As we’ve seen in our first two posts, many couples develop marriage problems due to communication problems and wrong expectations. However, one could argue that these marriage problems are merely the natural consequences of another deeper issue namely “love language insensitivity.” It essentially means not knowing how your partner feels and experiences love naturally and most intensely. Love languages is a concept developed by a marriage counsellor, Gary Chapman, who wrote the best-selling book “The Five Love Languages” in 1992. This post unpacks each love language to help you combat existing marriage problems and connect with your spouse much deeper.
As already mentioned, after decades of marriage counselling, Gary Chapman identified 5 different love languages which fill our emotional love tanks.
Having a full tank is important to the health of your relationships and the way to fill it is by receiving love in a way that you understand.
It is essentially like learning to say, “I’m hungry” in Spanish, English and Chinese.
In each language, you’re saying the same thing, but the language you say it in is so different from your “mother-tongue” that you may not understand what’s being said.
Even though you do understand what “being hungry” is.
So it becomes an issue of “language” or “mode of communication” rather than comprehension.
The same with LOVE.
We all want to BE loved uniquely.
Our primary way of receiving love was either printed in our emotions when we were children or we were born with a primary way of receiving love.
In either case, it is the way we know and understand that we are being loved by someone else.
And because this is the case, we also tend to EXPRESS how we feel to other people in the language that is OUR primary language.
In other words, if we feel loved when we get gifts, we give gifts easily.
The problem is that our spouses don’t usually speak the same language.
This is not always true, of course.
In some cases, some couples are married to someone whose primary love language is the same as theirs.
But, most of the time that isn’t the case.
So, what does all of this mean for overcoming marriage problems?
If you want to create a happy, healthy, and intimate marriage, it’s vital to know how you enjoy being loved, but also how to properly love your spouse.
Because once you’ve figured out (learned) what your partner’s love language is you’ll be able to express to them how you feel in a way that is fulfilling to them.
But in order to know that, you need to understand the basics of the five different languages.
Let’s see if you can see yourself, your spouse (or your children) in these descriptions.
The 5 Love Language of Love
1. Words of Affirmation
Some people just like to hear gestures of love such as “I love you” and “I appreciate everything that you do.”
For this type of person, you’ll want to provide constant encouragement, never letting things go unsaid.
However, this is also more than just compliments or kind words.
Instead of just using affirming words, you can also show appreciation for who your loved one is or what they’ve done.
If your loved one’s language is words of affirmation, praise and appreciation will fill their love tank.
These are easy and simple to add to your relationship unless, of course, you find expressing yourself difficult.
And if that’s the case, you might want to ask yourself WHY that is.
Why is showing appreciation so difficult for you?
Regardless, however, as a spouse, it’s important that you make the effort to fill the emotional tank of your loved one so you don’t deplete your marriage and force it to run on empty.
2. Acts of Service
For some people, actions will always speak louder than words.
You can tell someone you love them as often as you want, but if ‘acts of service’ is their primary language of love, they won’t really understand or appreciate what you’re saying.
It might feel odd to say you love someone and but they don’t “understand,” but that’s how it is for some.
If ‘acts of service’ is your spouse’s love language, then it’s time to consider your role with chores, like clearing the dishes from the table, fixing the bed or vacuuming the floors.
Showing them that you love them through acts of service will get you much further than just using words with no actions.
A ten-minute activity once a day can fill your spouse’s tank.
Another love language is one where your partner may enjoy giving and receiving gifts.
This isn’t because they’re greedy; it means they’re visual people who enjoy seeing proof of your deepening relationship.
If this is your spouse’s primary language they’ll feel loved and appreciated when they get gifts on birthdays, anniversaries and just for no reason at all.
Expensive and elaborate gifts are not necessary – because it really is the thought that counts.
As long as they can see and hold it.
4. Quality Time
Time spent together is the fourth love language.
When you give the spouse whose love language is quality time and your undivided attention, you show them just how much you really love them.
Listening to your wife and watching the game or playing on your phone is NOT quality time.
Turn off the television, put down the smartphone and look into your spouse’s eyes.
By doing that you’ll score points you can’t get any other way.
Just your TIME and ATTENTION.
5. Physical Touch
Most women assume that the primary love language of men is physical touch and they assume that physical touch ultimately leads to sex.
But this is another type of touch.
For example, babies who aren’t touched don’t thrive, eight hugs a day is enough to help stave off depression, and couples who physically touch when going to bed at the same time each night enjoy deeper levels of connection (not talking about sex).
Whichever way you want to look at it, there is something powerful about physical touch.
So, if your spouse enjoys touch then holding hands, touching their shoulder or holding on their arm will communicate love more clearly than saying “I love you” verbally.
Chew on that for a minute.
Last Thoughts …
Chances are your partner will most likely speak a certain combination of these love languages.
Even though they might prioritise one more than the other.
Kind of like speaking multiple languages – one will always be your primary language.
But take the time to identify AND communicate love in the language that makes the most sense to your spouse.
This is not about you.
It’s about filling up their tank because once you do that, chances are they will reciprocate.
And if not, you can always have the conversation and you’d find them much more open with a full tank than when they’re running on empty.