And Why Knowing Yours and Your Partner’s Will UpLevel Your Relationship
Author Gary Chapman revolutionized the relationship space when he released “The Five Love Languages: The Secret to Love that Lasts” in 1992. The book introduced the idea that every person has a unique language of love that determines how we express and receive love. Learn this unique language for yourself and learn to communicate your needs to your partner. Learn your partner’s love language and watch as acceptance of their unique approach transforms the relationship.
Since then, the phenomenon of Love Languages has inspired secondary books, Love Language coaches, quizzes on how to identify yours and more. To get the full value of Chapman’s contribution to conscious relationships, diving into the book itself will be of most service to your relationship (here’s a link to purchase).
Here I’ll provide an overview of the Love Languages, as they are an element of the Relationship Check-In method I’ve created for Happy Partners Project and we include this in our “Check-In Chronicles” workbook that tracks progress and outcomes from weekly Relationship Check-Ins.
What are the 5 Love Languages?
These unique styles of expressing (showing) and receiving love in relationship include:
- Words of Affirmation
- Acts of Service
- Quality Time
These behaviors are so ingrained in our subconscious that it may be easy to identify which your partner speaks. You may notice them naturally doing the actions and behaviors explained here even if they, themselves, aren’t conscious of the “reasoning” behind why. Remember, we tend to give the love we, ourselves, would like to receive, so the gift giver tends to like receiving gifts. However, in some cases, someone's expression of love can differ from their ideal way to receive love. This would mean that someone may show love by giving Words of Affirmation but likes to receive love as Touch.
Let’s look at them one-by-one.
Words of Affirmation: As it sounds, this love language is all about speaking and hearing positive words and phrases. This could be as simple as “I love you” or more elaborate such as “Your contribution to my life means so much to me.” Those whose love language is Words of Affirmation enjoy hearing reinforcement and verbal acknowledgement for their efforts and contribution.
To speak your partner’s Words of Affirmation love language, you can:
- Tell them more often what you appreciate and what’s going right in your relationship.
- Praise them publicly to friends, family, or on social media.
- Write them love notes telling them how much you appreciate them, their efforts, their presence in your life etc.
Acts of Service: Those with Acts of Service as their love language likely go out of their way to “do” things for you that make your life easier or ease your pain and bring you joy. Likewise, they will appreciate any efforts to make their life easier, ease their pain and bring them joy. As the partner to a person with Acts of Service as their love language, it requires a level of attunement to their needs and when they are voicing complaints about what’s on their plate.
To speak your partner’s Acts of Service love language, you can:
- Listen to their complaints about areas that are difficult for them and then DO one action that helps them get it done. Example: While she’s driving she complains that she’s out of wiper fluid, so you go fill her wiper fluid tank.
- Observe areas of challenge and without being asked, take action to provide for them. Example: Kelly’s boyfriend broke his foot and had a hard time walking. She went and grocery shopped for him so he’d have easier access to food while he was recovering.
- Other examples: Give your partner a massage when they are tense or draw them a bath. Book that appointment to a spa or a self-care venue for your partner.
Quality Time: Those with this love language like the “being together” and often it doesn’t require “doing” any particular activity. If you or your partner’s love language is Quality Time, spending time together is of most importance. If you identify with this love language or are in relationship with a Quality Time lover, it will be very important to get clear on what quality time represents — specifically. For some, being at the house at the same time, in silence qualifies as quality time; for others, they prefer shared time in an activity, even if that activity is watching a show together in silence. Either way, do yourselves a favor and get clear on what fills the Quality Time bucket and what doesn’t.
To speak your partner’s Quality Time love language, you can:
- Schedule regular dates that you’ve identified fill the Quality Time bucket
- Plan shared activities once a week
- Express your pleasure and intention to spend Quality Time with your partner and brainstorm ideas on when the next QT date will be.
Gifts / Gift-giving: Gift-givers do exactly that — they show their love by giving gifts and usually like receiving gifts as well. If this is not your love language it is very important to ensure you’re not “rejecting” your partners affections when they give you gifts. Recognize that this is simply their expression of love represented in a physical good.
To speak your partner’s Gift-giving/receiving love language, you can:
- Perfect the art of receiving gifts from your partner in an authentic way
- Get creative with gifts that you might give to your partner that can be useful and show you care
Touch: Feeling connection through physical touch is #1 to those who have this love language. That could be as simple as hand-holding, or a hug or more elaborate such as a massage or even a short back rub in passing. Human contact, even slight, can go miles with these folks.
To speak your partner’s Touch love language, you can:
- Greet them with physical touch each time you arrive home or depart — a quick kiss, a longer-than-usual hug with a back rub etc.
- Cuddle while watching a movie or a series instead of sitting separately.
- Come behind your partner while they are engaged in a regular at-home activity, such as cooking, and put your hands on their shoulders, kiss their cheek from behind, give them an embrace from behind for a few seconds, etc.
So which are you!? Which is your partner? These descriptions scratch the surface of ways you can engage your partner based on their and your love languages. To go deeper, grab the book “The Five Love Languages: The Secret to Love that Lasts” by Gary Chapman.