The 5 Love Languages (And How They Can Save Your Relationship)

There was a highly influential book in the 1990s called “The Five Love Languages”. In the book, author Gary Chapman explains the theory that every person has a primary love language and a secondary one. In order to enjoy more peaceful and rewarding relationships, both partners need to learn the one’s primary language, since this is the way they express love.

While this is a theory as opposed to a science, few would argue that the logic makes sense. People communicate differently and miscommunication causes stress in the relationship.

This is how the theory goes: people prefer to GIVE love the way they receive love. So when you have two mismatched partners, you have two partners that speak two “different languages” when they communicate love. However, learning these languages can help improve communication and strengthen a relationship, even if the two partners initially don’t understand the way each other loves.

The five love languages are:

1. Receiving Gifts: Material gifts or sentimental, the desire to buy or create something to show personal affection

2. Quality Time: Arranging or desiring to spend time with one’s partner. Talking frequently and at length, as well as spending times doing activities as a couple and or family

3. Words of Affirmation: This includes “I love you” assurances, as well as more creative visual or verbal expressions that convey love and care for a partner.

4. Acts of Service: Instead of gifts, acts of service may be given to a partner, which are specific favors that help the partner with financial matters, personal matters or other life issues.

5. Physical Touching: This refers to the act of touching, as well as other variations, including lovemaking, kissing and romantic gestures.

If one partner prefers physical touching, but the other partner appreciates more quality time, they have two different languages and perceptions of love. They want something different than their partner is giving them and in return, they communicate their needs in a way that’s not understood. By learning this variety of signals and prompts, couples can express love in a way that their partner actually wants.

For example, if a wife’s primary language is “acts of service” she may consider doing the laundry or caring for a child as a service that says “I love you.” However, if the husband doesn’t register the “acts of service” as a statement of love, he may feel unloved. His preferred language of love is physical touching or words of affirmation. He misses the love assurance his wife has given him, assuming she’s doing what her obligation, when in fact she considers it an act of love.

It’s not just the misunderstanding either. Both partners may disagree about the “value” of each expression of love. They may assign different values to different love gestures, thus not feeling they are getting an even “trade” of love. As in, “I do so much for you…but you only give me the bare minimum.”

Tips on Learning Better Communication

When it comes to not giving equal value to these love gestures (for instance if one partner doesn’t like cuddling as much as the other), then it’s important to be self-sacrificing and compromise whenever possible. Dismissing the other partner’s needs for intimacy as “needy” is not show respect or appreciation for their unique love language.

Buying him a gift, when you know that he values touching or quality time with you more, would be dismissive of his needs. You may be giving him the kind of love you want because that’s what you want to receive. But that’s not the reassurance that he expects. Thus his needs are not actually being met, even if your intentions are sincere.

The process involves:

1. Learning the different love languages
2. Listening to your partner’s needs
3. Communicating what you want and how you in return show appreciation for that love
4. Finding common ground with each other and areas for agreement.
4. Make time for each other, make time to make each other happy.
5. Find new ways to show love gestures in the same love language—surprise them by breaking from the routine

If your partner wants a special kind of reassurance (as in, they want something romantic, like an anniversary ring) and you know they specifically like gifts, then you want to go out of your way to show love in just the language they want it. You could save up money to give them that special ring and make this day very special. Maybe you can’t afford to do this all the time, but if you learn to compromise you can do it on occasion and keep your partner very happy. Compromise involves giving your partner what he wants when you can afford to do it. Just meeting them halfway shows that you really do understand what they want and that you’re doing your best to make them feel loved.

Go the extra mile in making them comfortable, especially if you know or can sense they’ve had a bad day. Sometimes having empathy for your partner is the best way to actually communicate better with them.

Lastly, remember to change things up as often as possible so you can keep surprising your partner. Experiment with your “language” and surprise them with new ways of saying “I love you”, such as surprising them with gifts, or affection, or quality time together.

Remember, caring for your partner’s emotional needs is very important to creating a lasting relationship. If two people speak different languages of love and make no attempt to meet halfway for a compromise, they will eventually stop trying to communicate and may even grow to resent each other.

Success in love and marriage really is about trying and putting forth the effort to see your partner’s point of view—not just your own. By learning more about the way people love, expect love, and communicate their needs, you can avoid making the same mistakes other people make. You can learn to speak each other’s “language” and more accurately share the warm feelings you still have with each other.

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About The Author

Matthew Coast

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