The Languages of Love
How do you like to give and receive love?
We all have different ways of communicating our appreciation within our personal relationships, but when we aren't demonstrating love to our partners in a way that they recognise and value we can encounter frustration, misunderstandings and friction.
In 1992 Dr Gary Chapman wrote his best-selling book 'The Five Languages of Love' which provides some interesting insights and theories based on the author's extensive career in marriage and relationship counselling. He describes five styles or 'love languages' which are typically used when expressing love. Although we may appreciate characteristics from each style, there is often one that we identify most with. Chapman states that "people tend to criticise their spouse most loudly in the area where they themselves have the deepest need."
So what are the five languages?
Words of Affirmation
You appreciate hearing your partner express their appreciation out loud. The words "I love you" hold deep meaning for you, as do written notes or love letters affirming your partner's feelings. This is said to be the most common of the love languages.
You appreciate it when your partner gives you their undivided attention for a while so that you can spend quality time together. Switching off phones and TV, planning date nights or trips away helps you to feel valued.
Acts of Service
You feel most connected when your partner demonstrates their love by helping you out with tasks, assists you to solve a problem or takes stress off your plate. Actions speak louder than any words for people with this love language.
Hugs, kisses, holding hands and physical closeness shows you that your partner cares. Public displays of affection are most likely no problem for you, so long as you can feel an emotional connection through physical touch.
You feel valued when your partner expresses their love through unexpected gifts and tokens of affection. Far from being shallow and materialistic, this allows you to know that your partner is thinking about you and prizes you above all else.
So how can you use this knowledge to enhance communication and deepen connection in your relationship? And how can you figure out what's important to your partner?
The answer is simple - just ask! If you communicate love to them in the language that's important to you, recognise that it may not be the language that's important to them. Your efforts could land way off target! So ask your partner what matters to them, and be prepared to adapt to a style that they will recognise and appreciate. Then you can both enjoy the benefits of giving and receiving love in the most appropriate way for each of you.
This article first appeared in the New Stour & Avon magazine on 11 February 2022