Speaking the Language of Love
Written by Katie Mitchell, M.A.
Have you ever had the experience where you did something for your partner and then received no recognition for it? Did this experience then follow up with the thought, “I would have loved for them to do this same thing for me! Why are they not appreciating me or saying anything about it?” The answer to this question is sometimes much more simple than it seems. When couples discuss this common experience in counseling, I always ask the question, “Are you showing your partner love in the way that speaks love to them, or are you speaking love how you want it to be spoken to you?” Knowing your own love language and your partner can help keep this experience from happening.
Now, you may be thinking to yourself, “What is a love language?” If you have never read any information on the love languages, I highly recommend downloading the 5 Love Languages app or taking a look at Dr. Chapman’s website: http://www.5lovelanguages.com/profile/. The 5 Love Languages is based on the work of Dr. Gary Chapman. He posits that there are 5 categories in which expressing and receiving love fall into: quality time, words of affirmation, physical touch, receiving gifts, and acts of service. Quality time is all about giving the other person your undivided attention. Words of affirmation uses words to affirm other people. For a person whose love language is physical touch nothing speaks more deeply than appropriate touch. Physical touch does not mean sexual touch; instead, this will often look like hugs, holding hands, being in one another’s physical proximity, etc. For some people, what makes them feel most loved is to receive a gift. Often when people think of this love language they show concern of being deemed materialistic. Monetary value actually has nothing to do with this love language. Gifts are not required to be of a certain value; instead, the idea that your partner has thought of you while away and brought a token of that love is the heart of receiving gifts. The fifth love language is acts of service. For these individuals, actions speak louder than words.
Often times when I talk about love languages in session with couples, I ask couples, does it ever feel like you are speaking two different languages. It takes a lot of cognitive effort to think about how your partner wants to be shown love, than to assume they want to be shown love in the same way you do. In reality, most couples speak different love languages. Many couples will worry about their compatibility if they do not speak the love language. It is not a bad thing to want love expressed in different ways, nor does it have to mean that you and your partner are incompatible.
I recommend that you and your partner take your love language quizzes together, if you have not already done so. Make an evening of doing this activity! Carve out enough time so that you both have the opportunity to take your quizzes one at a time. Talk about the questions, discuss if you struggle to choose an option, mention if your partner’s choice surprised you, etc. If you enjoy learning about yourself and your partner, I would also recommend taking Dr. Chapman’s Apology and Anger quizzes!
If you and your partner have taken the love language quiz, but are unsure how to put that information to use in your relationship, reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I would love to set up an appointment with the two of you and help both of you speak love to one another more clearly!