Did you ever try to surprise someone with what you thought was a fabulous gift, only to get a lukewarm reception? The problem may not have been the gift; it may have been that you weren’t speaking the recipient’s “love language.”
According to Gary Chapman’s book The 5 Love Languages, each person has a primary language that makes them feel loved: acts of service, quality time, physical touch, receiving gifts, and words of affirmation.
For example, if your primary love language is acts of service, when your partner vacuums the floors, it can speak volumes toward making you feel appreciated! Giving your undivided attention – no cell phones, please – makes those whose language is quality time feel truly special and loved.
For those whose primary language is physical touch, hugs, holding hands and physical presence are crucial to them.
The language of receiving gifts may seem materialistic, but for these people, gifts – no matter how small – represent love and are truly treasured.
Finally, if words of affirmation are your primary language, unsolicited compliments and hearing the words “I love you” are very important to you.
So how does this work in a relationship? Let’s say my primary love language is acts of service, but my spouse’s is receiving gifts. Since most people tend to show love in the way they want to be loved, my partner could spend hours finding the “perfect” gift to be met with that lackluster response mentioned above.
At the same time, if I’m washing the car or shoveling snow, these acts of service most likely go unnoticed. While both of us are trying to show our love, because we aren’t speaking the other’s language, each of us gets frustrated while our partner isn’t feeling loved the way they should.
Chapman provides a brief quiz at http://www.5lovelanguages.com/ to help you discover your primary love language. The highest score is your primary love language – and it’s not unusual to have two high scores – while the lower scores are languages you don’t typically use to communicate love.
Once you know how you prefer to be loved, it’s important to share that knowledge with your partner and to learn what makes them feel loved. Our relationships with those we love are the most important part of our lives, so a small investment can pay huge dividends – and not just on Valentine’s Day!