Have you ever been in a relationship that was fraught with conflicts and misunderstandings? “He/she doesn’t understand me! It’s like we’re speaking different languages,” you wailed to your friends. Well, you may have been right to think that language barriers were indeed hampering communication with your loved one.
According to author Dr. Gary Chapman, there are five distinct ways that we express and experience love. In his book The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love that Lasts, he classified them as: Gift Giving, Quality Time, Physical Touch, Acts of Service and Words of Affirmation. One of these will be your dominant love language that you “speak” most fluently in your relationships.
Identifying your dominant love language (and that of your partner) can bring a multitude of benefits in helping couples to understand and relate to one another. It will also deepen your insight into recognising when your partner is sending you love and affection, even if they are not “speaking” your love language.
Words of Affirmation
People with this love language need to hear their partner say “I love you” either directly or indirectly through verbal compliments or words of appreciation. If this is your partner’s preferred love language, don’t worry, you do not need to recite romantic poetry or use long and complicated words to get your message across.
According to Dr Chapman, the most effective way to express your love is through simple, straightforward statements of affirmation, such as: “You look sharp in that suit”, “Wow! You look incredible in that dress” or “You can always make me laugh”.
People who fall into this language category are more sensitive than others to body language and tone of voice, so remember to be careful not only with what you say but also how you say it.
This language is all about giving your partner your undivided attention. At home this means switching the TV off, putting away your smart phone and really focusing on what the other person is saying.
It could also mean going for a walk together or enjoying a meal at an intimate restaurant where there are no distractions. In our modern world of busyness, time is a precious commodity and making sure that you commit a good proportion of hours to your partner shows that you value them.
Gifts are visible symbols of love that allow the giver to demonstrate the importance of his or her relationship with the recipient. And it really is the thought that counts. People who speak this love language are not shallow types who want to be showered with diamonds, sports cars and expensive holidays. The amount of money spent on the gift is often irrelevant, claims Dr Chapman.
Rather than splashing your cash on extravagant but impersonal presents, think about what your partner would really appreciate. The gift is a symbol to show that you were thinking about them and their needs.
Acts of service
This language revolves around doing things for your partner that make their life easier. Actions such as emptying the dishwasher, cooking a delicious meal, vacuuming or filling up the car with petrol, are all acts of service.
Dr Chapman stresses that these things need to be done with a “positive spirit” in order to qualify as expressions of love. In other words, if you are huffing and puffing while dragging the vacuum cleaner around the house with a scowl on your face it does not count!
If this is your partner’s love language, actions really do speak louder than words. Putting time, effort and energy into serving your partner will meet his or her emotional needs and bring enormous benefits to the relationship as a whole.
Physical touch is one of the most primal ways that we express love not only to our partners but also to our children and other close family and friends. Research shows that physical connection can alleviate stress and boost the immune system by releasing feel-good hormones such as serotonin, dopamine and oxytocin.
If you speak this love language, you thrive on any type of physical touch such as hugs, holding hands, kissing and back rubs. Partners who are not naturally “touchy-feely” can make an effort to sit close to their loved one while watching TV and give them a hug when leaving the house to communicate their feelings.
Over to you
Falling in love is the easy part. For any relationship to flourish and last the distance, it is vital that we learn to communicate effectively with each other. Sign up to receive a quiz that will reveal your Love Language and open up a whole new world of connection and intimacy.