Are you struggling in your relationship? The key to fully understanding your partner is knowing how they express and communicate love. Discovering your and your partner’s love language helps you to have a better understanding of each other’s needs and strengthen your relationship.
The 5 love languages can help you strengthen your connection.
Why love languages are important
When you and your partner speak the same love language, you can build a better relationship. Contrarily, if you speak different love languages you will experience a lack of emotional connection, unhealthy attachment patterns, and be confused about what you’re doing wrong.
Author, former monk, and motivational speaker Jay Shetty says “You think you’re giving everything to this person. You think you’ve gone above and beyond, but actually, they’re looking at you like you don’t love them.” This results in an emotional disconnection which can lead to the end of the relationship.
Granted it can take time to truly know your romantic partner. But once you learn about what makes them happy, how they behave and think, their likes and dislikes, you can form a bond that can last a lifetime.
“One of the most common relationship issues people face today is the struggle to express love in intentional and meaningful ways to someone else,” explains bullying prevention expert and author Sherri Gordon.
And this is exactly where the need for understanding 5 love languages comes in. She adds that “learning how your partner receives love will help you know the best way to demonstrate your love and caring.”
The 5 love languages
“Real love is figuring out how someone wants to be loved and loving them in that way,” says Shetty.
In his New York Times, a bestselling book, marriage counselor and author Dr. Gary Chapman explains the five love languages. These enable us to understand and express emotional love in a way that communicates best with our partners.
In a HuffPost interview, Chapman says “After many years of counseling couples in crisis and taking notes during each session… it became apparent to me that what makes one person feel loved isn’t always the same for their spouse or partner. I discovered every person understands and receives love in a specific language.”
The 5 love languages as explained by Chapman are:
- Words of Affirmation
- Quality Time
- Physical Touch
- Acts of Service
- Receiving Gifts
Now let us take a quick look at what each of these love languages means:
1. Words of affirmation
If this is your partner’s love language, then words mean everything to them. Words of affirmation require that you express love and affection through spoken words, appreciation, praise, encouragement, and even written notes like cute texts. Chapman adds “For people with this love language, they need to hear, ‘I love you’.”
2. Quality time
Giving your undivided attention to your partner is necessary for this love language. When you express your love and affection by being present, listening to them, and refraining from reacting, they feel loved. Chapman notes “Giving your partner your undivided attention is what matters most to them.”
3. Physical touch
Apart from getting physically intimate, people with this love language feel loved through physical touch like holding their hand, touching their shoulder, cuddling, or getting a massage.
They prefer being physically close to their partners. “Be intentional about finding ways to express your love using physical touch: giving hugs, touching their arm or hand during a conversation, offer to give a neck or back rub,” suggests Chapman.
4. Acts of service
This means your partner feels loved when you make the effort to do nice things to make them feel happy. It can be the smallest gestures like doing chores around the house or buying groceries. It is the little things that matter the most.
Chapman says “Anything you do to ease the burden of responsibility… will satisfy this type of partner.” This is one of the most crucial aspects of the 5 love languages.
5. Receiving gifts
Gift-giving has traditionally been a symbol of love and affection. If this is their love language, then receiving gifts will make them feel appreciated. It’s not about giving expensive gifts. It’s about the thought, time, and effort you put in to find the perfect gift for them. It shows that you really know them.
Chapman adds “The receiver of gifts thrives on the love, thoughtfulness, and effort behind the gift.”
How to understand your partner’s love language
“Learning to love in the way someone wants to be loved is far more the definition of love than just loving in any way,” says Jay Shetty.
Knowing your partner’s love language can not only help you create a lasting and more satisfying relationship but also express your own love effectively. Based on Chapman’s 5 love languages, Jay Shetty has outlined the following 6 helpful steps to enable you to find your partner’s love language:
Step 1: Understand your own love language
Before you can figure out your partner’s love language, you need to know your own language of love first. Which among the 5 love languages do you use to express love and affection? If you want to learn about how you express and want to receive love, then Chapman suggests asking yourself these questions:
- Which love language makes you feel the happiness of receiving?
- The lack of which love language is the most painful to you?
Step 2: Understand your partner’s love language
Once you know how you want to be loved, shift your focus towards your partner. One simple way to get started is to motivate your partner to ask themselves the two questions mentioned in Step 1. Once they know the answer to the questions, analyze how you can love them and express them effectively.
Shetty believes when we are unable to know what our individual love languages are in a relationship, we try to communicate love by default. However, it can often leave both partners unsatisfied.
In his book, Chapman explains the example of communicating with someone who doesn’t speak English. No matter how hard you try, as long as you keep speaking English, they just won’t understand.
Shetty says “That’s how it feels to not receive love in your love language. It’s confusing. It lacks clarity. It’s underwhelming. It’s uninspiring, quite frankly, and you don’t know how to engage with it. That’s why so many couples today are disengaged in their relationships. They’re being spoken to in the wrong language.”
Step 3: Understand your parents’ love language
The relationship we share with our parents and the attachment styles we develop with our primary caregivers in our childhood determines how we love and want to be loved as adults. How you were loved or weren’t loved by your parents will greatly influence what you expect in your romantic relationship and from your partner.
Shetty adds “So many of our love languages are based on how our parents loved us or didn’t love us. What our parents gave us either has become our priority or what they didn’t give us has become our priority.”
He believes that we are either trying to recreate the experience created by our parents or desperately trying to fill the emotional emptiness they left behind in us through our romantic partners. This is why it is crucial that we take a good look at ourselves and figure out how our parents influence our relationships and what we expect from our current partners.
Step 4: Make it meaningful
Understanding and analyzing the 5 love languages to navigate smoothly through your relationship is not enough. When you do it without purpose and meaning, without emotions, it becomes an exercise. It becomes a strategy to keep your relationship going.
But that’s not what you want, do you? A thoughtless kiss, fake words of affirmation, a cold hug will mean nothing when you lack a loving intention. Jay Shetty explains “When it becomes like that, where it becomes a technique, it loses the essence.”
It is only when we give meaning to our actions and behaviors to express our love, then it starts to make an impact.
Shetty adds “It’s really important that each and every one of us take this step to go deeper on each of these affirmations. It’s so easy to just try and practice them superficially, but even that will not create the bond that we all truly want in our relationships.”
Step 5: Love the right way
Do you communicate your love in a profoundly meaningful way? Do you love the way your partner wants to be loved? Or do you simply settle for good enough? Shetty asks us to love our partners the best we can and never settle for just okay.
It is possible that you have never been loved the right way, so you may be confused about your own love language. However, it is crucial that you put in the necessary effort to express love to your partner the right way. Even if you have past emotional scars, understanding the 5 love languages can help you heal.
Shetty says “If you want an okay, fine, average, neutral, mediocre relationship, then you can continue to do nothing.” But if you want a lasting and fulfilling relationship, then you need to identify their needs and love your partner in the best way you can.
Step 6: You can’t buy love
“Things don’t replace love languages. Gifts, money, showing off, random travel – none of this can be a substitute for deeply understanding the love language of your partner,” Shetty says.
This is why it is imperative that you make some effort to understand the 5 love languages instead of covering up your limitations and relationship problems with things or money. You cannot replace an authentic emotional connection with materialistic possessions. That’s not how you form a meaningful relationship.
If you don’t work hard to build a connection with your partner, then someone else will, irrespective of how much money you spend to buy their love. He warns “Often we can waste time, money, and energy thinking that we can patch things up because of this incredible lifestyle we live or incredible things that we do. It doesn’t work like that.”
The Power of 5 love languages
When you understand how each of you communicates love in the relationship, you can effectively and easily put it into practice. With the right intention and effort, you can start speaking your partner’s love language and they can speak yours.
Family therapist and divorce mediator Katerina Fager explains “It may take a few conversations to fully understand each other’s love languages, and it will take practice and patience to put those expressions of love into action, but the end result – feeling loved and secure in your relationship – is worth the effort.”
If both you and your partner are dedicated to building a deeper relationship and loving each other in a way that resonates with each of you, you will end up creating a happier and more fulfilling life. “Remember, healthy relationships aren’t born, they’re developed through attention and effort,” concludes author Sherri Gordon.
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