At the risk of venturing into cheesy territory (too late, mister!), I have had positive experience with The Five Love Languages, based on the book by Gary Chapman and written about extensively across the internet. Two observations on this. First, how do you figure out your partner’s (or your own) love language? The answer isn’t too complicated: pay attention. What are you doing in the moments when you feel loving feelings?
- Are you offering to bring them a drink or wash the dishes while they sit and relax? Acts of Service.
- Are you lobbying for a game night or chatting away the afternoon on the couch? Quality Time.
- Do you make crafts for them or buy them trinkets from your travels? Gifts.
- Do you find yourself giving them hugs or back rubs, or squeezing them tightly to your waist? Physical Touch.
- Are you prone to texting love messages and writing cards? Words of Affirmation.
My girlfriend’s primary love language is Acts of Service. This is not my primary language (mine is Words of Affirmation) so I try to stay aware that even though I may send a loving text or leave a note under her pillow, while she appreciates these gestures she doesn’t feel my affections as I did when I wrote the note. However, if I help her mop the floors or pick up dog poop in the backyard, or hang a mirror or move some furniture, these acts can evoke an emotional reaction from her, which always surprises me. My suggestion to you: Pay attention to your own actions and learn your own language, then share it with your partner. It’s a fantastic way to grow together.
My second observation is that love languages don’t apply only in our romantic relationships. Kids have love languages, too. My daughter’s is Gifts. Head to the mall and buy a $2 pair of earrings, and she is on cloud nine. Big presents are fun, but for my daughter even the smallest gift sends her heart soaring. Her room is filled with knick-knacks and trinkets and clothes and school supplies and so forth – the gifts she was given that made her feel loved. My son’s primary language is Quality Time. When he wants to connect, he suggests working together on the jigsaw puzzle, or going to the climbing gym, or riding bikes. He’s often happy just to walk with me to the grocery store or eat a slice of pizza together and play a word game on his phone.
Our friends and colleagues at work, at church, in the community – they all have a primary love language. It’s harder to discover in these relationships because we spend less time together, and we put up social defenses that we hide behind. Imagine what would happen if we took notice of each other’s love languages.
I wonder, what’s your love language?