When I first read about Gary Chapman’s The Five Love Languages, I flashed on a former boyfriend and thought, No wonder it didn’t work out. The romance was doomed for many reasons, but not speaking the same love language certainly made the short list.
Chapman devised the 5 Love Languages after 30 years as a marriage counselor. He believes everyone has a primary love language — a way they accept and show love. If your way of communicating love doesn’t match your partner’s way (language) of giving and accepting love, you are bound to disappoint each other.
5 Ways to Demonstrate Love
1. Words of Affirmation
2. Spending Quality time
3. Receiving Gifts
4. Physical Touch
5. Acts of Service
All her life B.J had been told she was unattractive. The cruel words that had been inflicted upon her as a child remained branded on her soul decades later. After getting her hair done or buying a new outfit, she’d ask her husband, “How do I look?” His response was always, “Fine” or “Okay” or the dreaded, “If you like it…” His words left her feeling unloved. A year after her husband’s death, B.J. said through her teeth, “Would it have killed him to say, just once, ‘I love you. You look beautiful?’” She now lives with a man who tells her every day how beautiful she looks, and she’s never been happier.
B.J. needed kind, encouraging words. It takes just a few seconds to give an honest compliment or express encouragement.
“Can we please go away together, just the two of us?”
“Can we have dinner together with the cell phones off?”
“Can you look at me instead of the television?”
All of the above are typical statements from people who express and perceive love by spending quality time with their partner. If you are in a relationship with such a person, set aside time to give them your undivided attention.
Set aside some time to give your partner your undivided attention. Plan a date night or occasional romantic getaway.
This one is a toughie if, like me, you aren’t very good at choosing gifts. Luckily, people whose primary love language is receiving gifts, don’t necessarily require expensive or perfect gifts. Thoughtful cards and homemade gifts also signal, “I love you.”
Make a weekly or monthly event of giving your partner a thoughtful gift — flowers or a card. Keep an idea book. Buy within your comfort zone.
For some, love is expressed through open acts of affection, handholding, hugs, sex, or your partner’s arm around your waist.
Acts of Service
If someone offered to be your love slave and your first thought was, Great! Repaint my kitchen and fix the leaky faucet in the bathroom, then chances are your primary love language is Acts of Service. You would much prefer your partner demonstrate his/her love by doing something thoughtful. Actions are more meaningful to you than words.
Replace, I don’t know what he/she wants, with actively listening to what your partner complains about most often. Love leaves the equation if your acts of service are in response to demands, or if you resent doing them. As seen in the example below, if you aren’t performing the act freely out of love, then you aren’t speaking this particular love language.
Caring Enough to Make the Effort
Even when a couple shares the same primary love language, things may not go smoothly if they don’t make the effort. Remember the ex-boyfriend I mentioned? In his family, people showed their love through the creation of elaborate, time-consuming meals. I came from a home where both parents worked the night shift, and dinner was whatever my siblings and I could quickly and easily throw together.
When a relationship doesn’t work out — and there are usually multiple reasons — look for the lesson learned. It may have been that you didn’t speak the same love language or care enough to adapt.