How to Have a Better Relationship: the Five Love Languages for Couples
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Some couples are unaware that their partner may express and feel love utterly different than they do. The more we try to love our partner, the way we express love, the less we receive. Not understanding your partner's love language could result in negative feelings towards each other and a disconnect. And it could only be because you're both speaking the wrong languages to each other.
I believe in the love languages and feel that understanding the concept can save relationships. The basic definition of love languages is that individuals have a specific way of expressing and feeling love. And that we can have healthier relationships when we understand the other person's love language and can communicate in their language.
Dr. Gary Chapman developed the 5 Love Languages, a marriage counselor and well-known author, in his 1992 called The Five Love Languages. From my own personal experience (I share my story below), it's when we understand and speak (through our behavior) the other person's love language that we can have excellent communication and stronger love relationships.
How do you know your partner's love language, and what are ways to speak it so that you can maintain a strong, stable relationship?
Knowing your partner's way of feeling love can make your relationship stronger.
I spent 17 years with my ex-husband not having understood his love language, not understanding mine, and most certainly not expressing love the way he experienced love. And vice versa.
I look back and wonder how different may it have been had we both understood each other's language. While we may still have found that uncoupling was the best for the family, we may have had a smoother ending to our relationship (we now co-parent together).
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In the USA the divorce rate is currently approximately 45% and in California, where I live, it's 60%. With this much chance of divorce (or unhappy marriages that stay married), we really should place more focus on building stronger relationships.
By having "been there, done that" and reached a stage in my growth that is experiencing a long-term healthy, strong relationship, I'll share with you how to find your love language and give easy ways to express love using your partner's language.
To start with, let's define The Five Love Languages
It's very common for people to have a primary love language and a second love language.
Gift giving is expressing love by giving gifts. The act of thinking about the gift, choosing it, presenting it, and giving it all elicit feelings of love for this person.
Quality time is spending time focusing on each other. That one-on-one, focused time with the partner is how they show their love. When someone has speaks love in quality time, they want to look in your eyes, sit with you, have a meaningful discussion.
It's not about going to a party together, but instead going to the local coffee shop and spending calming time reading a book together. They seek quality (not necessarily quantity) time with you that is meaningful.
Words of Affirmations
For this person, the affirming words you say to them is how they feel your love. He may be having a bad day, but when you say to him, "You are so committed to your work. I'm impressed by how much thought process you put into decision making", you will instantly lighten his day.
For this person, it's not about the things you do for her. It's a lot more about the words you use to affirm her. Speak to her heart, and she feels loved.
Touch is one of the first ways that infants experience love. Touch is a powerful love expression and produces bonding hormones in individuals.
For the person that speaks love in physical touch, you'll find that they find as many ways to touch you during the day. These touches are not sexual as much as they are touches of love expressions.
Acts of Service
Do things for this person and they will feel your love. Your words are nice, that gift is lovely, but if you do the morning dishes, he will feel much more loved when he's the one that usually does them.
The acts of service language is about doing things for the person you love.
Do the Five Love Languages Work?
Though there is no research on Chapman's theory, The Five Love Languages is extensively accepted by therapists and psychologists to increase couples' connection.
Stefani Goerlich, a Detroit-based psychotherapist, has found that "whatever the issues are that my client-couples bring to the table, they are rooted in a fundamental misalignment in how each partner gives and receives love."
However for the Five Love Languages to work, the couples have to be able to self-regulate their behaviors.
Zoe J. Hazelwood, of the Queensland University of Technology, wrote, "Chapman's model may be dependent on both spouses exhibiting appropriate self-regulatory behaviors."
Interestingly, she also wrote that "female self-regulation plays an important role in predicting relationship satisfaction for both partners when they have different preferred love languages."
What happens if you and your partner don't speak the same language?
Even couples that don't speak the same love language can be compatible and have healthy relationships. Couples are compatible when they are willing to learn each other's language.
In other words, learn each other's language and change your behavior to show love in your partner's language. And your partner to do the same for you.
It's more important to understand that it's about how the person feels love, not how they express love.
How to find which love language you and your partner is?
I recommend that you each take the love language quiz privately and when you're comfortable doing so. Then share each other's love language.
And then come back to finish reading and learn more!
After learning your love language, ask your partner, how can I best show you love?
Actively listen, take notes, and make the committed effort to do the things that make your partner feel loved.
Ways to Show Love with Gift of Giving
- Buy her favorite ice cream
- Pick them some wildflowers
- Get him the book he's been wanting
- Buy her an upgrade to her mobile phone
- Take him to a nice dinner
- Buy the beauty products she'll love
- Order him a fun coffee cup
It's not about the gift itself as much as it is about the act of giving a gift. Receiving a gift to this person feels like being loved.
Ways to Show Love with Words of Affirmations
- "You look so beautiful in that dress."
- "Look at how your hair shines."
- "I love how you were able to process those thoughts."
- "You're so strong. You're the best mama."
- "You deserve that promotion, you've worked so hard."
- "I heard you sing. You have so much talent!"
- "I appreciate so much how much you do for our family."
My primary love language is words of affirmations, and I can tell you that those of us in this language need words of affirmations regularly. Your assumptions about our goodness are not enough. We need to hear you affirm us.
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Ways to Show Love with Physical Touch
- Grabbing his hand when walking into a store
- Giving a neck massage
- Giving a non-sexual loving hug, just because
- Placing your hand on his thighs when he's sitting next to you
- Giving a hug from the back
- When attending an event, finding her again and putting your arms around her
- Kissing him on his cheek
Reminder: this love language feels love both from non-sexual and sexual loving touch.
Ways to Show Love with Acts of Service
- Make the bed for her
- Unload the dishes
- Offer to help her finish up her work
- Get him a cold glass of ice water on a hot day
- Call him on your way home to ask if he needs anything
- Offers to take the baby for an outing while she gets some rest
- Takes out the garbage every night because she knows you don't like doing it.
Ways to Show Love With Quality Time
- Go on a picnic and sit, eat and talk together
- Have a coffee date where you discuss the things you both want to do together
- Make a gourmet dinner together
- Read a book and discuss the main points
- Sit outside on your porch and talk about each other's day
- Watch your favorite movies
- Work on the garden together
Those with the language of quality time will want to have focus time together that is meaningful. So, put your phone down and be mindful of each other. It's about the quality of the time you spend together.
Showing love in how your partner feels love is everything.
Being in a relationship that grows, nurtures, and makes you feel loved is possible when you understand how you feel love and your partner feels love.
Once you understand how your partner feels loved, you're able to express love in a way that connects deeply to your partner. The Five Love Languages may be the key to solving many relationship challenges.