“Whatever I do, nothing seems to work. I feel she doesn’t get how much I love her.” – Martin thinks, while he is finishing eating dinner. On the other side of the table, there is Olivia, his wife, who is thinking, for the third consecutive day that week: “I wish he was more romantic…”
Martin and Olivia’s dynamic is more common than we would think, and it is not about a lack of love, nor commitment, but about a lack of understanding. He was trying to spend as much quality time as possible together, but she was missing hearing things such as “You are beautiful” or “I love you”. She simply had a love language he did not understand… yet.
Have you ever felt that your partner simply does not understand you? There is a moment in any relationship when we realize that love is not enough. You might love your partner so much yet feel lost in how to make them feel loved. You feel you have tried your best and it still does not seem enough for them. Or maybe you are the one who feels that their partner does not love them enough, at least not the way that you need them to.
Gary Chapman, a well-known marriage counsellor, has found that there are 5 unique styles of communicating love: words of affirmation, quality time, acts of service, physical touch and receiving gifts. These styles are widely known as the 5 languages of love and they give us a framework to understand the way someone expresses and receives love.
If you and your partner have similar love languages, you might fulfil each other’s needs without much effort. On the other side, if you have different love needs, unconsciously you might try to love your partner the way you would like to be loved, which in time can lead to resentment and conflict.
Firstly, you have to understand what these 5 love languages are and how they apply to us:
- Words of affirmation – Those with this love language value compliments, encouragement and verbal expression of love. They also like to receive texts, compliments and frequent “I love you”. These verbal expressions of love mean a lot for them.
- Quality time – They feel the most loved when they spend quality time with their loved ones. They crave for meaningful conversations or recreational activities where the primary focus is having the full presence of the other. When you spend time together, no matter what it is, they like to receive undivided attention, without any distraction of phones, TV, or other tasks.
- Acts of service – Those with this love language feel happier when their partner helps them make their life easier. This can mean making coffee in the morning, cleaning the house when they are too busy or simply helping with any task that will ease their burden of responsibilities. They don’t care about hearing how much they are loved, as much as they like to be shown through actions that they are appreciated.
- Gifts – These people feel loved when they receive “visual symbols of love”, as Chapman calls them. People with this style value not only the gift but the whole gift-giving process, the way you picked a specific gift to represent the relationship, the intention and the effort behind it. Giving and receiving gifts for them is something deeply meaningful.
- Physical touch – This love language, it is not only about sex. Those that communicate through physical touch, feel loved when they receive physical affection through different ways: kissing, holding hands, cuddling or skin-to-skin touching. All of these can be powerful and affirming for someone who has physical touch as their first love language, as it makes them feel cared fo
- Now that you have a bit of understanding of the 5 love language, you can do the test here, alone or with your partner, to discover yours and learn more about how it applies to your relationship dynamic.
The 5 languages of love can change your perspective about your relationship in different ways.
- You will understand your love language and what are your needs from the relationship. How do you like to feel loved? How does your spouse show love to you? Understand your partner’s love language. What makes them feel loved? How can you learn to make them feel loved the way they need to be loved?
- You will know what are the things that make your partner feel unloved. Some of your actions might have the exact opposite effect on them and knowing their love language can help you minimize this.
- You will appreciate more your partner’s attempts to make you feel loved. By working together to give each other the love you need, you will be more likely to see their attempts, even if failed, from a more positive perspective.
Once you know your love languages, have an open conversation with your partner and set together small commitments in your weekly routine. Once a week ask yourselves: What is something that I can do this week that will make my partner feel more loved?
Here is an example of one small action that you can do accordingly to each love language.
Words of affirmation – Send them an unexpected note stating how much you love them or appreciate them.
Physical touch – Kiss and hug them before separating or when reuniting.
Receiving gifts – Give them a thoughtful gift that represents your relationship.
Quality time – Recreate your first date.
Acts of Service – Make them breakfast in bed.
In conclusion, the 5 languages of love can be a powerful tool that can help you deepen your relationship and make you understand how easy is sometimes to misinterpret your partners’ actions. They will make you not only understand your partner on a deeper level, but also appreciate them more. Next time when your partner will attempt a bid of connection, you will be able to see the intention behind the action. Besides this, the biggest benefit of the 5 languages of love, is that it allows you to know what is important for you. By knowing what your needs are you can now learn how to give yourself the love that you crave to receive from others.
We hope that this article has been insightful for you and that will help you bring more understanding within your relationship.