The Five Love Languages
If you have ever read the book by Gary Chapman, called, The Five Love Languages you know that each and every one of us has certain ways we love one another and like to be loved in return. We each yearn to feel loved, but do we really know what makes us feel loved? The book talks about 5 main ways human beings feel or experience love which include words of affirmation, quality time, receiving gifts, acts of service, and physical touch.
If you don’t know your love language, there are several ways to find out. Take the quiz online, download the app or read The Five Love Languages book. Once you find out which love language is your strongest you can identify what works best for you to “feel” loved. Ask your partner and children these questions as well to get an idea what works for them to “feel” loved. You might think you are loving them the way they need to be loved, but in reality, you are most likely loving them the way you want to be loved. Identifying each other’s love language will make it easier to show love to each other in the best way possible.
What’s Love Got To Do With It
Now that you have identified your love language, you must learn how to speak it. Learning how to speak the love language is equally as important as identifying it. If you’re not showing the correct type of love to your significant other or children, then your efforts won’t be received or appreciated, purely because they don’t speak that language, you do! For example, you buy your spouse gifts, thinking that you are showing them how much you care, but in reality, you won’t be fulfilling their needs if their most important love language is words of affirmation. You must clearly communicate what your love language is to one another and learn how to show each other that you love them using their language.
How To Speak The Language Of Love
Words of Affirmation
How to communicate: Encourage your partner or children, validate their feelings, appreciate what they do, empathize and try to understand them by fully listening. Use the “I like it when you _____” or “you are so good at _____.”
What to avoid: Try to avoid non-constructive criticism, harsh words, and not recognizing or appreciating their efforts verbally. Do not assume they know how you feel without telling them. I’m pointing at us, ladies (as we are more likely to expect men to know how we feel without direct verbal communication). I’m definitely guilty of this. Honestly, this is one of my top love languages too and I also am not a mind-reader and prefer direct communication (with love of course).
Practical ways to show your partner: Send an unexpected note, text, or card. Encourage them genuinely and often. Show your gratitude and be thankful for what they do and contribute every time. Don’t hesitate to say something meaningful to them, even if the timing doesn’t seem right.
Practical ways to show your children: Write them love notes to pack in their lunch box. Watch your tone of voice when speaking to them, make sure it’s comforting. Truly listen to what they have to say. No need to go overboard with compliments, just give genuine praise and kudos when deserved. Sometimes being quiet and allowing them to communicate can “speak” volumes, then follow up with kind words. I occasionally write love notes on my daughters’ mirror with dry erase markers, and she writes notes on mine (she actually started this, and I adore it).
Don’t forget to simply tell them “I love you” and “you are important to me.” I try to never leave the house without each of my family members hearing the words “I love you” from me before I leave. You never know what the day will bring. If for some reason I can’t tell them in person, I make it a point to text or tell them over the phone.
How to communicate: Non-verbal is the name of the game with this one – use body language and touch to express love.
Avoid: Physical neglect, long stints without intimacy, being cold towards each other. DO NOT purposefully withhold sex or use it as a punishment/weapon against your partner.
Practical ways to show your partner: Hug, kiss, hold hands, show physical affection regularly. Make intimacy a priority. Even just sitting in close proximity will create a closer bond. Run your fingers through your partners hair, caress their face when kissing or rest your head on their shoulder once in a while. I know it’s difficult to be intimate with your partner with kids around, but there is no shame in scheduling “sexy time” if you have too.
Practical ways to show your children: Most kids love physical affection in the form of hugs and kisses. Try butterfly kisses, “Eskimo” kisses, and smooches on the cheeks. Hold hands while out and about. Cuddle under the same blanket while watching a movie on the couch. Create your own handshake or have a tickle session. Some children might be more apt to like fist bumps, high fives and “horseplay.”
How to communicate: Thoughtfulness, make your spouse a priority, speak with positive intentions, ask questions about what they like and what they are passionate about. Make certain you ask them what they want and get details. Never assume with those that like to receive gifts, unless they say they just love the thought put into it. If you want to surprise them, ask a family member or friend to do some reconnaissance.
What to avoid: DO NOT forget special occasions. Make sure you write down important dates in your calendar and keep notes on what your partner or children like and their sizes…then set alerts, reminders and more alerts! DO NOT mistake this language for materialism and be judgemental.
Practical ways to show your partner: Give tokens of affection and gifts thoughtfully, with and without special occasion. Even little things matter and are meaningful to those with this love language. Put some genuine thought into your gift. Do some research if you need to. Buy them gifts they can use for something that means a lot to them like a canvas if they enjoy painting or simply picking up their favorite treat on the way home. Give them presents to show you appreciate them. Express gratitude when you’re given a gift because they tend to put a lot of effort into choosing just the right gift for you.
Practical ways to show your children: Kids can be a little easier to buy presents for…they often times make it pretty clear what they want. You might also consider making their favorite meal, sending them a special delivery for a holiday like an Edible Arrangement, or letting them pick out their own outfit (no matter how weird it is) when it’s time to shop for school clothes.
Try to choose things that fit their interests, i.e., sports, STEM, arts, dance, etc. Surprisingly or maybe not surprisingly these days, my kids love to look at photos, so I print out a lot of photos to keep in albums or to hang on the walls. I have made each child personal photobooks of themselves throughout the year sometimes. I have a goal to make a photobook for each child for each year of their lives so they can keep them in their own homes someday to share with their families.
How to communicate: Take time to have uninterrupted and focused conversations at least once a week. One-on-one time is crucial. Setting clear boundaries will also go a long way in this department. Scheduling time to spend with these types helps to eliminate others disrupting your special time.
What to avoid: Try to avoid distractions when spending time together, and long stints without focused one-on-one time. DO NOT make running errands, meaningless tasks or chores the only time you spend together. DO NOT keep checking your phone while spending quality time. Consider having a “no phone” rule.
Practical ways to show your partner: Create special moments together and simply do things together. Now you can make doing chores quality time, but it takes some effort (strike up a conversation or sing songs together while folding laundry, instill something fun into the task). You will have to be creative if this is the only time you have together. If you can, try to designate at very least one day or night each week or even a few hours each day to spend quality time together. Some ideas include playing real games like 2 player card games or video games, have a date night, or make dinner together without the TV on. Short getaways and new adventures together are essential for keeping things exciting and fresh.
Practical ways to show your children: This is a BIG one for kids. Most kids crave quality one-on-one time, and it is critical that they get it, even if it’s only for a short time or in small doses. During nursing school my time was limited so I gave my daughter 15 minutes of undivided attention every night before studying, which meant the world to her. She was content knowing that she could count on me to do this every night and it was her special time.
Kids love to go on picnics, to the park, and to places like the zoo or the aquarium, even the mall sometimes. You don’t have to spend a fortune. You can also stay in and build a fort, play board games, read story or book together or camp out in the back yard. A special treat might be a date night/day with each individual child you have to their favorite restaurant, to a movie or an event that is significant to them. As long as you are engaged and actively playing or talking to them, they will feel the love.
Acts of Service
How to communicate: Use action phrases like “I will” and “I’ll help…” or “what can I help with.” They want to know you’re in it to win it with them and they don’t have to do everything on their own.
What to avoid: Avoid making the requests of other people a higher priority than them, a lack of follow-through on tasks, or assuming they don’t mind doing certain things and don’t need help. DO NOT overcompensate or do too much. DO NOT belittle them if they cannot do something as good as you or because they do not do it the “way you expect it to be done.”
Practical ways to show your partner: Do chores together or help with chores you don’t normally do (iron their clothes for the next day or pack their lunch). Make them breakfast in bed or if you don’t know how to cook, learn at least one dish to give them a break from cooking. Go out of your way to help make their daily workload easier. If you don’t normally handle the finances, pay a bill or two once in a while or consider alternating every other paycheck.
Practical ways to show your children: Not only can this love language show your child that you love and care for them, but this will also empower them to be independent and learn new skills. Always include your children (once they are old enough) in doing chores including cooking, cleaning, laundry and washing the car (keep it fun by listening to music or having a fun conversation at the same time). Every so often do one of their chores for them. If they ask you kindly do something for them, gladly do it with love (just don’t let them boss you around or let it get out of hand…some kids will try to push it). My son actually enjoys tidying up his toys if I make it like a game of musical chairs (play music while he picks up his toys, then randomly stop the music and he has to freeze). Before trying this method, he absolutely despised cleaning up his messes.
Kids Need Love Too
While this may seem obvious, not all parents love the same way or just didn’t have the same examples of how to show love growing up. There are so many practical and not so practical ways to express your love language and show people you love them by using their love language. There are several books available to help you and your family speak each other’s love language. I have provided links to them below. Showing them the proper love now could mean the world for their future and help them to create loving relationships.
For more about the The Five Love Languages, watch the interview below with Dr. Gary Chapman and Oprah.
Buy the book by clicking here.
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