At Lightwell, we regularly meet with clients who are struggling in their romantic relationships. The reasons why couples attend therapy vary widely, but all of our clients are seeking the same thing – to feel loved and seen by their partners.
Often, even though partners have the best of intentions, both sides feel taken for granted, and as though their most intimate needs have been neglected. Over time, resentment and frustration can build, and hope that things will improve may decline. Of course, relationship problems are generally multi-dimensional; nonetheless, a contributing factor is frequently that couples are not speaking the same “love language.”
So – what exactly is a love language? Dr. Gary Chapman, an esteemed couples counsellor, has identified five primary love languages, which include words of affirmation, quality time, physical touch, acts of service, and receiving gifts. The key, according to Dr. Chapman, is to discover which love language you and your partner respond to most, and then to put that knowledge into practice. Here is an overview of each language:
Words of Affirmation
These are verbal expressions of appreciation and care. People who describe “words of affirmation” as their love language tend to enjoy inspirational quotes, uplifting text messages, and compliments. Their partner’s positive words energize them, while negative words leave them feeling deflated.
“Quality time” is characterized by undivided attention and active listening. Individuals who endorse “quality time” as their love language want their partners to be totally present when they are together. Make sure you put down your phone and make eye contact if this is your partner’s love language.
This love language is all about touching. Aside from sexual intimacy, this language includes cuddling, holding hands, and giving massages. Individuals who endorse this language feel closest to their partner, emotionally, when they have connected on a physical level.
Acts of Service
“Acts of service” involves helping your partner, and doing nice things for them so they know you are thinking of them. Examples of this love language could look like gassing up their car, making them dinner, or running them a bubble bath. A clue that this is your partner’s love language is that they regularly perform acts of service for you.
When this is a person’s love language, gift giving represents consideration and kindness. These individuals appreciate that their partner was not only thinking of them, but also took time out of their busy schedule to buy them a token of love. It is important to note that it is not about the size or price of the gift; it truly is the thought that counts. If “receiving gifts” is your partner’s love language, make sure you do not forget to get them something for special occasions, such as birthdays and anniversaries.
Make it a priority to learn about your partner’s love language, and to share yours with them. In that way, you will each be better equipped to address one another’s emotional needs, and your bond will increase.