We all experience love in different ways.
Like my #BeingLovedIs project has shown, what it means to be loved can be so different from one person to the next — and no one way is right. If you and your partner have different love languages, it can seem like you’re not on the same page. One or both people in the relationship might wind up feeling neglected, which will cause a crinkle in your bond. The best thing you can do is figure out which love language applies to you and get your partner to do the same. Once you know who you each receive love, you can start to best communicate your love for each other!
Here are the five love languages identified by Gary Chapman.
Words of Affirmation:
If your love language is words of affirmation, you feel the most loved when you are told by your partner that they appreciate you or when you are complimented. A long, meaningful conversation will help you gain a secure attachment. If your partner falls under this love language, make sure to tell him that you care about him, thank him when he does something nice, and take the time to give him positive reinforcement when he needs it most. This partner will see your love when you say things like “You look so handsome today!” or “Thank you so much for picking up the groceries.”
The love language of physical touch doesn’t just mean sex. Someone who has this love language feels loved most when you hold her hand, give her a back rub, or give her a hug when she had a bad day. You can even take small actions, like putting your hand on the small of her back when you are passing by her in the bathroom. For someone who appreciates physical touch, even a small act is a reminder that you have a bond.
If your spouse’s love language is about receiving gifts, you can make her feel loved by showering her with presents. This person feels your appreciation and adoration when there is a tangible gift. This doesn’t make her shallow — she just feels most assured of your love when you take the time and effort to give a gift. The present doesn’t have to be elaborate, especially if you’re on a budget. A gift could be a homemade card or some flowers you pick up at a farmer’s market. The gesture will make her feel loved.
A person who loves with the language of quality time appreciates you dedicating your time to her more than anything else. Providing your undivided attention to this person is the thing that lets her know you really care. If your spouse needs quality time, turn off the TV every night, fold up your newspaper, and devote at least 30 minutes of your time to hearing about her day or connecting with conversation. This act will really let her feel loved more than most other things you do.
Acts of Service:
For this person, the phrase “actions speak louder than words” really hits home. When a person who has the acts of service love language, they won’t feel love from the phrase “I Love You” as much as by the deeds you do. A simple act like taking out the trash without being asked or picking her up from the airport with a smile will make your spouse feel loved. Other ways to show love this this type of partner would be to finish a chore she didn’t have time to complete, take her car to the shop for her, or do other things that make her life easier.
If you and your partner have different love languages, they don’t have to be conflicting — you just need to accommodate each other at times. Come see me, Jennine Estes, MFT for more advice. Click below to schedule an appointment right now!
About Jennine Estes, MFT
Think of me as your relationship consultant, I'm your neutral third party that can help you untangle the emotions and help you figure out what's really going on. I am a Marriage and Family Therapist in San Diego, CA. Certified in Emotionally Focused Therapy for Couples. Supervisor. I write relationship and self growth advice for my column Relationships in the Raw. Creator of #BeingLOVEDIs campaign. MFC#47653