The 5 love languages
"Love is a choice you make every day." Gary Chapman
Most people have at least heard of the brilliant concept developed by Gary Chapman “5 love languages” that talks about how we are wired when it comes to love, how we want (and need) to give and receive love.
Those 5 languages are:
words of affirmation
acts of service
Those are all wonderful things, what’s not to like? The difference is between something that’s nice and something that we need.
Someone might think "well, gifts are sure nice, but why don’t you tell me you love me". For some people, words are cheap, and it’s the acts of service that tells them their partner loves and appreciates them. (actions speak louder than words). For some it’s quality time that really fills their cup.
Quality time could be very tricky. Many would agree that cuddling next to your partner watching your favourite TV show is great quality time. For others, that’s not quality time at all, they might need an adventure together, or an activity that gets them talking and learning more about each other.
There’s another love language that’s been coming up in the last few years - Space. Distance. It’s when your partner needs space, solitude, time away - to feel recharged, to reconnect with themselves. This love language is hard to understand sometimes, but it’s the biggest gift you can give to someone who truly needs it - more than any words or quality time or an act of service.
The problems that many couples face when they speak different love languages - is that they keep missing each other in their attempts to give or ask for what they need to receive. It’s lost in translation. We miss the significance of other love languages because while it’s nice, it doesn’t give us what we need, we are not wired like this, we keep missing it. If gifts is not your love language, when you are going shopping, your brain doesn’t even think about getting your partner something special, but their brain goes there first. And in their brain they wonder - why don’t you get me something. Does it mean you don’t care? Or even the dreaded “What’s wrong with you?”.
I don’t know about you, but I used to feel shy about asking for what I really wanted. So I’ll drop hints. My love language is food, so I’d ask my partner - are you hungry? Or we’d be walking by a coffee shop and I’d ask - "Do you want a muffin?". He usually responded with “No, I'm not hungry.” “Nope, I don’t want a muffin”. And walk right past that coffee shop. Of course what I really meant was - I am hungry, I want a muffin. I would feel disappointed, rejected, not heard, misunderstood - and I’d project it onto my partner. I since learned how to ask and accept with gusto.
I used to think if I have to ask - it doesn't count. I came to a realization that this belief is not helpful at all, and my new motto is "Ask and you shall receive". I learned to ask, making my partner's life a lot easier and I've also learned how to truly enjoy it.
We tend to give what we want to receive - that may or may not be what your partner wants and needs.
We tend to assume just because we really like and need something, that it should be obvious to others. It is not.
We tend to believe that the person who loves us would naturally learn our language - but it doesn’t come naturally for many people. It take effort and time, and of course it’s possible to learn, but just like languages we speak, some are easier than others.
If you are not sure what your or your partner’s love language is, you can take a quiz (links below) or you can read more about it here
Take the quiz together. Talk to your partner about it. Ask for what you want. Make a conscious effort to give to your partner in their love language, not yours.
See what happens.
In Marriage and Couples Counselling, if a couple is not familiar with this concept, we often start there. Do you know your partner's primary love language? Do you speak it fluently? Do you need to learn? Are you able to ask for what you want? Do we need to clear the resentment and sadness that might've settled in if you two speak different love languages. It's a fun project to work on, and it brings real results.