Of the countless ways we can show love to one another, five key categories, or five love languages, proved to be universal and comprehensive—everyone has a love language, and we all identify primarily with one of the five love languages: Words of Affirmation, Quality Time, Receiving Gifts, Acts of Service, and Physical Touch.
- Words of Affirmation
Actions don’t always speak louder than words. If this is your love language, unsolicited compliments mean the world to you. Hearing the words, “I love you,” are important—hearing the reasons behind that love sends your spirits skyward. Insults can leave you shattered and are not easily forgotten.
- Quality Time
In the vernacular of Quality Time, nothing says, “I love you,” like full, undivided attention. Being there for this type of person is critical, but really being there—with the TV off, fork and knife down, and all chores and tasks on standby—makes your significant other feel truly special and loved. Distractions, postponed dates, or the failure to listen can be especially hurtful.
- Receiving Gifts
Don’t mistake this love language for materialism; the receiver of gifts thrives on the love, thoughtfulness, and effort behind the gift. If you speak this language, the perfect gift or gesture shows that you are known, you are cared for, and you are prized above whatever was sacrificed to bring the gift to you. A missed birthday, anniversary, or a hasty, thoughtless gift would be disastrous—so would the absence of everyday gestures.
- Acts of Service
Can vacuuming the floors really be an expression of love? Absolutely! Anything you do to ease the burden of responsibilities weighing on an “Acts of Service” person will speak volumes. The words he or she most want to hear: “Let me do that for you.” Laziness, broken commitments, and making more work for them tell speakers of this language their feelings don’t matter.
- Physical Touch
This language isn’t all about the bedroom. A person whose primary language is Physical Touch is, not surprisingly, very touchy. Hugs, pats on the back, holding hands, and thoughtful touches on the arm, shoulder, or face—they can all be ways to show excitement, concern, care, and love. Physical presence and accessibility are crucial, while neglect or abuse can be unforgivable and destructive.
Determining Your Own Love Language
Since you may be speaking what you need, you can discover your own love language by asking yourself these questions:
- How do I express love to others?
- What do I complain about the most?
- What do I request most often?
Speaking in your spouse’s love language probably won’t be natural for you. Dr. Chapman says, “We’re not talking comfort. We’re talking love. Love is something we do for someone else. So often couples love one another but they aren’t connecting. They are sincere, but sincerity isn’t enough.”
Fading Tingle and Empty Love Tanks
After the first or second year of marriage, when the initial “tingle” is starting to fade, many couples find that their “love tanks” are empty. They may have been expressing love for their spouse, but in reality they may have been speaking a different love language. The best way to fill your spouse’s love tank is to express love in their love language. Each of us has a primary love language. Usually, couples don’t have the same love language.
Dr. Chapman recommends that you have a “Tank Check” 3 nights a week for 3 weeks. Ask one another “How is your love tank tonight?” If, on a scale from zero to ten, it is less than 10, then ask “What can I do to help fill it?” Then do it to the best of your ability.