During our premarital counseling my wife and I took a test to determine our “love language”. It was one of the ways that our pastor used to help us get our marriage off on the right foot. A “love language” is the way that people speak and understand emotional love. The concept was originated by Dr. Gary Chapman who wrote the book The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love that Lasts.
The topic of the love languages comes up in conversation in our household with some frequency. Sometimes it revolves around how our children receive love. Other times it is because my wife or I feel an urgency to re-connect in a way that meets our emotional needs.
In a gathering of people late last week, one of my friends brought up the love languages and spawned an entire conversation. Some of the individuals had heard of the love languages and others had not. It was fascinating to witness the curiosity birthed by the thoughts my friend shared.
Dr. Chapman has observed that a husband and wife seldom have the same primary love language. We often speak or demonstrate our love for our partner in our primary love language. This leads to confusion when our partner does not understand what we are communicating. Our partner who has a different primary love language perceives the communication from us in a foreign language. Dr. Chapman wrote his book in order to help this problem.
Here are the five emotional love languages and a brief description:
- Acts of Service – Actions speak louder than words. Finding ways to serve speaks volumes to the recipient of these acts. Easing the burden of responsibilities weighing on this type of person expresses love and care. Laziness and broken commitments will communicate a lack of care to speakers of this language.
- Physical Touch – Nothing speaks more deeply than appropriate touch. Hugs, pats on the back, thoughtful touches on the arm. Physical presence is appreciated. Speakers of this language feel secure and belonging when their emotional need for touch is met. Neglect or abuse can be devastating to these individuals.
- Quality Time – This language is all about giving the other person undivided attention. Put down the iPhone, turn off the TV, focus intently on your significant other. Sharing quality conversations and activities is enriching to these individuals. Distractions and postponed dates will cause pain for speakers of this language.
- Receiving Gifts – Receiving a gift makes these people feel most loved. The thoughtfulness and effort behind a gift is critically important. Gifts are visual representations of love. Missing an important date or a thoughtless gift will injure these individuals.
- Words of Affirmation – Words are affirming. Unsolicited compliments and praise mean the world. Hearing the reasons behind feelings will cause their spirit to soar. Kind and encouraging words are life-giving. Insults are taken to heart and emotionally damaging to words of affirmation people.
I am a firm believer in the love languages and their value. Knowing the individual ways that my wife feels emotionally fulfilled has been priceless. It has also given us a platform on which to communicate. We have avoided problems by our mutual understanding of the love languages.
I would encourage you to consider learning your love language. The website associated with the book offers a quick little quiz (about 5 minutes) that will identify it for you. I went and took the quiz again this weekend. It confirmed that my love language is Words of Affirmation. I scored 11 with 12 being the highest possible score for any one area. Maybe that is why all of your positive feedback means so much to me!
Question: What is your love language? How will you use this knowledge going forward? You can leave a comment by clicking here.
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