Utilizing Our Love Languages as a Way to Enhance Our Relationships
Love is a complex and powerful force in our lives, which can often lead us to feeling a range of emotions, such as great joy and exhilaration as well as heartache and dismay. When we experience a sense of love in a relationship with another person with whom we can connect with and feel attached to, it can make us happy, feel fulfilled, and give us a sense of purpose.
Many researchers continue to theorize reasons that people fall in love, fall out of love and maintain their relationships as well as dissolve them. In this blog post we will look specifically at one researcher, Dr. Gary Chapman, and dive deeper into the five love languages that he proposed and how they can be a helpful foundation for enhancing our relationships.
The 5 Love Languages
Dr. Gary Chapman, author of “The 5 Love Languages,” originally published 30 years ago believes that everyone expresses and receives love differently. This realization is significant when considering how couples maintain their relationships, fall in love and/or fall out of love. The premise of the book is that everyone has one primary and one secondary love language, and that in order to have a healthy, fulfilling relationship, you need to learn what your partner’s love languages are and express love in those languages.
According to his theory, there are five primary love languages: Words of Affirmation, Acts of Service, Receiving Gifts, Quality Time, and Physical Touch. According to Chapman, understanding your own love language – and your partner’s love language – is the key to a thriving relationship as it allows a couple to understand how each person prefers to receive love as well as give love. When you know your partner’s love language(s), you can begin to express your love in a way that feels most meaningful to them. You’ll also be better equipped to understand when they need more love and to give it to them in a way that feels natural for both of you.
How to Use Each Love Language
Let’s explore what each of these languages mean and how we might give love in these ways as well as ask to receive love in these ways.
Words of affirmation:
Your partner may prefer that you express love through words, whether it’s telling your partner how much you appreciate them, what you noticed about their interactions with you or actions, saying “I love you,” or writing a love note. Oftentimes, it can be helpful to write your partner a card on special occasions or for no other reason other than to express your love and appreciation for them.
If this is your preferred way of receiving love, you might highlight this to your partner in a gentle way by stating “It felt really good when you said you enjoyed our conversation tonight and I hope that you can express how you feel about me and our time together more often.” It can be good to hear from your partner that they also believe things are going well
Acts of service:
Your partner may prefer that you show your love for them by performing caring and thoughtful acts, like making them breakfast in bed, taking the dog for a walk, doing the grocery shopping, getting up in the middle of the night with the crying baby or folding their laundry. Acts of service do not need to be extravagant gestures for them to be meaningful and often these behaviors are meant to express thoughtfulness and consideration.
It is important to pay attention to the types of actions that may be the most helpful or important to them- what will make their morning better, their evenings more relaxing or their drive to work more enjoyable. Often, when we complete tasks for others that they might consider stressful or time consuming this can be the most appreciated. If you prefer acts of service as your primary love language, consider highlighting to your partner that it is really important to you that they follow through with what they say they want to do or will do as you are looking for actions not words.
Giving your partner a gift is a tangible way of saying “I was thinking of you.” It doesn’t have to be expensive or break the bank for it to be a heartfelt gesture; it could be something as simple as a succulent plant or a handmade bracelet. It can feel special to know that someone was not only thinking of us when they were out and about but that they found something that captures something about us that we like or that reminds them of us.
If you prefer receiving gifts as a way of feeling loved and appreciated, consider reinforcing this on typical holidays that you might receive something and remind your partner that this is really important to you.
In order to promote quality time with your partner, it is important that you are both spending time together uninterrupted and focused on each other. It might be important to set limits on devices when engaging in quality time together, as this will limit distractions. It might also be helpful to pay attention to how your partner likes to spend time with you- perhaps you are working on a puzzle, playing a board game, cooking a meal together for dinner or going on a weekend road trip.
When a partner prefers the language of physical touch as a way of expressing and receiving love, they may be more apt to engaging in hand holding, back rubs, massages, kissing, cuddling, and acts of sexual intimacy, although not always. Remember that our way of engaging our hands and bodies together with our partners can express feelings of care, tenderness, appreciation, and fondness. Ask your partner if they prefer hugs or kisses when leaving or coming home or when watching tv and discuss comfortability in expressing physical touch in public or if they prefer it be a more private expression of love.
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