What are love languages?
Have you ever gone to great lengths to display your affection and it falls flat? Ever tried to pay someone a compliment or do something kind and they either barely noticed or seemed unappreciative?
Everyone expresses and understands love differently. How we express it to others and how we accept it, differs from person to person.
This is called your love language and I can’t tell you how many clients have told me they wished they knew about this for their “first marriage”.
Whilst you’d think displays of affection would be universal, or at least generally consistent within a culture, you’d be wrong. Every single person communicates love differently.
I’m here to shine the light bulb on your love language to ensure you don’t spend the rest of your next or current relationship trying to give and receive love in all the wrong ways.
There are five types of love languages and we use different combinations:
- Words of Affirmation
- Receiving Gifts
- Acts of Service
- Quality Time
- Physical Touch
1. Words of Affirmation
When your love language is different to your partner’s, you must learn to speak each other’s so you both feel truly loved by one another.
A few examples of Words of Affirmation are, “Thank you for doing the dishes/cleaning/taking out the rubbish.”, “You are so beautiful.” “You’re doing so great – don’t give up.”
The next step is to think further about how you want to hear it. Is it through handwritten notes, lipstick on the mirror or text message?
2. Acts of Service
The desire of people whose love language is Acts of Service is, to quote the iconic Elvis Presley, “A little less conversation and a little more action”.
It’s not that they don’t care for a few kind words or expect a personal attendant either. They place great value in doing something that needs to be done without being asked.
Acts of service are often about small gestures rather than, “I waxed your car, cleaned the entire house, washed the hound dog, have your lobster thermidor in the oven, and filed your taxes; now let me take off your blue suede shoes.” That certainly wouldn’t go astray…but the reality is much smaller in scope.
I’m not suggesting you sell your soul to slavery however do expect a “Suspicious Mind” when you suddenly turn on their love language but assure them it’s just because “I’m Stuck on You”.
This can be perceived as one of the pricklier languages of the lot. You think kids enjoy Christmas day the most? Ha!
A person with a Gifts love language is experiencing levels of bliss and joy those small children with their cherubic faces and unspoiled optimism can only dream about.
When it comes to the Gifts love language, it’s important to try to get away from the mindset that the person is materialistic.
For the Gift person, it’s more the time, thought and effort that goes into the gift that truly expresses the love than the thing itself. Simply surprise and delight at random unexpected times or when they might need a lift the most.
So, please ignore Mariah Carey and her misleading lyrics that some people “…don’t want a lot for Christmas, there is just one thing they need, they don’t care about the presents, underneath the Christmas tree.”
Yes, they probably want you for their own… accompanied by your incredibly thoughtful gift behind your back.
4. Quality Time
Would you agree that 90% of being married is simply yelling, “What?” from other rooms in the house? You might even consider this as ticking off Quality Time with your partner.
Sorry, that doesn’t cut it and I’m here to save you from relationship erosion, especially if it’s your spouse’s love language.
If this is the love language of your spouse, your partner wants to feel like your “other half”. Whatever activity you need to do today, they probably want to do it with you.
Running errands can even be a bit special for a Quality Time partner simply because you’re together.
5. Physical Touch
Now I’m sure you’d like me to head straight south with this one. It is not, however, only about ‘doing the deed’. The longer I counsel couples, the more I realise that physical touch can be a deal-breaker.
Physical touch could include holding hands, hugging, kissing, back rubs, arm around the shoulder or leg on leg while watching TV.
Stereotypically, women with a Touch love language often appreciate it will not always require “benefits”. Whilst this, too, is fabulous fun, it’s important to send a message that says, “You are more than my pleasure bunny and I love you for who you are.”
If you were raised in a culture that did not display affection in this manner, it can be uncomfortable or for some, excruciating and often embarrassing in public!
As with all new habits, practise. If you’ve found yourself in a relationship with someone with a Touch love language, they’ll appreciate your efforts more than you can imagine.
Joanne Wilson is the Relationship Rejuvenator and author of Renovate Your Relationship – All The DIY Tools For Your Most Important Project ($29.99). She is a neuropsychotherapist inspiring the community for thriving and dynamic relationships that impact generations for mental well-being. Find out more at www.relationshiprejuvenator.com