People come in all shapes and sizes. We are all different and the way we feel and show love is different. You may have heard of the love languages or maybe you haven't, but identifying yours and your spouses' can be a helpful tool.
I have grown up hearing about them because they are mostly talked about in church. Gary Chapman wrote a really great book describing each in detail. He travels around teaching the 5 Love Languages. You can click here to the take the test. If you think you know yours, I still encourage you to take the test because it's important to know where you fall with the other languages, too! Have your spouse complete the quiz as well.
Let's dive right in. Below are the Love Languages with my interpretation of how they are each described.
- Physical Touch - hug, kiss, touch of the arm, even snuggling on the sofa
- Words of Affirmation - positive complements and statements, verbal encouragement
- Quality Time - being together and choosing to be fully present and intentionally engaged
- Receiving Gifts - a thoughtful gift that makes you feel appreciated
- Acts of Service - doing you a favor or a chore (especially when not asked to)
It is so important to choose to express love in a way that your spouse feels it best. All the languages are important and do show love. For example, I want my husband to snuggle on the sofa with me and intentionally engage in conversation with me even though my love language is Acts of Service. Ken and I took a marriage class at our church on this exact topic and something I took away from it that I think about regularly is the way in which you feel love most, is also the way in which you are most hurt. You tend to show love to another person the way you feel loved. As mentioned above, my love language is Acts of Service. It makes me especially happy and pleased when I come home and Ken has vacuumed and done the dishes (I try to always thank him by using Words of Affirmation on the side ;) ). I tend to "do, do do" for others because it is my way of caring for them and comes most natural. Because Ken's is Physical Touch and absolutely loves his back scratched, I try to do so when he asks AND voluntarily, which is often, but I know that he feels more rejected when I don't touch him. I want him to feel loved and treasured by me so I choose to love the way he feels it best.
If your spouse is Quality Time, than it is important to set aside time dedicated to just them. Plan a date where you leave your phones in the car, walk downtown, and get ice cream. When you are at home, make sure to really talk about your day and set aside at least a couple minutes that you dedicate to one another that doesn't include distractions.
Receiving Gifts does not mean you have to spend all your life savings to keep your spouse happy. An example would be, if you noticed them eyeing a new coffee mug or shirt and you go back and get it for them. Be mindful of approaching holidays or their birthday, as a gift would be particularly important to them on those days!
Finally, if your spouse is one whom feels deeply loved by Words of Affirmation, than make a point to encourage them regularly with words and be careful not to use sharp words when disagreeing. Words can affect anyone, but those whose love language is words is especially pursued or hurt by what you say.
I found it so interesting that you can and should also apply these to your children. The Love Languages can be developed as young as toddler aged! Pay attention to ways in which they seek your love most often. Notice if your child asks for you to go to another room with them to look at a picture they drew or play with their favorite toy, this is quality time. Do they jump on you and want to be held? This is likely physical touch. They all apply the same, just in smaller, less mature forms.
Love Languages can truly apply to all relationships including friendships, just not quite in the same way as a spouse or significant other. I challenge you to learn your own and those close to you. It can totally change the dynamic of your relationship and help you to better love others! Marriage is hard, but it is also sweet. Why wouldn't you want to make it sweeter?
All pictures above were taken by Jana Candler Photography. You can click her name to see her work. She was amazing to work with!