The flowers have wilted and the candy is gone. Another Valentine’s Day is over. Would you like to give a gift that will say, “I love you “ all year long? We can do that by learning to speak our partner’s love language. Gary Chapman coined the term in his book: The Five Love Languages: The Secret to Love that Lasts. This is a wonderful resource for a deeper look at the topic.
In my work as a couples counselor, I often encounter people who feel they are working harder in the relationship than the other. The irony is that often the other person feels the same way. We often instinctively give what we would want to receive. This is what the Golden Rule tells us, right? In relationships I like the Platinum Rule: Give as the other wants to receive. A healthy relationship does require effort. To get the best return on your investment of time and effort, speaking the right love language is the way to go!
Below are the five love languages. Simply put, our love language is how we feel the most loved or cared for. Most of us have more than one. Which one sounds like you?
Words of Affirmation: Examples are verbal compliments to express love and admiration. Do this by writing love letters, brag to others about your partner, tell him or her what you love and appreciate, offer a sincere apology after an argument.
Acts of Service: Any act that eases the burden or responsibility of the other. Do a least favored task, fill their car up with gas, pick up their dry cleaning, let them sleep in, make dinner. This is also expressed by making behavioral changes your partner has requested.
Quality Time: Focused and undivided attention and time spent together. Do this by turning off electronics and not multitasking. Plan a date night or go for a walk. Make eye contact and don’t interrupt while he/she is talking.
Giving Gifts: These are tangible symbols of your thoughtfulness and effort. Do this by making birthdays and anniversaries special, surprise him/her with a favorite treat or token gift. It’s not the cost that matters. It really is the thought that counts.
Physical Touch: Non-sexual touch that reinforces your presence and affection. This is expressed by holding hands, hugging, cuddling, sitting close to one another, or offering a massage.
I encourage couples to read over this list and identify their love languages. We need to let the other know how to best love us and let go of any assumption that they should “just know.” When we speak our partner’s love language, we ensure that they feel loved in the way that is most important for them. In doing so, we work smarter, not harder to build lasting loving relationships.
Julie Fender, LPC, CEAP is a couples expert with Insight Into Action Therapy. She helps relationships get beyond the fight by understanding the emotions that get in the way of effective communication. You can read more about her at firstname.lastname@example.org.