Assume for a moment that we are born with an emotional tank. A tank that we would like to remain filled with love. As long as the tank is filled with love, we at most times allow our partners to get away with almost anything. The problem starts when this tank starts depleting. Naturally, we would want our partners to do something to fill this tank with love again. But more often than not, our partner is trying to make us feel loved again, by doing things that they believe would make us happy. The problem arises when after multiple efforts from our partner, something just doesn’t click. Has it ever happened with you that you're doing everything you can to please your partner but they're still feeling frustrated and not fully loved? You're giving them compliments, you work hard all day and pay the bills, you give them gifts and you even do some chores around the house, but your partner is still not content because they feel like something is missing. You might think what more do they really want? It can often become incredibly frustrating and annoying. One of the reasons why they might not be feeling loved is that perhaps, you're not expressing your love for them, in a way that they desire.
The problem is that in many cases, the way one partner understands love is very different from the way the other partner expresses it. For example, if you only understand English and your partner were to speak to you in German, you wouldn't be able to understand her/him. So, just like in the case of different languages, love can also get ‘lost in translation’.
Most of us think that the way we want to be loved is how our partner wants to be loved as well. But, this is not the case mostly. In fact, according to Dr Gary Chapman, there are Five Different Love Languages. The love languages describe 5 different ways in which people express and want to receive love in their relationships. Let us now look at these 5 different love languages one by one.
THE FIVE LOVE LANGUAGES
(One can have multiple love languages)
1. WORDS OF AFFIRMATION
Words of affirmation refer to "the use of words to express that you care for someone, value their presence, pay attention to them and show that they are important to you. This may include using expressions like, "I love You", "You are looking good today", "I am so happy to have you in my life" and at times it would simply be, "Thank you".
For those who have this as their love language, hearing these words of affirmation is very important for them. You may do everything for them but if they don't hear these words, it could all mean nothing. Whereas, at most times, if you simply say these words without doing much else, that would mean a lot to them.
2. PHYSICAL TOUCH
Physical touch may simply include holding hands, hugging, tapping on the shoulder and sexual intercourse in case of romantic partners. In fact, it relates to anything that includes physical proximity and may not necessarily be sexual in nature. For those who understand love through physical touch, the display of affection ‘physically’ may be the most important way to understand and receive love.
3. QUALITY TIME
Quality time may be defined as, "two partners spending time with each other, in a way that both of them are completely focusing on each other". There are no disturbances or distractions. So, if a husband is watching TV and his wife is working on a laptop, while they're sitting and talking to each other, it may not be necessarily considered Quality Time. Although, the definition of quality time may differ from couple to couple.
When it comes to gifts, it is often, not about the cost, but about the fact that you were thoughtful about the gift and the person for whom you bought the gift, the gesture matters. It is also important that there is a surprise element. Hence, wrapping the gift may be almost as important as the gift itself. The expression and the excitement of the person whose primary love language is giving gifts, at the time of unwrapping that gift is truly a sight to cherish for their partner. The gesture of gifting is not necessarily limited to wrapping but what actually matters is the thought of making the person feel loved and important. So, surprising your partner by giving them gifts outside of special occasions or making them handmade gifts that are personal might be a good idea if your partner’s preferred love language is ‘receiving gifts’.
5. ACTS OF SERVICE
Acts of service refer to doing some thoughtful and selfless acts to make the life of your partner easier without being asked to do so and without any expectation in return. These are nice things or gestures that you do for your partner that actually make them feel loved and appreciated. It’s like going out of your way to make coffee for your partner in the morning, doing household chores when they are sick, or helping them out if they feel stuck in their work. People whose preferred love language is acts of service like to be shown that they’re appreciated and cared for. For them, ‘actions speak louder than words’. So, doing anything small or large to make your partner’s life easier, without expecting anything in return, amounts to an Act of Service.
Love languages might change over time with people having several experiences throughout their lifetime. One thing that remains all through is the effort to speak that language and express it to the other person. We, at MentAmigo, understand this and therefore provide you with a safe, non-judgmental space to express to each other your love languages. With the help of couple sessions with our therapists, you can understand your and your partner's love language in order to strengthen the relationship.