It is true: for centuries, people have married and stayed married without mastering the idea of love languages, so it is possible to have a good relationship and future marriage (or, at least, not get divorced) without paying attention to such a concept. However, people have been speaking love languages since the beginning of time. Maybe they didn’t know they were speaking a love language when they patted someone’s back, gave a compliment, or helped with a chore, but they were messages of love even before Dr. Chapman gave them a name and helpfully explained them.
Some of the most satisfying marriages of yesteryear were probably filled with the speaking and receiving of each person’s primary love languages. Some couples probably spoke their honey’s love language naturally and others had to learn what their husband or wife needed; but, I believe since the dawn of time, humans have needed love and have had different ways of giving and receiving love. Personally, I am thankful that I am living in a time where so many resources are available to help me understand my sweet husband better!
If you are just now learning about the idea of love languages, you may be closer to knowing your sweetheart’s love language than you realize. In the next two posts, we’re going to briefly discuss each one. Afterwards, you may be well on your way to discovering your love language and your special someone’s love language!
- Words of Affirmation. Words of affirmation are enjoyed by most everyone as long as they are sincere. However, for those whose primary love language is Words of Affirmation, hearing compliments, “atta boy”s or “atta girl”s, and being bragged on by others lights up their world. As Dr. Chapman writes, “it fills their love tanks.” If your boyfriend or girlfriend lights up and suddenly becomes extra happy, extra loving, and extra respectful after receiving a compliment, you may have stumbled upon his or her primary love language. Is he or she motivated to work harder after hearing positive reviews about his or her work? Does he or she often ask questions that come across as fishing for compliments? Before assuming he or she is vain, consider the idea that he or she may thrive on words of affirmation. You may even want to ask your sweetie if he or she feels consistently affirmed by you or if you need to step it up in that area. ~smile~
- Quality Time. How is it that some couples can be apart for weeks at a time and it not seem to bother them very much while other couples can be apart for a shorter periods of time and one or both of them fall apart? There could be a few explanations for this (e.g., stressful parenting seasons, emotional wounds, etc.), but one strong possibility is that one or both people in the relationship speak Quality Time as their primary love language. When these folks have extended periods of time without connecting, talking, and sharing their lives with those they love, their love tank quickly drains. Does your sweetheart seem extra sensitive when she doesn’t get enough one-on-one time with you? Does your honey make comments about you being too busy when you are sending work e-mails from your phone during dinner? Before getting annoyed at him or her for being on your case about spending more time together, be aware that he or she may genuinely need your quality time to feel loved and appreciated. You may even want to ask him or her if he or she needs more of your time. If the answer is, “Yes,” then work out some consistent times to spend together with minimal distractions (e.g., Thursday night date night, talking during meals instead of watching TV, etc.).
- Gifts. Who doesn’t love a gift? Believe it or not, a lot of people don’t care much for gifts. In doing some research for an upcoming PreEngaged product on gifts (stay tuned!), I have discovered that a number of people find the whole process of giving and receiving gifts awkward and unnecessary. There is a solid chance that those people do not speak gifts as their primary love language! In fact, if someone needs quality time, words of affirmation, or another love language, a gift may feel like an attempt to brush him or her aside in a quick and impersonal way; but, to a Gifts person, giving a gift is screaming “I love you” at the top of his or her lungs! Do you feel like your honey is always hinting that he or she wants a gift? When you come back from a leisurely day of shopping, does he always ask if you bought him something? When you come home from a business trip, does she playfully peek in your bag for a souvenir? Don’t assume off that bat that she’s a gold digger or he’s a mooch. Maybe your sweetie simply wants to know you love him or her. If your boyfriend or girlfriend is excited by all kinds of gifts including candy bars, flowers picked from a field, or tickets to the big game, chances are he or she is a Gifts person. However, if your honey is only satisfied with large, shiny, prestigious, or expensive gifts, you may be dating someone who will never be satisfied with your income – not someone with the love language of Gifts.
- Acts of Service. I’ve come to the conclusion that this is my least needed love language. If I were to compare love languages to verbal languages, acts of service would sound as foreign to me as Mandarin Chinese. I can pick up some Spanish and a little French, but if you were to scream, “Heather, you are my sun, moon, and stars! I love you with an undying love!” to me in Mandarin Chinese, I would probably just stare at you with a quizzical and dumbfounded look on my face. Thankfully, Eric doesn’t need Acts of Service either, so that works great in our house. However, if Eric was an Acts of Service person and he went out of his way to help me with chores, fix broken appliances, and keep my car’s engine in perfect order, I would probably just think he’s a great, responsible, caring man. Unfortunately, my love tank would still be empty. I would be extremely grateful for all of his help, but I wouldn’t receive the help as a statement of love in the same way I would if he said, “Instead of spending the day working on your car, I’d rather go on a date with you.” But, if I knew he was an Acts of Service person, I could remind myself that he is showing me love in his way. Though I would still need him to focus his attention on me from time to time (and I would need to gently tell him that as he is not a mind reader), I could smile and know that he is pouring love on me in his native tongue. Does your girlfriend ask you for help a lot? Does your boyfriend seem happy when you come over and help him do his laundry or clean his bathroom? Maybe he or she isn’t using you or being lazy. Maybe your honey genuinely feels loved when you help him or her out. On the other hand, if you give your help to him or her repeatedly and your acts are taken for granted (i.e., there are no signs that he or she feels loved and he or she does not show you love in return), you may be dating a user. If that is the case, I would recommend moving on. If someone uses you before marriage, he or she will continue using you after marriage (and often to a greater extent).
- Physical Touch. This might be the most obvious love language of all. Those who thrive on physical touch usually give it to others freely. They may slap you on the back when you pass them in the hall. They are the ones that hug friends and family without thinking twice. The guy who sits three rows in front of you at church and is always rubbing his girlfriend’s neck – yep – he’s physical touch! It’s important to note that the love language of Physical Touch has *nothing* to do with sexual interaction – that expression is in an entirely different camp. Some who love physical touch may not be as forthcoming as others, particularly if they are shy. However, after a physical touch person begins to feel close to you, it’s only a matter of time before she begins touching your arm during a conversation or before he begins high fiving you and giving you pats on the back. Unfortunately, physical touch can be received as flirty behavior or a come on, so some people who are craving physical touch refrain so they won’t give off the wrong impression. Other physical touch people find themselves in trouble more often than others because they don’t even realize when they are hugging their friends’ girlfriends or rubbing the arms of married men as they walk past at church. If you are a physical touch person and you are dating a physical touch person, I congratulate you on your match and I caution you on spending too much time alone! ~smile~ If you are a physical touch person dating someone who is uncomfortable with public displays of affection, honor his or her need for distance, but gently request more loving (non-sexual) touches when you are in private. If your boyfriend or girlfriend is just oblivious to your need for touch, kindly let him or her know that holding hands in public and lots of hugs are deeply appreciated. You may even want to have a code word you can use to communicate when you want a hug or kiss. And, if you are dating someone who craves physical touch but you don’t, work at giving it anyway. It won’t come easily at first, but it will get easier and it will communicate so much love to your boyfriend or girlfriend. You may not enjoy touching, but chances are you do enjoy your boyfriend or girlfriend, so go out of your way to show how much you care with a few surprise kisses, random hugs, and holding hands. It’ll be worth it! ~smile~
Even though I’ve been married for a while now, I have gained a lot from reading The Five Love Languages: Singles Edition. I wish I had read and absorbed it before I got married. It not only discusses romantic relationships, but it also dives into parental relationships, friendships, sibling relationships, and work relationships (we’ll focus on the non-romantic relationships in our next post of this book review series). Dr. Gary Chapman has an easy-to-read and retain writing style and his real life examples make the material come to life. You won’t be sorry you took the time to read this book and invested in the future of your relationships – romantic and otherwise!
Have you gained insight by noticing the love languages which naturally come from others?