In honor of Valentine’s Day (last week), I’m dedicating this post to the 5 Love Languages. I’ve shared that I have been trained in EFT, and this is the approach I am grounded in when working with couples. However, I like the 5 Love Languages. I think it has good information with accessible language, that can really help shift perspective and increase understanding in a relationship. I’ve noticed the 5 Love Languages being shared and discussed in lots of non-clinical settings, but just in case it is new to you, I’ll start off by going over the five types.
The 5 Love Languages is a book written by Gary Chapman; in it, he shares his theory of the five ways that he believes love is expressed and experienced. You can read the book for more information, and can take a short online quiz to help identify your primary and secondary love language.
1. Words of Affirmation: These could be compliments, words of appreciation, and simple affirmation. “I really appreciate that you washed the dishes”; “You look beautiful”; “I notice how hard you are working at being patient”.
2. Acts of Service: Examples of this might be filling up your partner’s car with gas, vacuuming, washing the dishes, cooking a meal, mowing the lawn. This love language is all about action, not so much words.
3. Receiving Gifts: This is pretty straight forward, and refers to a tangible gift. Most times, it is the symbol of the gift (i.e., someone was thinking of you and made a conscious effort to get you something), and not the cost of the gift, that matters.
4. Quality Time: This might be going out for a date night, talking about your day together, taking a walk. During this time, the focus is on one another.
5. Physical Touch: Holding hands, kissing, hugging, and sex can all be powerful communicators of love. Make sure that this is consensual and appropriate for your relationship.
1. Share your Language
Your partner is not a mind reader. It is very common for individuals to assume that the way they prefer to experience love is the way that their partner prefers to experience love. If your partner really values words of affirmation, he/she will likely use words of affirmation to express love towards you. If this is not a powerful way that you experience love, share with your partner what it is that does make you feel loved!
2. Learn your Partner’s Language
Just as you appreciate when your partner communicates love to you in a way that you value, your partner will appreciate your interest in his/her love language. Remember, this might be different than yours! You can inquire directly, and can also observe your partner- watch for their reaction to the different languages, or observe the way in which they communicate love (how a person communicates love is often how they prefer to receive love).
3. Recognize Love
Once you and your partner have identified and shared your love languages, it can be really easy to think “Well he/she knows that I value quality time; if he/she really cared about me, he/she would do this all the time.” While it is wonderful to see your partner making an effort to speak your love language, they will likely continue to speak their own most often. Try to avoid dismissing expressions of love just because they aren’t “your language”. If your partner has always been action and service oriented, , it might be easy to take this for granted and dismiss this “normal” behavior rather than recognizing it as an expression of their care and love for you.
Quick end note, the theory of love languages has also been applied to the parent/child relationship- just like adults, not all children express and receive love in the same way!
To learn more or to book an appointment, contact me via telephone or email.
Brenna Burke, LMFT is a licensed marriage and family therapist in private practice in Valencia, CA. She provides individual psychotherapy and couples counseling. Information provided through this website is for informational purposes only. It does not create a therapist-client relationship and does not replace clinical assessment or professional consultation.