Think about your people for a moment. The people you walk through your days with. Those who breathe life into your weary soul. The lovely hearts who pledge their loyalty and love to you unconditionally. These are the ones who bring you joy daily.
What if there was a way to strengthen those relationships, to love even better?
Several years ago, I came across the idea of love languages. Originally introduced by Gary Chapman in his book The Five Love Languages, this concept has the ability to revolutionize your relationships.
What is a love language?
Basically, it’s how you express love and feel loved.
Think with me for a moment about a bank account. When you go to the bank, you either withdraw or deposit money, right? And when that account starts to get low, you probably get a little (or a lot) uneasy.
Well, what about your love bank? Think of your love bank as how loved you feel. People (or even you!) make deposits and withdrawals all day long. And this happens by way of your love language. If only withdrawals are made, you end up feeling empty and void and unloved.
The interesting thing about love languages is that you tend to express love in the same way you feel love, so while you think you’re showing love to your partner or friend, you may not be meeting his needs.
What are the 5 love languages?
Words of Affirmation
This way of loving is all about words. Speaking words of kindness, encouragement, affirmation- these things fill the love bank of the one who loves with words. Hearing “I love you” is meaningful, compliments (sincere ones) are life-giving, and encouragement is powerful. Being appreciated makes a big difference.
When you speak the love language of words, your love bank can be depleted rather easily. Negative comments, insults, criticism- these all cut deep and can be difficult to recover from.
If your love language is words of affirmation, seek people who are intentional with their words, being careful to speak the truth wrapped in love, understanding that words can make or break you.
The quality time love language demands one thing- undivided attention. Date nights, afternoons in coffee shops, sitting together on the sofa reading together- these all show love to the one who needs quality time.
I think this love language suffers the most in our current culture. We are so distracted and so busy that we rarely take the time to focus on the people we’re with. There is always a phone in hand or a postponed date because of busyness.
There is so much value in giving your complete attention to someone you love, and for the person who feels loved by that, it’s everything.
Those who have the love language of receiving gifts enjoy thoughtful and meaningful gifts. They like to be surprised with unexpected flowers or that book they’ve been eyeing at the bookstore.
Sometimes this language is misunderstood to mean that those who love gifts are materialistic. This isn’t true at all! They don’t desire more “stuff”; they desire to be shown love by the giving of special, made-for-them gifts. Handmade gifts, labors of love, are often a good way to love them; the gifts don’t have to be expensive.
Acts of Service
Receiving help with chores around the house or projects are ways to show love to the one whose love language is acts of service. Offering to do chores, get the oil changed on the car, or do the grocery shopping for the week are all ways to fill this person’s love bank.
When promises are broken, laziness is perceived, or more work is made for them, they feel devalued and unloved.
A person who needs physical touch to be loved is the one who craves hugs, pats on the back, a hand on the shoulder, or hand holding. Snuggling under a blanket after a long day makes this soul feel loved, safe, and content.
What is the sticking point here?
The first thing to know about love languages is that you love in the way you want to be loved; this can cause needs to go unmet. If your love language is acts of service and you cheerfully wash the dishes for your partner, you might be disappointed when he doesn’t run across the kitchen to embrace you with gratitude. You might be wondering, “Why doesn’t he appreciate the things I do for him? I’m sacrificing myself to show him love!” The problem here is that your partner feels loved when you spend quality time with him, not when you do things FOR him.
You might as well be speaking French to a Texan! You’re speaking two totally different languages!
How can love languages help your relationships?
Disagreements make more sense
Any time you can see things from someone else’s perspective, there is less conflict. “You never tell me how you feel about me!” can turn into “I know that you might not understand how much your words affect me, but I feel most loved when I hear you tell me how much I mean to you.”
“You never help around the house; you don’t really love me!” changes to “When you offer to help me with the chores, I feel loved, supported, and cared for.”
Think about how many arguments can be avoided with a little communication!
You’ll know your partner better
Let me say this from the start: you don’t have to understand it to work with it. We are all wired differently, and the way your partner feels loved might not make sense to you. But you are still perfectly capable of knowing how to love him and can carry that out.
Knowing your partner’s love language gives you insight into who he is and what makes him tick. This can only strengthen your relationship!
You will both be more fulfilled by your relationship
When your love bank is constantly being filled, you will be happier and more satisfied. This allows you to love more deeply and completely.
Communication will be better
Ask, “When do you feel most loved by me?” Talk about the things that fill and deplete your love banks. Think of ways to speak each other’s love languages.
If conflict arises, talk about how you could have shown love in a different way.
Related Post: Why Communication Matters
Curious about your love language? Take this quiz to find out!