By Theresa Harding (updated 2/14/20)
In my own personal experience of marriage, I did not always approach difficult situations with understanding and love. I was young with less understanding at times.
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If I’d known about these 5 love languages from day one of our relationships, I would’ve saved us from many challenges in our marriage! I never knew there was a better way to nurture relationships. I first learned about the love languages some years ago from a Christian radio show I was listening to.
It was appalling to learn about the 5 Love Languages! It’s always nice to learn new and better ways to improve relationships, which can make them healthy for life.
Before we go further, let’s first define love language.
The love languages are 5 ways to express love emotionally. We are all different and in a marriage, we have different needs of which we must learn the language of our partner so that we may speak their language if we want to make them feel loved.
What I desire and need from my partner is different from what my partner desires and needs from me. It’s so important to understand this from the beginning if we want our relationship to be long-lasting and fulfilling.
A lot has been said about love and how to improve a relationship. Songs have been sung, emotional poems have been drafted. Yet this intriguing emotion remains as complex as it gets.
When Gary Chapman wrote about “the 5 Love Languages“, I am not sure he comprehended the kind of help and understanding he brought into relationships. This is because misunderstanding brought about by the inability to understand your partner’s language of love can cripple a healthy relationship as soon as the “sparks” die out. So, how can you apply the love languages to improve and make your relationship solid? Let’s identify all 5.
First on the list of love languages is “Words of affirmation”. Affirmations, verbal compliments, and encouragement are valued by the people who embody this love language. Statements such as “I love you”, “I adore you”, “You are handsome” accompanied by body language and facial expressions that denote the same, will have them smiling ear to ear, fully reassured of your love.
Assuring your partner every so often can be magical, particularly during the turbulent times of the relationship. People love to feel appreciated for their hard work and effort. Not recognizing their effort with kind words of appreciation can make them feel less valued and unappreciated.
If this is what your spouse complains the most about-your lack of showing gratitude or appreciation for his or her hard work, you can change that by showing your appreciation in affirmations. Even saying kinds words like, “I’m so thankful for your help, I don’t think I’d have finished if it wasn’t for you.” Those words can really make your partner feel on top of the world if words of affirmation are their love language.
Feeding your partner what he/she desires is the ultimate key that’ll take your relationship to another level. In the early years of our marriage, my husband always said things to affirm his hard work and I thought he was gloating, so I never spoke words of affirmation to him.
What he was doing was trying to train me to speak those encouraging words of affirmation to him, but I took his efforts the wrong way. I learned later learned that that was his love language. My thought process changed about it and started complimenting him when I felt he needed those kind words of affirmation.
These kind words will affirm to your spouse that you care and you appreciate their efforts.
How many of you desire quality time from your spouse? I don’t mean just having him or her in the house somewhere. I mean, right in front of you, engaging in conversation, face-to-face. This is the love language of “Quality Time“
Quality time involves spending one-on-one time with your partner. This time should be devoid of interruptions like looking down at your cell phone while your partner is engaging in a conversation with you, especially during dinner time. We want our partner to always feel significant, so not giving them our undivided attention can make them feel less significant.
Instead, look in their eyes, show body language by nodding your head to let them see you are attentive to their conversation and you’re engaged. This will also prevent any later misunderstanding should the same conversation come up later and you forgot the discussion because you weren’t really engaged in the first place!
Doing things together or simply engaging in deep conversation or silly jokes will have people who value quality time beaming with satisfaction. Actions that will make a healthy relationship.
By taking the time to give your undivided attention out of the ordinary, your partner will really appreciate it if their love language is “quality time”.
The love language of “Acts of Service” gives a person the satisfaction of feeling loved when you perform an action that speaks their language. An example would be helping your spouse with the house chores or helping cook dinner for the family.
When they feel you are helping them with acts of service, they feel loved and their love tank begins to fill up. You are the type of person whose love language is acts of service if you feel a deeper kind of appreciation and connection when your partner runs errands for you or does a chore that leaves you with a lighter load of work.
I always enjoyed having my husband assist me in the kitchen on the weekends when I prepared dinner. It filled my love tank every time he could assist me in this task. His act of service to me showed me that he was expressing his love in a way that I desired more than just telling me he loved me.
If your spouse complains to you always because you don’t assist with different tasks, then their love language is probably Acts of Service. Your job is then to fulfill that need and perform those acts of service that will make them feel you’re expressing your love in a way that they desire.
Other people value touch. These people understand love in terms of “Physical touch”. Cuddling, kissing, hugging, a caring touch on the arm or shoulder and sexual intercourse touch their souls. Without these, these individuals will not feel loved adequately.
Offering to help out around the house is a fantastic way to perform an act of service to your partner.
When was the last time you received or gave a gift to your spouse and it made you feel loved? If you desire to receive gifts and it makes you feel loved, then your love language is receiving gifts or giving gifts.
The gifts don’t necessarily have to be expensive, lavish gifts, just small gifts such as a love note placed on your spouse’s pillow, or a chocolate candy bar will suffice.
Just make sure you give more appropriate gifts for really special occasions like a birthday or Christmas. A thoughtful gift will warm the hearts of those who exemplify this love language. In addition to receiving, they also love to give gifts.
What matters is the thought behind the gift. So a cute note will go a long way, and rest assured, will make a healthy relationship.
You random gift-giving fills your partner’s love tank if receiving gifts is their love language.
Physical Touch is the first of the five senses to develop in the womb. A quote by Margaret Atwood says, “Touch comes before sight, before speech. It is the first language, and the last, and it always tells the truth.” Touch is naturally engraved in our DNA. We simply don’t need to be taught this much-needed practice. It just comes naturally for us.
Unfortunately, in today’s electronic world, the art of touch is diminishing in many relationships. Touch is important in both plutonic and romantic relationships. As written by Berkely Science Review, “A growing number of studies on touch and emotion reveal our deep-seated need for human contact and warmth. Touch may be the key to communicating prosocial emotions, and for promoting group cohesion and survival.”
Not only does touch foster cooperation within groups, but it also has an effect and is necessary for the right physical and psychological development for infant mammals. From birth, regular, nurturing touch has been shown to have growth-promoting effects in infants.
Pups that are separated from their mothers for extended lengths of time have shown stunted growth in comparison to rats who aren’t separated from their mothers even though their diet is the same.
Studies have shown that babies who are held and touched in a positive way more often also demonstrate lifelong resilience to stress and improved cognition. So as you can see, touch is universal, in that all mammals and living creatures need touch beginning in the womb. If physical touch is your partner’s love language, find the time to add this to your daily interactions to fill his/her love tank.
After you have identified your love language, you can boost your understanding and love of your partner. It can be a little bit difficult if you value physical touch, to understand why someone would need acts of service to feel loved. This calls for understanding and to appreciate that every human is different. Therefore do not be afraid to ask what your partner values.
The physical touch love language is endless! Just be creative and fill your partner’s love tank with this one.
The next course of action is to use your partner’s love language to improve your relationship with better understanding and love. If they value quality time, be sure to create time, go out and do fun things together.
This will create a bond not easily broken, as well as create a healthy relationship. Gift him/her often and watch him/her glow with appreciation and love. Be mindful of your partner’s love language and you will receive the same in return.
To summarize, it is important to learn how to improve a relationship if you want positive experiences with your friends and loved ones. Identify your love language and that of your partner, understand his/her love language and “do” their love language then sit back and watch your relationship soar higher in understanding and love every day.
My experience in applying these 5 love languages has helped me understand my husband and improve our understanding of each other better. This has helped us avoid complaining to each other (something we did in the past), about what we’re not getting or giving in the relationship. After all, love is an action, not just an expression. I invite you to give them a try if you want to create a healthy relationship lifelong!
Have you used the 5 love languages in your relationship, and has it improved?
Resources and References
Healthy Living isn't difficult. It requires an ongoing lifestyle change with patience and an open mind. I teach this mindset all the time. After 11 years of transitioning from an unhealthy lifestyle to a pain-free one, I think it's important to share my knowledge and research with those who are ready to make that shift in their health and wellness.