The Love Languages in Relationships
In working with clients around relationship issues with their love one, I find that one of the most common problem is how each person is interpreting, or misinterpreting, love. When we misinterpret our partner’s language of love it is like mistranslating a phrase in another language and it can take on a whole different meaning.
What do I mean by languages of love? Author Gary Chapman developed the five languages of love and has a book and website that discusses these languages much more in depth. However, for the sake of this blog post, I want to briefly introduce the concept and show how it can a big difference in communication with your loved one.
The five languages of love are as follows:
- Words of Affirmation
- Acts of Service
- Receiving Gifts
- Quality Time
- Physical Touch
If you take the test on the website, you can discover which language of love resonates most with you. It’s then important to find out which language resonates most with your partner. No one love language is better or worse than the other, they are just different. What I do notice, is that for each person their love language seems so clear as to be the way to give and receive love. Examples can sound something like:
“If they loved me they would tell me more how much they love me” – Words of Affirmation
“If they loved me they would help me out more” – Acts of Service
“If they loved me they would surprise me more with little gifts” – Receiving Gifts
“If they loved me they would want to spend more time with me” – Quality of Time
“If they loved me they would be more affectionate with me” – Physical Touch
When a couple has different love languages, and doesn’t know it, they can easily miss when the other person is actually communicating love. Imagine a couple where one person’s love language is physical touch and the other person’s love language is acts of service. Struggle in the relationship can sound something like this: (husband/wife)
Wife: “It’s nice that my husband is affectionate. He holds my hand, gives lots of kisses, and is attentive which is nice. However, he never seems to want to help me out or do things for me. I feel like he doesn’t appreciate how I help him out so he doesn’t have to stress. Hugs and kisses are great but if he really cared he would help me out more so I didn’t have to stress.”
Husband: “I appreciate how much my wife does for me and takes care of the little things but it seems that I’m always the one who initiates affection. I feel like if I didn’t make the effort we would not really be very affectionate. I can feel rejected and feel that if she really cared about me she would want to be more physically affectionate.”
Each person is actually giving love in the language that most resonates with them but they not experiencing receiving love in the same language. If we know our partner’s love language then we can better recognize when they are giving love and we can make more efforts to give love in their language.
If this sounds familiar, you may be experiencing a mistranslation of love languages in your relationship. Identifying yours and your partner’s love language is just one tool to help with communication and certainly not the only one. It takes a lot of effort and work to create and maintain healthy communication in any relationship.
In my work as a therapist, I work to help my clients develop effective communication strategies in order to build and nurture meaningful relationships. If you are struggling with communication in your relationship and would like to learn more about these strategies, including the love languages, please contact me and I would love to help!
Book: The Five Love Languages: How to Express Heartfelt Commitment to Your Mate by Gary Chapman