Do you want to know how to love your partner better? Your children? Your friends? Yourself? Keep reading and by the end of this blog post, you can know! You don’t have to buy the book or even read it (although, it’s a great resource and an easy read!) Today’s post is short and sweet. I could write for ages on this topic, but today I just want to get the main gist to you and help you out in a quick 5-10 minutes!
In his 30+ years as a marriage counselor, Gary Chapman found that there are five basic love languages – five ways to express love emotionally. He recounts how the couples he was working with would say, “I feel like he/she doesn’t love me.” And the other would say, “I don’t know what else to do. I try to show her that I love her.” And on and on it would go. Each person trying so hard to love their partner, but it just wasn’t enough. Chapman found that each person has a primary love language that we must learn to speak if we want that person to feel loved.
The five primary ways we all give and receive love are: words of affirmation, gifts, acts of service, physical touch and quality time. Now for a super quick description of each:
Words of Affirmation: If this is your love language, unsolicited compliments mean the world to you. Hearing the words, “I love you,” are important— but hearing the reasons behind that love means even more. Insults can leave you shattered and are not easily forgotten (1).
Gifts: Don’t mistake this love language for materialism; the receiver of gifts thrives on the love, thoughtfulness, and effort behind the gift. If this is your language, the perfect gift or gesture shows that you are known, cared for, and prized above whatever was sacrificed to bring the gift to you. A missed birthday, anniversary, or a hasty, thoughtless gift would be disastrous to this person (1).
Acts of Service: Anything you do to ease the burden of responsibilities weighing on an this type of person will speak volumes. The words he or she most wants to hear are, “Let me do that for you.” Laziness, broken commitments, and making more work for them tell speakers of this language their feelings don’t matter (1).
Physical Touch: This language isn’t all about the bedroom. A person who has this as their primary language is likely very touchy. Hugs, pats on the back, holding hands, and thoughtful touches on the arm, shoulder, or face are all ways to show excitement, concern, care, and love. Physical presence and accessibility are crucial, while neglect or abuse can be unforgivable and destructive (1).
Quality Time: for this love language, nothing says, “I love you,” like full, undivided attention. Being there for this type of person is critical, but really being there—with the TV off, phone down, and all chores and tasks on standby—makes this person feel truly special and loved. Distractions, postponed dates, or the failure to listen can be especially hurtful (1).
I’m telling you guys, this stuff is gold. It has helped my marriage, my friendships and my relationships with my sisters and parents. And I’ve seen it help others. And it’s great to use with your children, too. If you’re a parent, have you ever been accused of playing favorites? It may be that you and one of your children share the same love language–and so loving that child (in the way he/she feels loved) comes more naturally to you. It really is an eye opener once you discover your love language and the languages of those you love most. It’s a game changer.
Now to find out your love language! (and have your spouse, partner, child, friend, parent–whoever you want to learn to love better–take the quiz, too and the share your results with each other!)
Click here to take the Love Language Quiz! There is one for you (whether you are in a relationship or single) and also one for children (separated by age: 5-8, 9-12, and teen). I took the quiz just now and it took me less than 4 minutes start to finish! So it’s not one of those crazy long quizzes where you have to keep clicking for what seems like an eternity. Plus, in addition to rating your love languages (showing you your top two and subsequent three) it also provides a detailed description of each love language!