Gary Chapman’s book, The Five Love Languages, was originally published in 1992 and has sold over 6,000,000 copies and has been translated into thirty-eight languages. Love is a universal interest and many people are interested in knowing how to speak their language – and their partner’s language – of love a little better. It is important that you know your love language as well.
Gary Chapman discusses what he discovered as the five love languages in his book and his theory is that each of us has a primary love language; that is, we give and receive love in a specific manner. The five love languages include: Quality Time, Words of Affirmation, Gifts, Acts of Service and Physical Touch. Even though all of these displays of love are wonderful at one time or another, there is generally one primary love language toward which each person gravitates. In many couples we have counseled, we have found that many people also have a secondary love language (from the same list above) that is also very important to each person (though, not quite as important as his or her primary love language).
Knowing your future spouse’s love language is very important. However, many of us are not aware of what his or her love language is unless we’ve taken the time to study it. This is because we generally give love the way we would like to receive it; however, if your future spouse does not perceive what you are doing as loving him or her, then he or she may begin to feel starved for love. Too often, couples come together and don’t learn how to effectively speak each other’s love language. Therefore, they are not able to express their love as effectively to their significant other.
For example, let’s say Janie’s primary love language is Quality Time and she craves it! If she exists more than a few days without spending time talking deeply or going on adventures with her boyfriend, she may feel down and even depressed. Her boyfriend, Tom, his love language is Gifts. He feels so loved when Janie gets him things she knows he’ll like. If Tom, swamped with work at the office, completely forgets about their date, he might scramble to the store, find the nicest flowers, teddy bear, and candy he can find, and rush to her house to make amends. But, if Janie does not understand that Tom’s love language is gifts, she may see those gifts as a feeble attempt to buy her forgiveness and cast the gifts aside. As a result, this would either break Tom’s heart or anger him since he is a “Gifts” person. Yet, from Janie’s stand point, his forgetting their date, for any reason (since she is a “Quality Time” person), means to her that he doesn’t love her or want to spend time with her. Do you see how not understanding each other’s primary love language can cause a world of heartache?
As I said before, it is important to know and understand your boyfriend’s/girlfriend’s love language. Yet, it is just as important to not use your love language as a means of nagging and manipulating each other. If you have expressed constantly to your boyfriend that you love Words of Affirmation but he is uncomfortable giving compliments in public, then don’t badger him to tell you how beautiful you are in front of others. When he shares those things with you in private, be thankful that he’s attempting to show you love in your language. If you have told your girlfriend repeatedly that you need Quality Time, but your idea of quality time is always watching sports or working on your motorcycle, don’t expect her to be sitting next to you every time you watch a game or get out your tools. Appreciate the time she does give to those things you love and cherish the time together.
Additionally, it is important to understand your significant other’s love language because he or she speaks it naturally. It flows out of him or her as freely as his or her native verbal language. They will likely show you love in that manner most of the time, but if you are not aware of how they naturally show love, you might miss it. If your boyfriend is frequently rubbing your back or lightly touching your hair, it may be clingy and annoying, but perhaps he is attempting to show you love and his love language is Physical Touch (note: the love language of Physical Touch is not the same thing as sexual touch). A man or woman whose love language is Physical Touch is likely often very physical touch in other relationships as well (e.g., hugging parents, giving high fives to friends, touching someone’s shoulder while talking to them, etc.). Maybe that woman who is always trying to clean or cook for you is not insulting your ability to take care of yourself. Maybe she values Acts of Service and is trying to love you by serving you. If this is the case, then prepare yourself for a life of service back to her as that is how she will primarily receive love.
Lastly, it is important to not demand to be loved in your love language. Demanding to be loved a certain way is a great way to talk someone out of showing you love altogether. If I’m trying to show my husband love and he insults my sincere efforts to show him that love (which he doesn’t, thank goodness!), then I’m not likely to put my heart out there again for a long time. It is fine to gently request that your boyfriend or girlfriend show you more attention in your preferred love language, but it is not good to insist that you be loved according to your own guidelines. That is selfishness at its finest and selfish relationships are often short and full of turmoil. If he or she really loves you, then that person will take the time to learn how to love you well in your language – and learning a new language can take some time.
If you don’t already know your love language, check out Gary Chapman’s Love Language quizzes! There are love language quizzes for singles, husbands, wives, and more! Share your results with each other and work on finding ways to show each other love in those areas.
Do you know in what ways you most desire to give and receive love?