The Five Love Languages® is a great tool for improving relationships, whether you’re at the beginning of a new relationship or you’ve been married for decades. It is a very simple and understandable method of connecting with your significant other – as well as your children, parents, siblings, friends, and anyone else you are in a relationship with. There is an extensive array of books, quizzes, and online resources you can look into at http://www.5lovelanguages.com. Here I will offer a brief overview of this concept which you can use as a springboard for further exploration; I will continue with a series of posts discussing each love language on it own. We can also help you develop these ideas in person, and I encourage you to contact us and set up an appointment if you are interested in delving more into it.
The basic principle is that every person has a “language” in which they are most able to receive and feel love. This means that the way you communicate love to one person is not the same way you communicate love to another person if you want both to feel loved by you. It also means, significantly, that the way you feel and receive love is not necessarily the same way your romantic partner feels and receives love. You may feel very cared for when your partner cooks you up a big, fancy dinner; your partner may not care much for a cooked dinner but loves to walk in the park together. These are not just different interests; they are the channels through which you need to communicate love to each other.
This is an important point and really the foundation of the whole approach as it relates to us practically. It is very natural for us to express love in the way that speaks to us most. But this can lead to the not-uncommon situation of partners feeling that they are giving everything they can to their loved ones and being severely frustrated to find that their loved ones somehow aren’t getting the message. A mentor of mine tells the story of a boy who complained his mother didn’t love him. She was astonished to hear this; she said she placed love notes in his lunchbox every morning when he went to school and could not comprehend how he could say such a thing. The boy’s response was, “but she never hugs me.” This is a perfect example of one person not speaking the other’s love language – and, just as a person speaking Portuguese to a person from Japan won’t get their message across, so too in love. So, what exactly are these languages?
Gary Chapman, the originator of this system, has developed a classification comprising only five love languages. They are:
- Words of Affirmation. This refers to the kind and loving things one person says to the other.
- Acts of Service. Whether it’s a grand gesture or something as mundane as sweeping the floor for your spouse, this is the primary way some people receive love.
- Receiving Gifts. This is not necessarily a materialistic perspective: a handmade card can count for as much as a diamond necklace.
- Quality Time. Anything two people do together in which they engage and interact with each other can be a powerful message of love.
- Physical Touch. A peck on the cheek, a back rub, and sexual contact can all be forms of loving physical touch.
Discovering your own love language is an important step in learning to use the Five Love Languages®. Equally important will be discovering your partner’s. We will explore the different characteristics of the various languages and their dialects in coming posts, followed by a discussion of how to figure out the primary languages for you and your partner. Stay tuned!
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