I don’t know about you, but I’ve heard the quote “love is an action” a lot in recent years. I did not quite understand what this meant in practice until I stumbled across “The 5 Love Languages” by Gary Chapman. In his book, Chapman expresses the idea that a love language is your preferred way to receive love and affection. This can apply to your spouse or relationship partner, but it can also be helpful to understand your relationship with family members, friends, children, or other loved ones in your life. The 5 Love Languages highlight how to give and receive love using words and actions. Knowing the way want to be loved is so important and can help you grow and nurture your relationships.
Here are the 5 Love Languages that Chapman lays out in his book, and a few ways that they can be put into practice:
- Quality Time – This one is pretty easy to conceptualize – just spend time together! Think about walks around your neighborhood together, ordering in from your favorite restaurant and taking time to talk about your day, planning and going on a short weekend getaway, etc. (Hate to burst any bubbles, but… being on your phones next to each other does not count as quality time.)
- Physical Touch – To some, this does mean sex! But this is not the only way to put this love language into practice. Other ways could be hand holding, back rubs, or hugs! This may be all they are really looking for to confirm your love for them.
- Words of Affirmation – Simply put, tell them that you love them! Tell them in different ways how much they mean to you. Compliment them – let them know that you think they are smart and strong and talented and brave and kind.
- Acts of Service – Do things to show them that you are thinking of them! This could be doing the dishes before they get home from work, making them some soup when they are not feeling well, or completing some household tasks without being asked.
- Receiving Gifts – Bring your partner gifts every now and again to show them that they are on your mind. This could be something homemade, some handpicked wildflowers, their favorite coffee from their favorite store, etc. The value of the gift does not need to be astronomical; it is truly the thought that counts!
After understanding the basic 5 love languages, it is important to know the way that you prefer to receive love and the way your partner prefers it. This requires some reflection and a bit of work. Think back… how have you been showing love to your partner or loved one? Have you been showing them love the way that you prefer to receive it? This is where the art of communication comes in. If you and your partner are not communicative, you may spend years buying them flowers because gifts are how you prefer to receive love. They may wonder why you keep bringing them flowers every week when all they want is for you to hold their hand in public – that physical touch.
This example of disconnect in communication is where I find great value in Chapman’s simple idea. Learning your primary and secondary love languages, as well as those of your partner, can help you begin to understand what you want and what you need separately and as a unit.
A good way to begin this journey of understanding your love languages would just be to sit down and start a conversation. The action of simply expressing interest in the way that your spouse prefers to be loved will open doors of communication and appreciation. If you or your partner are unsure of your love languages, online quizzes are also available and can be a great resource to help begin this journey.
Chapman, G. D. (2010). The 5 love languages: the secret to love that lasts. Chicago: Northfield Pub.