One of the biggest issues I am faced with in the course of couples therapy is that of love being ineffectively expressed, and so inadequately received by each partner in the relationship. This disconnect can leave us feeling unloved and unappreciated, simply because our spouses are expressing their love for us in a way that is different from how we need to feel loved, and vice versa.
Gary Chapman first coined the concept of ‘Five Love Languages’, and I aim to explore what these are, and what they mean for us in our relationships, in this post.
Five Love Languages
The first, is Words of Affirmation. People for whom words are their primary love language express their love through them – words of comfort, compliments…
Acts of service is the second love language, one for whom love is expressed as deeds, as things they do for another.
The third love language is that of Receiving Gifts – presents and gifts given by their loved ones are most effective in showing love for these individuals.
The forth love language, Quality Time, involves uninterrupted, undivided time spent together.
The fifth and final love language is Physical Touch – yes, hugs and kisses; meaningful, purposeful touch.
So, what is the relevance of knowing anything about love languages? Well, the importance of it is twofold – being aware of one’s own love language goes a long way toward being self-aware, and having a comprehensive understanding of what love feels like for you, so that you can engage in behaviours in order to have this need met. The second, and most important, point regarding love languages is one that arises when two people in a relationship have two different love languages. Because we are all different people, this is to be expected; however, it can lead to either party feeling unsatisfied and unloved, simply because they are not getting their love needs met in the way that is most effective for them. They, in turn, are most likely attempting to meet their spouses love needs in a way that is familiar to them – which is not necessarily right for their spouse.
Ok, so imagine your love language is touch – you like holding hands and hugging and kissing, but your partner’s love language is receiving gifts. So whenever you touch them as an expression of your love, they do not respond the way you would like. You end up feeling rejected, or like you aren’t loved with the intensity with which you love. Now, your partner loves getting flowers, and so they often buy you gifts like chocolates. You accept the gift with grace and move on with your life, without giving it too much thought. Most likely, your spouse feels just as rejected as you did when they didn’t respond to your touch.
So if you show your partner love through touch, and they through gifts, there can be a disconnect which, as I mentioned earlier, can lead to issues that could really have been avoided if you just knew and understood the love language of your spouse. They like receiving gifts, so you buy them gifts to show them love in a way they can appreciate – in the same way, your spouse knows how much physical touch means to you, so they grab your hand first, or steal a kiss, in order to make you feel loved. Love goes both ways – showing love needs to involve using your own love language, but also speaking love to your partner in a way that they can understand.
If you’re keen, try this quiz and find out which love language you are: http://www.5lovelanguages.com/profile/