What are the 5 Love Languages?
Everything in life needs the right amount of nourishment. We nourish our bodies and our home, but are we neglecting to nourish our relationships? Love takes work and the work you put in will determine how successful your love life will be. Many people have very interesting theories about how to keep the love going, but one author has boiled it down to the science of love languages. Gary Chapman’s love touchstone book “The 5 Languages of Love” has given people not only the tools they need to accept true love in their life but more importantly, hope. Here are the five love languages and how you can make them work for you in your life.
Words of Affirmation
One of those most important tools that you have when it comes to keeping the love alive is the words you use. The power of words can never be understated. However, the words of affirmation are much more than just saying “I love you”. While it is important to vocalize how you feel for one another, there are many ways that you can do this.
Daily reminders of what you mean to each other are the perfect way to showcase your true feelings. As far as I’m concerned, this is the most important love language. I personally am full of self doubt and worry. This has very little to do with my actual current relationship and much more to do with the relationships I’ve experienced in the past. While it is important to give each relationship a fresh start, it is hard to not carry the scars of a love once lost with you. Daily affirmations for me are the constant reminder that I am exactly where I need to be when it comes to love. Luckily for me I have found a partner who has no shame in sharing exactly how he feels each and every day.
Each morning I wake up to a fresh cup of coffee on my bedside table and my husband telling me that he loves me. This is a routine that I have come to crave in my romantic life. Whether he is telling me about how amazing I am or how much he believes in me, these little words of affirmation are the best way to remind each other why we are in each other’s lives.
Find yourself too busy for daily reminders? Words of affirmation don’t always need to be done face to face. As for me, my life is insanely hectic. This is only exasperated once you have kids. With a busy work and performance schedule, as well as constantly being on the road to ballet practice or little league games, finding the time to get these words out can be a challenge all in itself. The one thing that I found that really helps my husband and I stay grounded is the way we text and call each other. People often tell us that we text like teenagers. We are constantly sending little reminders to each other throughout the day. Whether it is a little joke that made us think about the other or giving that person the support they need in a difficult time, words of affirmation are everything.
While this may seem like a new idea to you, it isn’t all that foreign. Communication has been hailed as one of the most important cornerstones of any successful relationship. This is exactly what words of affirmation are. It is another way to keep the lines of communication open and clear. While this is mostly positive interaction, this doesn’t mean that things will always be happy and shiny. Fights and disagreements will happen; you are not in a healthy relationship if they don’t. It is however, important to remember that even through the anger that words of affirmation are especially important. So, say it. Write it in a letter, text it or simply tell they person exactly what they mean to you. Your relationship will thank you.
While communication is important for any lasting relationship, nothing can replace quality time together. Nothing can kill a relationship faster than a busy life. This doesn’t mean, however, that you can’t continue to live your busy life, this just means that you have to find creative ways to incorporate each other into your busy schedule. This will not only give you so much needed face time but will also allow the other person to be an active part of your life.
This doesn’t mean that you have to sacrifice your life for each other, but finding creative ways to intertwine the two can really save your relationship. I understand that life can get in the way of quality time; I have a very hectic life so I know how hard it can be to find the space for quality time. The secret is to find those little pockets where schedules open up and allow for some much needed face time. One thing that I found works best for me in my relationship is scheduling the time for each other. Putting your relationship on a schedule may seem less than romantic, but it really is a love saver!
For me, Sunday nights are the one corner of time that my husband and I have to really showcase how we feel about each other. This has been a true live saver for us. Most importantly, we find that after 13 years of marriage and two young children, we still genuinely crave that special time together. Every Sunday night we put the kids to bed early and take the time to enjoy each other. While this may sound a little silly, it has absolutely given our relationship the care it needs to survive. After the kids are in bed we get a dolled up. While there is no shame in a night in with yoga pants on, getting dressed up for each other shows just that extra little bit of care.
Next we pick a meal that neither of us has ever attempted to cook before. Experiencing new things together is a great way to have a little journey as a couple. There is something very sensual about cooking together. Whether or not the outcome is good, it is the joint experience of putting something new together that is really special. We feed each other and laugh about our week together.
While this works for us, it might not be ideal for everyone. The trick is to find what will work best for you and your partner. Whether you can do a special Sunday night dinner or catch a weekly move matinee, your relationship will work once you make the time work for you. So sync your schedules and start connecting. Making this part of your routine can help to keep that spark going no matter if you are 13 years in or just starting out on the road to love.
We all know the old saying; it is better to give than receive. However, a good relationship can benefit from both. This doesn’t mean that you need to break the bank on gifts either. It is important to remember that it isn’t the price tag that will wow your partner but the thought and energy that went into finding a great gift. Flowers are always a nice way to show some love. There are a lot of mixed feelings when it comes to giving and receiving flowers. Flowers don’t always have to say “I’m sorry”. They can say anything or they can say nothing at all.
The best gifts are the ones that are unexpected and creative. The thought that goes into finding that one gift will show your partner that you not only care about their feelings but that you also listen to them. I have been lucky enough to have been blessed with a partner who is in tune with what I need and want. He rarely gets me flowers. However, when it does, it is completely out of the blue and on days that he knows I need that extra reminder that I am loved and cared for.
My favorite gifts to receive are the things that I mentioned in an off comment. I am always surprised when my husband shows up with that lipstick I once mentioned that I thought looked beautiful or those shoes that once made me swoon. I once asked him how he remembers all these little things and he let me in on his secret. He has a running wish list online where he adds the little things I talk about from time to time. That way when he knows I am in need of a special pick up or just sometimes out of the blue, he always has something on hand to give me.
While I may not be as good at giving gifts the way my partner is, I am a big believer in the little thoughts. These are the things that count the most. I am lucky enough to be able to work from home, but my husband has a more demanding job that means he spends a lot of time away from the comfort of our house. This is why every time I am out running errands I make sure to always stop to pick him up something special to help keep his day going. The look on his face when I bring him a surprise cup of coffee or a special mid-day snack is totally worth the extra errand. This way he knows that I am thinking about him and his well being even when I am out doing my busy day runs.
When people say that it is better to give than receive, they are not talking about the gifts themselves. They are talking about the way that you are making your loved one feel. Seeing the joy on your partners face beats a bouquet of flowers any day. So next time you hear your partner make a one off comment about something that really like, make a mental note of it. The love and care they feel when you give them this gift will be totally worth it.
Acts of Service
This love language, while the simplest, is still equally important. A common misconception about acts of service is that it means waiting on your partner hand and foot. This is not the case! I like to look at this particular rule as a “mean what you say, and say what you mean”. This means that you shouldn’t be making promises that you can’t keep. Dependability is a huge part of making any relationship stronger. This has a lot to do with trust. If your partner has come to depend on you, try your hardest to harvest that trust so that it can continue to grow. Over time you will find that not only will your bond be stronger, but your overall happiness will improve as well. There is no such thing as a successful relationship without the bond of trust.
For me, I find joy in the little ways that my husband showcases his acts of service. Because our schedules are so chaotic and random, it is the little ways that he shows his support, even when he isn’t physically around. Whether it is having the dishwasher unloaded before he leaves for work or always making sure that my gas tank is full, it is appreciated. This is just another way to show that even when we are not around each other, we are still putting care and thought into our partnership.
This wasn’t something that came naturally to us either; it is something we had to work towards. We all have those little quick hair triggers that can really bug us. While the small things might not be worth a fight, over time they can build up into a much larger problem. For me, this was far too common and happening far too often. I would hold onto the little things that bothered me, like leaving me an empty tank of gas, and store them away. After awhile I found myself to be bitter and less trusting because I let the little things build up. I had to check my emotions. I was upset at my husband for something that I never told him was a problem to me. So, how could I expect him to change if I wasn’t communicating my frustrations to him? That’s when the light went on. I had to clue him into the inner workings of mind. Every since then, my tank is good and full now!
Acts of service don’t always have to be only in necessity either. Little surprising or unexpected acts of kindness are a great relationship jump starter. The trick is to listen to your partner. Many times they are telling you what they need; you just might not have heard them. Body language is huge! Sometimes when their words don’t tell you what they need, their body will. My husband is a big fan of baths. When I can see him acting tense after a particularly stressful work day, I will surprise him by drawing him a bath.
So next time you see that your partner is craving something more from you, consider the little ways you can showcase your feelings through acts of service. If you see a window where you might be able to relive some of your loved ones tension, take it! It isn’t only about making them feel better either. The joy that comes from seeing your partner truly enjoy your small act of kindness will inspire both of you to keep up the hard work.
The last language of love is perhaps the most obvious one. While acts of kindness and sweet nothings are vital to any working relationship, physically touch is equally important. This is especially true for people who thrive on the sensation of touch. Physical touch is also the best way to let someone who is hyper sensitive know that you are there for them. Whether it is a gentle touch on the shoulder or a sweet kiss on the cheek, as long as it is a welcomed touch, you are on the right track.
In order to use physical touch in your every day relationship, you have to first know what it means to you and your partner. While you may really thrive on those early kisses, your loved one may not be so keen to the idea. This is something you will get better at the longer you are with someone. You will be more in tuned to what your partner wants, and more importantly, needs from a physical relationship. Speaking from personal experience, for me when it comes to physical expression, it is best to start slowly. This has a lot to do with trust and very little to do with how the other person actually feels about you. Just because your partner isn’t reacting to your physical affection does not mean that they don’t care for you deeply. So start slow and let your loved one lead the way.
The one thing about me that my husband hates is that I have no desire to cuddle. My distain for snuggling only got stronger once I had kids. Once my head hits the pillow at the end of a long day, the only thing on my mind is sleep. As a mother, this is something that is hard to come by. The last thing I want is to feel constricted and tightly held. Unfortunately for me, my husband has a gold medal in snuggles. This is something that he jokingly teases me about often, but underneath it all I can tell that it bothers him. This brings me to another important lesson in relationships; learn to compromise.
While you should never compromise situations that make you feel uncomfortable, a natural give and take is important to show the other person that their feelings matter. For me, I let him snuggle once and a while and I feel like that lets him know that even though I may not be the best at spooning, I am willingly to give it a good try.
Physical contact doesn’t always have to be sensual either. While having a healthy bedroom life is important to any loving relationship, it isn’t the only way to assert passion. I love the little things. The way he strokes my hair or holds my hand when I get anxious is enough to reassure me that we are in this together. My favorite way to physically showcase how I feel is to use small gentle gestures. For instance, on long car rides I love to gently rub his back and neck to help him relive tension.
Nothing can ever replace the warmth of another person’s skin. While I may not be the best at cuddling, I won’t turn down a chance to loving keep each other warm while binge watching our favorite show. I even use moments like when he is telling me about a particularly stressful day to show him I care through the sense of touch. These are the things that truly matter in any strong relationship. So get comfortable with each other. Touch each other, and follow each other’s lead. You may be surprised to find out where it takes you.
If anything, Gary Chapman’s 5 languages of love are perfect milestones to keep any loving relationship strong and moving in the right direction. Like anything that may be new to you, practice makes perfect. Don’t jump in and try them all out at once. Take your time. This way you can truly customize the way that these tools can work for you in your partnership. You will find that in time you will become expertly in tuned to what your partner needs and wants. More importantly, you will become more comfortable with telling your partner what you need.
Good luck and take care.