The 5 Love Languages: Which One is Yours?
Being a marriage and family therapist for over 15 years, I have assisted many couples to improve their marriage or relationship and at times I also helped them find closure and go separate ways. Unfortunately, many times, marriage counseling is a last resort after years of resentment and conflicts.
I primarily use the Imago approach to counseling, as postulated by Harville Hendrix, as I strongly believe that many relationship issues stem back from family-of-origin issues. According to this theory, we attract partners who remind us of our caregivers in order to heal childhood wounds.
In addition, what I also find helpful is to understand our love language, as well as our partner’s. Gary Chapman’s 5 Love Languages is a classic and has been a New York Times Bestseller several years. Understanding one’s love language can bring forth better communication and feeling loved.
In this article, I am discussing 5 love languages and if you are curious what your love language is, I suggest getting a copy of the book and finding out what it is, as well as your partner’s. I can assure you if you consistently pay attention to it and follow action steps, you will see improvement in your relationship or marriage. In most cases, you will find one or two that you gravitate towards more.
Here are the 5 love languages:
Words of Affirmation:
Using compliments, words of encouragement, praise, and kind words. It’s also important to add that it’s also important HOW we say things, not just what we say. One of the couples I currently work with the husband was the one who felt that his wife was controlling and critical and after she had started paying more attention to the words, their relationship started to improve.
Giving somebody undivided attention, preferably free from media this includes your cell phone and TV. When is the last time you had a great conversation without an interruption? This can be especially challenging for young parents. That’s why it’s so important to still nurture your relationship and only discuss chores and obligation. Have fun together and plan your ideal date. Some suggestion: hiking, lunch meeting, dancing, playing sports, or a picnic. Active listening is key and I teach couples using “Imago Dialogue.”
Everyone likes to receive gifts, but for this person receiving a gift also means that he or she enjoys gifts as a way of feeling loved. A person feels good that the partner remembered him or her “just because,” and not just on a holiday or a birthday. Visual symbols of love are more important to some people. When buying a gift, think about what the person would really enjoy as opposed to expensive, generic gift.
Acts of Service:
This refers to doing things you know your spouse would like you to do and maybe you have been procrastinating about for a while which causes aggravation on both sides. Examples include cooking a meal, vacuuming, taking the trash out, repairs, paying the bills and walking the dog. In our modern society, most couples have to rely on both parents working so gender roles really don’t play a big role here, and they shouldn’t. Instead, I recommend to my couples to do chores based on their strengths and availability.
Expressing love and affection, this doesn’t only relate to sexual intimacy. Many couples I worked with complained about lack of sex, and in most cases, the first thing that needed to be improved is communication and learning about non-sexual touch, where there is no pressure. Even research shows that babies who are held, touched, and kissed develop healthier emotional lives. That’s why physical abuse can be so damaging. It can take years to learn to trust again.
Have fun discovering each of your love languages! I can promise you it will make a difference in your relationship.