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If you haven’t heard about it, The 5 Love Languages is a great book by Gary Chapman. I was first introduced to the idea of love languages about five years ago when speaking with a therapist about some relationship struggles I was facing. As we talked, she suggested that I read The 5 Love Languages as a tool to understand my marital tension. The premise of the book is simple. Every person loves differently, and it’s helpful to know and speak your partner’s “love language” to increase communication and minimize misunderstanding.
Being able to translate your partner’s love language allows for a healthy relationship with respectful communication. After reading the book and taking the quiz, I realized that I was showing love in my own love language but neglecting to show my wife that I love her in the love language that creates the most impact for her. Knowing her love language has made all the difference in our relationship, and knowing my own has helped me navigate platonic and familial relationships as well. Because of the transformative nature, I cannot recommend The 5 Love Languages highly enough.
What Is A Love Language?
Love languages summarize the way we as human beings express and understand love. As with anything else, everyone approaches love and relationships (platonic and romantic) differently. Look at it like this: Let’s say I have a grocer who speaks Russian, while my native language is English. Each of us could be saying, “one loaf of bread” in our own language, but it’s hard for the other person to understand because their native language is different. But, if I acknowledge that my grocer speaks Russian, I might buy a phrasebook and learn how to say “one loaf of bread” in Russian. In doing this, there is a higher chance that my message will be properly received, and I will get what I need. The same applies to love languages. To truly, effectively show your love to your partner, it’s important to translate that love into your partner’s language so that they may better understand your message.
What Are The Five Love Languages?
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Gary Chapman breaks love down into five distinct categories or languages.
These languages are:
- Physical touch
- Quality time
- Receiving gifts
- Words of affirmation
- Acts of service
Each of these encompasses a distinct way of showing and receiving love. Some people fit mostly into one category, but many people have a love language that mixes two or more of these categories. For example, my love language is 50% words of affirmation, 30% quality time, and 20% physical touch. I’ll explain more in-depth about each one below, but if you’d like to take the five love languages quiz, click here.
Physical touch encompasses all physicality between people. This can be anything from a squeeze of the hand to a hug to something more intimate. Generally, people who have high percentages of physical touch in their love language will respond to a physical gesture of affection over other methods.
Quality time is a bit more abstract and varies from person to person. Generally speaking, those who respond to quality time value shared experiences over material goods or verbal signs of affection. These people will likely prefer an anniversary picnic or pottery class over a gift or note.
Some people see affection through the giving and receiving of gifts. However, this does not make them materialistic or vain. This simply means that their brains and hearts see affection through physical tokens of affection. After an argument, these people will likely appreciate receiving their favorite candy or a handpicked flower over a note of apology.
Words of Affirmation
This category encompasses the most traditional form of communication: talking. When you show people of this category affection, they may miss the more subtle signs of physical touch or gifts. What these people really need is to hear their partner’s feelings, either verbally or written down. A Valentine’s Day card would go farther with these folks than a box of chocolate or a date night.
Acts of Service
This category encompasses those who prefer to see affection through their partner’s actions. Rather than long conversations about feelings, those who prefer acts of service would rather see their spouse clean the house or make them dinner. On their birthday, these people would likely prefer to have their chores done for them than receive lavish gifts or wordy cards.
Why Is This Important?
My version of The 5 Love Languages book review is meaningless if you don’t understand why this is important. So often, we feel frustrated when we feel that our needs aren’t being met, especially in relationships. We may feel like our partner doesn’t love us, while in actuality, they are simply expressing their love in a way that does not resonate with us. After my therapy session, I realized that my wife was showing me she loved me through acts of service; she made sure there was nothing for me to do once I got home from work. But because my love language is primarily words of affirmation, I was not seeing or understanding her affection.
When we learn our partner’s love language, we can more easily spot their attempts at affection. When they learn ours, they can replace their current methods with ones that will more effectively get the message across. Once we discovered this disparity, we were able to come up with methods of showing our love that made us both feel seen and heard.
The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love That Lasts Summary
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Uncovering and understanding your partner’s love language is the key to building and maintaining a healthy relationship full of mutual respect and love. Doing work to better understand our partner is the ultimate labor of love and will ultimately benefit every part of your relationship. I’m proud to say that my experience with The 5 Love Languages has allowed me to become a better husband, and I can confidently show my wife my feelings in a way that makes sense to her.
I feel as if I know her better than ever. Through this process, I also know myself better and confidently navigate all relationships with a better understanding of how I respond to others. To begin your own journey with The 5 Love Languages, purchase your copy on Amazon or at an independent bookstore near you. At the end of the day, the best thing you can do for your relationship is try.