As a newlywed, I scoffed at the idea that there were different love “languages” — or distinct ways to give and receive love. Could there really be a wrong way to love my husband? I wondered.
The concept was coined by relationship counselor Gary Chapman, author of The 5 Love Languages, who says that people need to receive love in a specific way, according to their love language, to feel truly loved. The expression of love that you respond to most is your love language, and apparently we all have a primary one.
The five love languages are:
Words of Affirmation: Love needs to be expressed through compliments, praise, and other kind words, like “You look hot!” or “Your chocolate cake is even better than my mom’s!”
Acts of Service: Loving acts, like doing the dishes, picking up the kids from soccer, or taking out the trash, are more important to people who crave this love language than hearing “I love you.”
Receiving Gifts: The cliché about women wanting flowers and diamonds is true — especially for those who respond most to this love language.
Quality Time: It’s all about getting undivided attention from your partner, whether it’s watching a show together or just talking about your days, when it comes to this love language.
Physical Touch: Yes, there’s that. But this love language also includes all the other good stuff that comes before that – hugs, kisses, massages, holding hands, and other ways to connect physically.
A few years into our marriage, however, I realized that Chapman might be onto something.
I was discovering that my way of showing love wasn’t always matching up with my husband’s desired way of receiving it, and vice versa. In other words, we didn’t know each other’s love languages. Occasionally, I’d attempt to mow the lawn, a job that was usually my husband’s, as a way to lighten his load after a busy week. Turns out he would have preferred I sat with him on the couch and talked about the week, letting the grass go until he got to it. My husband would tell me he loved me when what I really wanted was for him to plan a date night out for us.
It was important for us to get on the same page to keep our relationship healthy, according to Chapman. After taking a love language quiz and lots of talking, my husband and I started to better understand each other. We were able to not only focus our energies on those “languages” that resonated most with the other person, but also not waste time trying to prove our love in a “foreign” language.
Let’s be clear: Most people enjoy all five of the love languages to some degree, but Chapman explains that most people have one to two primary “languages” that hit home for them. To find out what your primary love language is, check out the Love Languages website to take a short quiz. Even better — do it together!
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