Love! We want it, we need it, and we thrive on it! But how do we express and receive love from those around us, especially from our partners? Is love expressed and received in one way? Do you consider yourself a good lover?
When you are in a relationship with your partner/spouse, you want to feel loved, cherished, and wanted at all times. But why does it sometimes feel like you are not on the same page? The most common reason for this is the communication barrier. Everyone experiences love differently, and it’s easy to miss the mark when it comes to showing that you care.
How you show love to your partner is more than just hugs and kisses. You will express love differently; therefore, it is essential to learn your love language and your partner’s love language.
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WHAT IS A LOVE LANGUAGE?
Language is one way that we express ourselves. We speak the language those around us people know because we want to be understood. Just like verbal language, there is body language, written language, and love language. We can connect with others using all of these kinds of languages, and when we express love and communicate our love to our partner through their love language, it can help our relationship thrive.
When you are in a relationship with your partner or spouse, challenges will arise, and the spark can sometimes go dim. Now, this does not indicate that the relationship is on a downward spiral, but rather it may be time to take a step back and look at how you are showing love to your partner. Are you showing love based on what you think and feel is the right way for you, or are you showing your partner love through the way he/she wants?
Love languages are universal ways that we give, receive, and interpret love. Some love languages may flow naturally, while others may require more work to learn and understand.
THE 5 LOVE LANGUAGES
This love language is all about undivided attention. The keyword here is quality, so people who have quality time as their primary love language will value spending time with their partners and getting their full attention.
There are no distractions; you are not on your phone or doing anything that will take away from the time spent with your partner. The key here is to dedicate time together without all of the distractions. Be deliberate with your time, be mentally present, and be affectionate. If you avoid doing these things, your partner can feel hurt by your actions.
Ideas to try:
- Go for a walk together
- Silence your phones and have a movie night
- Eat together while having personal conversations
- Try a new experience together
- Take vacation together
- Cook an original recipe together
- Watch the sunrise together
Acts of Service
This love language is about doing things that you know your partner/spouse would like. Your helping is a sign of love. Acts of service should be done with positivity and with your partner’s happiness in mind. This is how they feel love. Your acts of services do not have to be a grand gesture because it is the thought that counts. Actions that go above and beyond help them feel your love towards them. Not helping and making broken promises are incredibly painful for those who express Acts of Service as their love language.Ideas to try:
- Doing the dishes
- Taking the garbage out
- Waking up to take care of your baby/child
- Doing the laundry
- Assisting with cleaning
- Getting the groceries
- Filling the car with gas
For people with this love language, physical touch by their partner has a powerful impact. Now, this does not mean that your partner is all for over-the-top PDA, but rather it helps them to feel more connected and safe in the relationship. Your partner wants to feel you close, not just emotionally but physically. Lack of touching can be painful for people whose primary love language is physical touch.
This love language is more about intimacy. However, it’s important to note that even though sex is considered the cornerstone of a relationship, it is not the only type of intimacy. Sex is great, but it is essential to understand that sex and intimacy are not the same. There are two types: Physical intimacy and emotional intimacy – holding hands, kissing, hugging, being vulnerable, feeling safe, and having a deep level connection.
Like someone who might feel loved after reading a note from their partner, another person may feel that same feeling when their partner touches their thighs. We all need physical touch in our intimate relationships, but it can be even more important for those whose primary love language is Physical Touch.
Ideas to Try:
a. Hold hands in public
b. Hug your partner from behind (this is my favorite kind of hug)
c. Give your partner a massage
d. Run your hand through their hair or even off to wash their hair!
e. Touch their erogenous zones
f. Surprise them with a kiss on the neck
Can you think of others?
Words of Affirmation
If your primary love language is Words of Affirmation, then your partner’s appreciation and love are best affirmed with words. You feel love when your partner tells you how attractive you look or when they say how proud of you they are.This love language is about building your partner up. The shortest and simplest praise goes a long way. Words mean a lot to your partner, so be genuine with those words because your partner cares most about the intentions and emotions behind those words. Be real and don’t fake it.Examples of Word of Affirmations:
a. “I just want to let you know I am proud of you.”
b. “You are so pretty when you wear your hair down.”
c. “I appreciate you, and I am lucky to have you.”
d. “I am happy and proud of this new project you are working on.”
e. “I want you to know that I am here for you and support you.”
Now I know we ALL love to receive gifts! I mean, who doesn’t? But if this is your primary love language, receiving gifts is essential because of the sentimental value it will hold. You feel the love from the gifts your partner gives you, whether it is big or small.This love language isn’t focused on the material itself, but it just means that a meaningful or thoughtful gift makes your partner feel loved and appreciated. Your partner is reminded that you are thinking of them.Ideas to Try:
- Pick up your partner’s favorite snack or drink on your way home
- Give them an appreciation card
- Buy their favorite flowers to place in the living room
- Surprise them with a personalized gift
- Get them a gift that you know they need
WHY COMMUNICATION IS IMPORTANT FOR GIVING AND RECEIVING LOVE
Between busy schedules and stressful situations, expressing love can start to dwindle. We may forget to compliment, give gifts, and spend time together. The things that say, “I love you” seem to either not get said or done. This is why communication is vital when it comes to love languages.
We can understand all the 5 Love Languages, but if we do not communicate with each other, how can we genuinely express love to our partner in the way that they want?
Healthy communication is fundamental to your relationship. When you experience a positive emotional connection with your partner, you feel safe and happy, and you both can communicate and talk about your primary love language. Over time, you and your partner’s primary love language can change as you experience life together. Always remember to pay attention to nonverbal cues, be a good listener, and be honest.
HOW TO IDENTIFY YOUR LOVE LANGUAGE?
Most likely, you communicate love to others the way you want to be loved. Ask yourself the following questions:
- How do you express love to your partner/spouse?
- What do you complain about most in your relationship?
- What makes you feel most loved by your partner/spouse
My primary love language is Acts of Service, followed by Words of Affirmations. Now I absolutely love quality time and receiving gifts, but Acts of Service and Words of Affirmations hold more weight and make me feel love and appreciated by my husband. We have talked about our primary love languages and how much it means to us and which ones may require work.
Some love languages will come easier than others, and there are times when life gets in the way, and expressing love to our partner becomes difficult. But with open communication, dedication, and the willingness to learn and grow together, expressing love to each other in the way that we want speaks volumes for us.
Have an idea of your love language, but want to know for sure what it is? Take the quiz here.
HOW TO INTERPRET YOUR PARTNER’S LOVE LANGUAGE
Just like how we want to receive love, so does your partner/spouse as well! Take time to not only communicate with your partner but also observe the way your partner expresses love to you. Do they always greet you with a hug? Then their primary love language may be physical touch. Do they pick up your favorite snack for you on their way home from work? Then their primary language may be receiving gifts. My husband’s primary love language is Acts of Service followed by Physical Touch. Whenever I do an Act of Service for him, he often says “I appreciate you” which makes me to feel loved and appreciated.
Take note of how and when your partner feels most loved and then learn to speak their love language too.
Having a healthy relationship requires you to understand that you and your partner are two separate people with different views, opinions, interests, dreams, and goals. This means that your love languages can differ as well, and that is okay! What’s essential is that you “realize that you’re each here to enrich and enhance each other’s lives, and you work to make that happen” (Chapman, 2007).
“Many couples love each other in their mind, but one may not feel loves by their partner because the partner is expressing love in a language the other person doesn’t understand or want, which creates issues” (Chapman, 2007). Learning your partner’s love language and yours may take time, but starting that conversation is one step in the right direction. Don’t be afraid to talk about what makes you feel most loved and appreciated. It will help you both to be more empathic towards each other and your relationship bond stronger. Learn to express love to each other from your partner’s perspective. Be open, be vulnerable, be dedicated, and be willing to grow and learn together.
When my now husband and I first got together there was some true learning required. I’m a talker and he IS NOT (or his whole family). The first time I said “I love you” even casually he was flusters and I saw the same response from his mom and aunt. But in time I learned to see his “I love you” in his actions and those of his family and he learned that sometimes you can simply say it when you’re thinking it.
Sadie, thanks so much for your feedback! Your experience that you mention, just shows how much we as human beings we differ. The way we express and want to receive love will be different, but taking the time out to truly learn and understand our partner, and learn our love language plus our spouse, can really set the tone for a healthy long lasting relationship.
I liked this post. I have read the book ‘The 5 Love Languages’ by Gary Chapman, which is equally good. I have also read ‘The 5 Love Languages For Children’. It is interesting how we all are wired differently. This equally applies to our children. If we can connect with our children’s’ love language, we can be better prepared to raise them in such a way to ensure that they know that they are loved and flourish.
Eric thanks so much for your feedback and I couldn’t agree with you more! Children have their own love languages as well and not just adults. And if parents take time out to learn their children’s love languages they will be able to reach them more on and emotional level which in turn will help children to grow into emotionally strong adults.
I’m definitely not a gift-receiver, I’m all about touch and time 🙂
Cora | https://www.teapartyprincess.co.uk/
Hello Rebekah, I came across you on Twitter. “The Five Love Languages” by Gary Chapman is always a great read; I received the book as a gift years ago. Your article captures the essence of the book quite well. You mentioned that you are a Caribbean girl, so am I. Great to see a fellow Caribbean woman in the writing space.
I love this post, I’ve only recently heard about love languages and they are so important to understanding what your partner wants and needs 🙂 thank you for sharing these thoughts on keeping your relationship strong x
Another wonderful post! I’ve been learning more about Love Languages lately and you’ve explain it really well. I have a tendency, like a lot of people, to show love in the way I like to receive it. I have to pay more attention to what my husband’s Love Language is and express my love in a way he understands it. Thanks for sharing this!
This article is amazing, I love it! You have it all in one. You’re definitely right about relationships having their languages and so one relationship can’t explain the other. There are a million ways to show our love, and for you to get on the same page, communication and honesty is key. Learned a lot! Thank you so much for sharing xo
I’ve always struggled with intimacy and relationships in general, due to my borderline personality disorder. My partner told me one of the ways I like to show my affection is with gift giving, as I often buy her little gifts for no reason. I also do head scratches and nose bobs which seems to help to get around my issues. Oh, and I create a lot of weird but cute nicknames for my partner, I think over the time we’ve known each other I’ve created over 50 nicknames for my partner ha ha ha
This is a wonderful post! I’ve always been interested in love language and about a year ago when my fiancé and I sat down to discuss our preferred love languages it really changed things for our relationship, and the little things started to make sense. You’ve done an amazing job at outlining them and how to best utilize them as a tool for a healthy relationship. Thanks for this!