Did you know that vacuuming the entire living room is more effective than saying “I love you?” It might not be for you, but for someone who’s love language is “acts of service,” vacuuming is much more meaningful than saying those three words. If you’re confused, it’s time to learn about the 5 love languages. Here are the 5 love languages explained in plain English so that you can break up proof your relationship!
THE 5 LOVE LANGUAGES EXPLAINED: THE SECRET TO LOVING LONG-TERM RELATIONSHIPS
The 5 love languages come to us from Dr. Gary Chapman, who wrote a book that would forever change the nature of relationships. I was lucky enough to have the 5 love languages explained to me by an actual marriage counselor and I was able to learn so much from her! I will share with you guys what she taught me below.
The 5 love languages help us understand our partner. They help us see that we all have different ways of communicating love.
Here are the 5 love languages explained one by one and then we will go into some further detail.
#1 – WORDS OF AFFIRMATION
Words of affirmation are positive or encouaraging things that we say to our partner. Things like “you always make me laugh” or “you’re looking really good today”. Those comments make our partner feel good and if words of affirmation is their favourite love language, they are going to feel very loved.
Words of affirmation also includes words of appreciation. So letting the other person know that you appreciate them and all they do for the relationship and the family.
#2 – ACTS OF SERVICE
Acts of service is when you do something for your partner to show them you love them. This incldues things like:
- Cleaning the house
- Offering to give him a ride home after a party
- Getting an oil change on the car
The key to this love language is that it is done with a positive spirit. So it’s not like “Ok fine, I’ll clean the house for you.” It’s doing the thing with a positive and loving attitude.
When I had the love languages explained to me the first time, I thought this one simply meant doing stuff for the other person. Although that is a big part of it, it’s much more nuanced than that.
For example, if you come home and notice that your partner has done all the laundry and folded nicely and put it all away, he isn’t saying “I wanted the laundry done.”
He is saying “You usually do the laundry and I wanted to help you today” and “I want to make your life easier because I love you.”
This means that you would definitely never want to say “Thanks for doing the laundry but you folded the shirts all wrong.” or “All my sweaters are in the wrong drawer.”
If you say things like that, you are purposefully attacking his love language and this can be very hurtful.
#3 – QUALITY TIME
Quality time is when you spend time with your partner without distractions. So watching a TV show with your partner is not quality time. Quality time is when you and your partner are interacting and enjoying each other’s company. This could be things like”
- Pillow talk before bed
- Going for a walk
- Sitting and talking at the park
The key to this love language is understanding that if your partner wants quality time, it means they want your undivided attention. So playing video games, or cooking together are kind of like “half quality time.” A healthy relationship should have a combination of half quality time and full quality time.
#4 – GIVING GIFTS
When people want the 5 love languages explained, it is often because they want to understand the meaning behind certain actions. For example, we all know what gift giving is, but what does it mean when we buy a gift for our partner?
A gift is a symbol of thought.
It shows the other person that in that moment, you were thinking of them. So if you go to the grocery store and bring home his favourite chocolate, this is you communicating your love through gift giving. Other gift giving examples include:
- Picking up a cool shell on the beach and giving it to him
- Bringing him some mini donuts when you’re at the fair
- Picking him up some new socks because you know his have holes
If your partner is a gift giver, always remember that the actual gift is completely meaningless. If he gets you a new can opener because he thought this one might make things easier for you, he is not saying:
“I think you need a can opener.”
He is saying:
“I was thinking of you when I was at the mall.”
“I wanted to make cooking easier for you because I know you’re the one that takes on that chore.”
Now that you understand what he was doing from his perspective, you would never want to reply to this gift with:
“The can opener we have is perfectly fine.”
That is a huge slap to the face when he was trying to show you how much he cares about you. This is why it is so important to not have the love languages explained in more detail and understand that these go much deeper than what we see on the surface.
#5 – PHYSICAL TOUCH
The important thing to note about physical touch is that it doesn’t mean sex. It means all the other forms of physical touch that we have with our partner. So if you are watching TV, that would not be quality time but if you are cuddling on the couch and watching TV, that is the physical touch love language happening.
Other examples of physical touch are:
- Holding hands
- A Goodbye Kiss
- A hand on his leg during a dinner party
- A hug from behind when he’s on his computer
Having the love 5 languages explained to me by a therapist allowed me to understand this basic thing. It’s never about the act itself and always about the meaning behind the act.
This is why ignoring your partner’s love language can be especially hurtful.
For example, let’s say your partner’s love language is gift giving.
If he asks to hold your hand while you’re walking on the street, it won’t matter to him if you say “no my hands are sweaty.”
But if your partner’s love language is physical touch, saying no to his request to hold hands is going to be like daggers going straight to his heart.
It’s important to keep your partner’s love language in mind so that you know when he’s asking you to take part in it and start speaking that language.
FINDING OUT YOUR LOVE LANGUAGE
The first step in using the love languages effectively is to find out which one is your favourite. Whenever I explain the love languages to people, I often hear “well, I like all those things!”
And that is true, most humans will enjoy all of those things but every one of us has a favourite one or two. An easy way to start narrowing this down is by choosing which one of these things you would be fine with receiving only once a month.
I know that if my boyfriend never got me a gift of any kind for a month (or more) I would be ok with it. But if he didn’t want to touch me for a whole month, that would be awful!
So use that technique to take away one or two of the love languages. Then just think about what acts of love you prefer. So, would you rather your boyfriend clean the house or go for a walk with you? Would you rather him cuddle with you on the couch or give you some flowers?
Once you nail down your love language, you will be better at communicating what you need more of in the relationship. You’ll also be better at prioritizing how you spend your time with your partner.
This is an amazing tool to use in a long-term relationship because often things get “boring” or routine and you can start feeling a disconnect. Knowing your love language will allow you to ask for the thing you need most so that you feel connected. If your love language is quality time, you can do this by asking to go for a walk.
If your love language is physical touch, you can give your partner a hug and he will return the gesture. You can also ask for your love language to be spoken by simply saying “hey can we cuddle up on the couch and watch a movie?”
This is goingt to allow you to have a healthy relationship even when you’ve been together for years and years. All because you know how to ask for your love language to be spoken!
UNDERSTANDING YOUR PARTNER’S LOVE LANGUAGE
Discuss with your partner what his perferred love language is or make him take a quiz. When you know his love language, you can use this knowledge for two things:
- Knowing how to make him feel loved.
- Knowing when he’s trying to show you love.
Let’s use an example.
Let’s say your love language is quality time but his love language is acts of service. If you want to make him feel loved, then you’re better off cleaning the house for him or taking the car in to get an oil change than buying him a new watch.
If you plan a nice romantic picnic (because your love language is quality time), that is going to be something that you enjoy more than he will so that wouldn’t be the best way to communicate love to him. Pay attention to his love language so that you can show him you love him in the way he likes it best.
You can also use his love language as a way to know when he’s trying to show you love. So if he comes home and does the dishes even though it was your turn that night, that is him saying “I love you.” This means that you can know when he’s communicating his love for you, even if it’s not in your most preferred love languge.
DIFFERENT LOVE LANGUAGES AND DISCONNECTION
When two people have the same love language, it can be easier for them to show and receive love. But this doesn’t mean you have to have the same one in order to have a successful relationship.
In his book, Gary Chapman discusses a wife and a husband. The husband mentions that his wife never does anything for him. He feels disconnected from her because he is always doing nice things for her but she never returns the favour.
The wife in the situation thinks that the husband doesn’t love her because he never wants to spend anytime with her. He’s always busy doing stuff and never has time to just sit down and talk.
You can see here that the wife’s love language is quality time and the husband’s language is acts of service. This couple could be on the path to divorce just because their love languages aren’t lining up!
If you don’t have the same love language as your partner, you can still make things work but it’s going to take a little more effort. Make sure you communicate love in your language and in his.
I hope that the 5 love languages explained in this article can be incorporated into your romantic relationships. Using these love languages and understanding them fully is a great way to break up proof your long-term relationship or marriage!