What Are Love Languages And How Can They Help My Relationship?
Communication is key.
Relationships are hard work, there’s no doubt about it. Communication is key in all relationships and knowing your love language, and your partners, can help you both understand each other better. Coined by leading author of ‘The five love languages: the secret to love that lasts’ (1995), and marriage counsellor, Gary Chapman, he identified 5 different types of love language.
Your love language is essentially how you give and receive love: everyone does this differently and there is no right or wrong way to do it. In his later book, ‘The five love languages: how to express heartfelt commitment to your mate’ (2009), Chapman explains that “your emotional love language and the language of your spouse may be as different as Chinese from English”. Hence, because everyone differs, it’s important to take the time to learn how you both communicate in order for your relationship to grow and blossom.
He goes on, “we tend to speak our primary love language, and we become confused when our spouse does not understand what we are communicating. We are expressing our love, but the message does not come through because we are speaking what, to them, is a foreign language”. Just because your partner expresses love differently to you, does not mean that the love is non-existent. In order to identify your love language you can complete an online quiz.
Often, when we begin relationships we get so caught up in the romance that we forget to build the long-lasting foundations. Melanie Gail, a marriage celebrant and English Language teacher from Yorkshire says, "there's the bliss/honeymoon period in a relationship and in marriage where the couple try very hard to make their significant other happy. Then after a while they can feel a bit adrift, worrying a little more about themselves, not in a selfish way, but feeling like their needs aren't on the top of his/her minds anymore. Understanding their own love language and more importantly their partner's is critical to keeping things on track".
Note: you don’t have to speak the same love language for your relationship to work! Melanie says it's only important to "understand what makes them respond well and use that knowledge wisely".
So, what are the 5 love languages?
Words of affirmation
Essentially, if this is your love language, you like to hear compliments and expression of love and appreciation. You should communicate to your partner that you need encouragement, empathy and compliments to feel loved. If you are the partner of someone with this love language, you could send an unexpected text or compliment them often.
This isn’t just about sex, this simply means that you value intimacy through hugging, kissing, holding hangs and regular physical affection. If this is your partners love language, remember to satisfy their needs.
This doesn’t mean you’re materialistic, but thoughtfulness makes you feel loved. You give thoughtful gifts and gestures and you appreciate them in return. If this is your partners love language, you don’t have to splash your cash every day but small gestures like buying their favourite ice cream can make a huge difference, and remember to show gratitude upon receiving them.
You enjoy focused conversations and one-on-one time with your partner: you need your partner to truly listen and engage with you. If this is your partners love language, dedicate time to each other away from your phone and others.
Acts of service
This means you like actions and support from your partner. If this is your partner love language, go out of your way to help them with their to-do list or make them dinner. Put simply, do something thoughtful.
What do you consider your love language?? I wanna see something pic.twitter.com/Yp2GaDz8c5— 𝔩𝔢𝔰𝔩𝔦𝔱𝔞 ❀✿ (@lesleyygomez) November 11, 2020
But just because your partners love language may be predominantly receiving gifts doesn’t mean that they won’t appreciate hearing ‘I love you’ either. Incorporating all of these languages is important, but knowing what your partner needs and likes most, is useful.
Melanie goes on to say that being a marriage celebrant allows her to see couples at their very best, but notes that love is a commitment to be maintained and nourished. She suggests taking uninterrupted time to honestly discuss what means the most to each other.
Although it’s key to understand your own love language, the process is actually about your partner rather than yourself. Love language should teach us how to love our partner better and how to create a fulfilled relationship. So, once you have identified each others love language, next it’s time to have a conversation about fully understanding what it means: acknowledge your differences and discuss your preferences by truly listening to each other.
It will take time and effort to speak these languages into existence but it’s absolutely worth it because as a result, you’ll create a loving, equal and happy relationship.