“Love is a fruit in season at all times, and within reach of every hand.” - Mother Teresa
One of the oldest living married couples resides in Austin, Texas. To put things in perspective, they began dating towards the end of Prohibition, and they have both been retired since Watergate. This precious couple has spent 85 years together (80 of them married), and their relationship advice is very simple: “Enjoy each other.” They drink a glass of wine together every night and still continue to write love poetry for one another.
A (former) couple in Kuwait is said to have been married for three whole minutes: the bride tripped on her way out of the ceremony, and rather than helping his new spouse, the groom called her “stupid.” She marched back in and demanded the judge grant them a divorce on the spot.
Why do some relationships last while others fail? Perhaps it is as simple as being in touch with our own needs and those of our partner.
One tool for better understanding our partner – and ourselves – can be found in Gary Chapman’s book series, The Five Love Languages. According to Chapman, there are five general ways that romantic partners express and experience love: Words of Affirmation, Quality Time, Receiving Gifts, Acts of Service, and Physical Touch. While you may have more than one “Love Language,” most people find that one resonates most strongly.
Words of Affirmation: People with words of affirmation as their primary Love Language value verbal acknowledgments of affection. They need to hear those three little words, “I love you.” They value words of appreciation, compliments, and frequent communication like texting. These expressions make them feel appreciated and understood.
If your partner experiences love through Words of Affirmation, be sure to speak your appreciation and admiration. Leave love notes for them, even if it’s just a Post-It on the mirror in the morning or a quick text before you head home. The words don’t have to be complicated; even the simplest expressions can be effective.
• “You know how to make me laugh.”
• “That shirt looks amazing on you!”
• “I just want you to know: I’m really proud of you.”
• “Thank you for taking out the garbage. I appreciate you.”
Quality Time: These people feel most adored when their partner spends meaningful time with them. They value interpersonal connection. They especially need active listening, eye contact, and full presence.
If your partner values Quality Time, know that it’s all about undivided attention. Yes, you can curl up on the couch and binge-watch your latest Netflix obsession together, but the time must be undistracted. Put your phone away!
One way to “speak” this language is to develop a routine together. Spend fifteen minutes alone together each morning to talk about the day’s plans. Take a walk together in the evening. Call each other every day at lunchtime.
Receiving Gifts: This is pretty straight-forward. It is not necessarily about the monetary value, however, behind the gesture. People with this style recognize and value the gift-giving process, the careful reflection, and the deliberate choice of a personal gift.
If your partner’s Love Language is Receiving Gifts, be sure to mark every holiday and anniversary on your calendar, and don’t forget to celebrate small victories and “just because” days, too. Select gifts that are meaningful to your relationship or your partner’s interests.
Acts of Service: These people believe actions speak louder than words. They like to be shown how they are appreciated through their partner’s actions. Cooking a meal, doing the laundry, and walking the dog are all acts of service. After a long, busy day at the office, these acts performed with positivity provide ultimate happiness.
If you’re with an Acts of Service partner, think ahead. At times when they will be tired or stressed, be ready with their favorite comfort food. Offer to take over tasks that might be a burden to them. Trade home responsibilities so that each of you is working to your strengths.
Physical Touch: These people feel most loved when they receive physical touch from their partner, including kissing, hugging, holding hands, and making love. These people feel unloved without physical touch. All of the gifts in the world won’t change that.
If you’re partnered up with a Physical Touch person, find ways to incorporate touch into your everyday tasks. As you pass your partner in the house, lay a hand on their shoulder. Say “goodbye” and “hello” with a quick kiss or a hug. When you’re vegging out on the couch, sit close enough to touch, or give your partner a foot rub.
What is the most popular Love Language? In the book, Dr. Chapman analyzed the results of 10,000 people who took the online quiz in 2010 and found that Words of Affirmation was the most popular Love Language. In 2018, the dating app Hinge analyzed their app and discovered the most common Love Language was Quality time, by far.
Why the change in 8 years? Perhaps it is because we have grown increasingly farther apart due to cell phone usage, social media obsessions, work schedules, and the numerous other aspects of modern life that seemingly take us away from our significant others. It makes perfect sense that we are longing and yearning for undistracted time together. It’s time to put down the cell phones, log out of social media, and tune in to our partner.
What is your Love Language? Now that you know a little bit about the Five Love Languages, you should have a good idea which one is your primary language. To find out for sure, you can take a quiz at 5lovelanguages.com.
This is an ideal activity for date night! The site offers a couples’ quiz: take it together with your partner and hone in on what it is you each really need to be romantically fulfilled. Many unhappy couples find they’re having a Love Language “miscommunication:” one is expressing love through a language that isn’t the other partner’s main Love Language.
Love is within reach of every hand. It’s time to discover your Love Language and use this knowledge to grab ahold!