Kate Campbell, PhD, LMFT
The 5 Love Languages and How they Can Enhance Your Relationship
Hello! Hola. Bonjour. Guten Morgen. Ola. Hallo. Privet.
I love languages. A budding linguist in school, I enjoyed learning other languages and found a natural knack for understanding different languages. I also love communication, whether it be verbal or nonverbal communication. A quick glance around while standing in a crowded room will provide you with more information than an hour-long conversation with any individual.
A question most couples ask when seeking counseling services is, “How can I communicate better with my partner?” Whenever I see a couple stuck in poor communication patterns, or lamenting about how the other partner “just doesn’t understand” I’m reminded of the many ways we communicate with one another and one of the most powerful ways we communicate: through our love languages.
The Five Love Languages were developed by Dr. Gary Chapman in 1995 as a way of explaining how individuals show and like to be shown, love. Dr. Chapman identifies the five love languages as:
Words of Affirmation
Acts of Service
Maybe you already have an idea of what your love language is and how you like to be shown love. A common example often used in counseling is when one partner unloads the dishwasher as an act of service to the other and then becomes upset when they feel unappreciated by their partner.
Maybe you need a lot of quality time with your partner and watching TV together after dinner doesn’t really cut it for you. Whatever the case may be, if you and your partner don’t understand each other’s love language, you’ll be hard-pressed to find satisfaction in your relationship and may even grow to become angry or resentful towards your partner.
If you’re unsure of your love language, or your partner’s love language, visit 5 Love Languages and take the free quiz. Your partner will be able to take the quiz too and once you’ve both received your results you can have a conversation about what the results mean to your happiness as a couple.
Here’s a little bit of what each love language is about:
Words of Affirmation: When you tell your partner, “You look nice today” or “You’re really a great parent” or “I really appreciate how hard you work for our family” you’re using words of affirmation to express your love to your partner.
Quality Time: Quality time is when you give your undivided attention to your partner, either by asking about their day or engaging in conversation about a hobby or passion of his or her.
Receiving Gifts: It might seem strange, but for some individuals, the process of thinking about a special gift to give by their partner and/or receiving something thoughtful from their partner is how their love is shown. Even small gifts are gestures of love and should be treated accordingly.
Acts of Service: Acts of service include all those little things you do for your partner or your partner does for you. Like receiving gifts, these don’t need to be huge to show love; something as simple as emptying the dishwasher, doing the laundry, or taking out the trash are just a few of the ways acts of service show love.
Physical Touch: Some people just love to be touched. They love hugging, kissing, holding hands, etc. For people whose love language is physical touch, cuddling can mean more than the words, “I love you”.
Now you know the five love languages, what can you do with them and how can they enhance your relationship? For starters, find out what your top two love languages are (you might have a primary and secondary way you show love and like to be shown love), and secondly, find out your partner’s love language.
Once you’ve found out your love language, a whole new world of communication is opened up to you and your partner. If you understand when your partner does the dishes for you, they are showing you, love, you’ll return the kindness and positivity by doing something for them in his or her own love language. The same holds true for you when you speak to your partner in his or her love language; they will respond to you in kind.
And who doesn’t want better communication in a relationship?
It’s easier to forget the language our partner is speaking to us, especially when we’re caught up in all the little things life throws at us: work, school, children, household chores, a social life, etc. I encourage you to find a way to be mindful of what you’re partner is trying to tell you when he or she does something that may not seem to make sense. Perhaps trying to swoop in for a kiss or hug when you’ve just come home from the gym isn’t an attempt to be annoying, but rather for your partner to show you affection.
If you want to learn more about the love languages, figure out your own love language, or find a way to get you and your partner speaking in love again, Dr. Kate Campbell, LMFT is just a phone call 954-391-5305 or click away to discuss your options and how we can work together to get you the life and relationship you want. Dr. Kate provides couples counseling, pre-marital counseling, and marriage therapy in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.