So you’re finally in a great relationship and have met a wonderful partner. What can you do now to build a strong and healthy relationship? A sure-fire step to upgrading your relationship is stepping up your communication game – and understanding the 5 love languages is relationship communication 101.
The 5 love languages phenomenon started when renowned marriage therapist Gary Chapman published The Five Love Languages: How to Express Heartfelt Commitment to Your Mate, in which he outlined the five fundamental ways to express and experience love. In his theory he explains that people most often express love in the way they prefer to receive it. And not understanding your partner’s love language results in your love being lost in translation.
He realised hearing over and over again from couples who loved each other but kept saying they don’t feel loved by their partner that a disconnect was taking place. A classic case of crossed wires! He went on to develop the 5 Love Languages as a means to understand how and what you can do to love your partner better. It is a powerful tool to upgrade any relationship and re-ignite the spark.
To get you started we break down the 5 basic love languages and a useful tip to apply it in your relationship.
The 5 Love Languages:
According to Chapman, this love language uses words to affirm other people. This goes beyond only saying ‘I love you’. What really makes you feel loved and appreciated is verbal recognition and validation of your efforts and individual features.
Tip: Tell your partner everyday a specific feature you love – compliment them or verbalize a tangible quality you appreciate. Tell them in a conversation or write it in a message.
Does tangible action make you feel all warm and fussy inside? As Chapman explains, for you actions speak louder than words. You feel loved by big or small concrete actions that demonstrate love in a material way. Examples can include your partner doing a chore, making you a meal or completing a day-to-day task for you, like doing the grocery shopping, or spoiling you with a treat.
Tip: Regularly pay attention to chores and tasks that take up your partner’s time and find a way to do one of them. Or perhaps surprise your loved one with breakfast in bed. It doesn’t need to be difficult – even just making the effort to run a bath for your partner is an easy, cheap and effective way for them to feel loved.
The way you feel most loved and valued is when your partner gives you a gift. For your partner to go out of the way and get you a gift really lights your fire. The meaningful aspect is not the gift itself but rather the effort it took to think about the right gift and then go and get it. It is not about the size or expense of the gift, but the love that is expressed in the thought and time put into buying it.
Tip: Don’t feel daunted by the idea that your partner feels loved with gifts. Rather take the opportunity to spoil them regularly with small, thoughtful gifts. Stick a love note on a candy bar, pick some flowers from the garden, and of course, every now and then don’t resist the urge to splurge!
Quality time is sitting down and giving someone your undivided attention. It means ignoring the ongoing distractions of busy modern life and devoting yourself to paying focused attention to your loved one. Quality time shouldn’t feel rushed and is about connecting on a deep level.
Tip: Take time each week to focus solely on your partner. Put your phones on silent, turn off the TV, and listen exclusively to the highlights and lowlights of each other’s week.
To you physical touch is the ultimate way of experiencing love. It is important to note that the touch needs to be appropriate, and it doesn’t have to be sexual. Simply if you have this love language, you experience connection and closeness by demonstrating and receiving a physical manifestation of love.
Tip: When you’re walking around, hold your partner’s hand. If you’re sitting on the sofa, reach out and put your hand on their leg. Make an effort to keep in physical contact as regularly as possible.
Using these tools to open channels of communication and investing the time in understanding each other’s love language is a guaranteed way to support and strengthen your relationship. First get to know your own love languages and then those of your partner. You can do the Love Language Quiz on Chapman’s website – or sit down with your partner and ask each other about your favourite ways to feel loved!