it was a good present.
- Ask others
To gain insight into your partner’s favorite gifts, ask family and friends what they have given your partner and if they can recall your partner’s reactions.
- Future presents
Based on your list, new ideas will pop up that you can use to surprise your partner. Add to your list for potential future presents.
- Be creative
Giving presents every week can be costly, but there are lots of inexpensive yet clever ideas. Be creative and look for inspiration online or in magazines. Also, remember that something that you would find a waste of money (e.g. flowers that are tossed out after a week) can be perceived differently by your significant other.
- Make it a special moment
For two months, give or send a gift once a week. Refer to your list. Ensure that gifts are received at unexpected moments. Extra tip: Add a personal touch, like a note.
4. Quality Time
Spending time together is essential when this is one’s love language. Giving full attention to one another without distractions is a rule to live by. Postponing togetherness, not really listening or playing with the phone during a date can be perceived as offensive and convey apathy.
Learn the language of Quality Time:
- To do list
Make a list of things that you would like to do together. Challenge yourself to think about things that you like to do together and write them down. Ask regularly. When your partner mentions things to do, write them down. The more activities on the list, the better. Over the next two months, do one thing a week together.
- Make a long-term to do list
Ask your partner for long-term ideas. Write them down and make a long-term list. For example, write down travel destinations and activities abroad. Schedule some of these activities together to provide something that you can both look forward to doing together.
- Plan date nights
Plan a date night, at best, every week or two. This can be an activity from the to do list, but it can also be a spontaneous activity. As long as there will be structure and balance to spend quality time together, it will be appreciated.
- Give full attention and set priorities
Choose consciously to give your partner your full attention. When at home, turn off the TV, put your phone away and in silent mode. To improve the relationship, it is important to set priorities. Spending quality time and giving attention will fill the love tank once again.
5. Physical Touch
This love language is not just about sex. Small, physical gestures such as a random hug, walking hand-in-hand and sitting close to each other are significant. For some, physical distance can feel like rejection. Physical contact and accessibility are very important when expressing love in a physical way.
Learn the language of Physical Touch:
- Make a list
When touching does not come naturally, it can be helpful to make a list of what physical touch makes your partner happy. Think about past situations, moments, locations, and write them down.
- Talk about it together
This can be difficult, but your significant other knows what they like best. When this is too difficult, it might be easier to touch to observe your partner’s reaction. Lovingly touching your partner can be an expression of love. Do it with full attention and patience.
When you touch each other more often, it will likely occur more often. At the end of the day, review to assess if there have been loving touches that day. If necessary, set an alarm on your agenda to remind yourself. Try this for the next two months.
- Stay positive
In the past, it might not have been clear that Physical Touch has been your partner’s language of love. Even your spouse might not realize this is their love language. Talk about it and take the time to get used to it together.
Which love language(s) do you and your partner speak? Find out with the online Love Language Test at 5lovelanguages.com/.