I often encounter couples who feel misunderstood and unappreciated when they make attempts to care for their partner. What starts as an earnest attempt to care sometimes ends up in frustration and argument. For many, just knowing their partner’s “Love Language” can deter these disappointing mishaps. In his book “The 5 Love Languages”, Dr. Gary Chapman delineates different “love languages” and stresses the importance of knowing your own language and the love language of your partner. With this understanding you can then “speak your partner’s language” and have them speak yours. It’s a good way to protect against misunderstanding and build greater appreciation.
The 5 Love Languages
- Words of Affirmation – This language involves compliments and saying with words you care and love the other person. If you give them verbal reason and explanation behind those compliments, that is even better! Keep in mind that the person who speaks this language is very effected and wounded by criticism and insults.
- Quality Time – This love language is summarized as getting someone’s undivided attention. Distractions are not welcome and really listening to your partner if they need quality time and hearing them will go a long way. Put away the smart phone, computer, and turn off the TV! For them to feel loved, they simply want YOU and your focused attention.
- Receiving Gifts – For the person who speaks this language, it’s not so much the gift that matters as the meaning and effort behind the gift leading them to feel loved. The person who wants this language spoken feels valued, recognized, loved and cared for when their partner makes efforts to give gifts on a regular basis. They don’t have to be expensive and the money is inconsequential! Missing important dates like anniversaries and birthdays are big no-no’s for the partner of the person wanting this language spoken.
- Acts of Service – Helping your partner out with day to day things like housework, errands, tidying up, or making dinner can go a long, long way. For the person speaking this language, helping out with the day to day responsibilities can really lead them to feel loved. It’s very important that commitments be followed through with or else your partner will feel they don’t count and aren’t very cared for.
- Physical Touch – For the person speaking this language, holding hands, snuggling on the couch, and giving hugs are all expressions that elicit feeling loved. It doesn’t necessarily mean sexual touch, although that may be a component. But, usually, it’s affection they seek which brings about feeling loved. Withholding physical affection from the person wanting this can bring about unwanted consequences, so be careful.
Are you speaking your partner’s language?
As a therapist in San Diego, I have seen the value time and time again of couples learning each others love language and putting it into use. I encourage you and your partner to read the book “The 5 Love Languages” by Dr. Gary Chapman and discuss it. Discover your own love language(s) and know your partner’s love language(s). By knowing this and making efforts to speak your partner’s languages, you can avoid potential arguments and misunderstandings while increasing the intimacy and connection between the two of you. Make this something fun where you can learn about one another, meet the needs of your partner and increase your own relationship satisfaction.
Sylvia Flanagan, MFT is a San Diego therapist with a private practice in Mission Valley. For more information, feel free to call or email her.
Office hours are Monday through Thursday 9:00 to 6:00.