I read recently that there are 5 ways people receive love inside relationships. Everybody is different. Most people have a primary way of receiving love, then a secondary way, and so on, depending on the order of importance to them.
The 5 languages of love are:
1. Acts of service (having things done for you)
2. Physical touch (physical intimacy)
3. Quality time (spending time together)
4. Words of affirmation (words that build rather than tear down)
5. Gifts (giving and receiving gifts)
These are the 5 ways people receive love.
Understanding the 5 love languages and how you receive love:
Give some thought to these questions . . .
What is my primary love language (the way I give and receive love)? i.e. what makes me feel most loved? What do I desire above all else?
Ignoring my love language is like ignoring the needs of a garden: If I don’t weed, water or fertilize, it will die a slow death.
What would I request most from my spouse/significant other? Whatever I request most would be my primary love language.
What do I do or say to express my love? Chances are that what I’m doing to express my love is probably what I wish would be done for me, so how do I consciously express my love?
Love doesn’t erase the past, but it makes the future different. When we choose active expressions of love, we create an emotional climate where we can deal with our past conflicts and failures.
The “in love” experience is on the level of instinct. It is not premeditated; it simply happens in the normal context of male-female relationships. It can be fostered or quenched, but it does not arise by conscious choice. It is short-lived (usually two years or less) and seems to serve the same function for humans as the mating of an animal.
The “in love” experience temporarily meets one’s emotional need for love. It gives us the feeling that someone cares, that someone admires us and appreciates us. Our emotions soar with the thought he/she is willing to devote time and energy exclusively to our relationship. For a brief period (however long it lasts) our emotional need for love is met.
In time we come down from that natural high to the real world. If our spouse/significant other has learned to speak our primary love language, our need for love will continue to be satisfied. If not, our tank will slowly drain, and we will no longer feel loved. Meeting that need in your spouse/significant other is definitely a choice. If I learn to speak the emotional love language of my spouse/significant other and speak it frequently, they will continue to feel loved. When they come down from the obsession of the “in love” experience, they will hardly even miss it because their emotional love tank will continue to be filled.
Meeting my spouse/significant other’s need for love is a choice I make each day. If I know their primary love language and choose to speak it, their deepest emotional needs will be met, and they will feel secure in my love. If they do the same for me, my emotional needs are met and both of us live with a full tank.
What if the love language of my spouse/significant other does not come naturally to me? For example: if they love receiving gifts but I’m not naturally one for giving gifts? When an action does not come naturally to you, it is a greater expression of love because of the extra effort you need to put in to make it happen. Love is something you do for someone else, not something you do for yourself. Love is a choice.
The five emotional love languages:
1. Words of Affirmation: One way to express love emotionally is to use words that build up the other person. Verbal compliments, or words of appreciation, are powerful communicators of love. They are best expressed in simple, straightforward statements of affirmation such as: “You look good in that suit/dress” or “You always make me laugh”. Words of affirmation are one of the five basic love languages. Possibly the deepest human need is the need to feel appreciated. Words of affirmation will meet that need in many individuals.
2. Quality Time: “Quality time” means giving someone your undivided attention. This does not mean sitting on the couch watching movies together. When you do that the movie has your attention. Quality time means sitting on the couch, TV switched off, looking at each other and talking – all other devices (including cellular phones) put away, giving each other your undivided attention. You could take a walk, just the two of you, or go out for a meal and looking at each other and talking. We need to make the most of the hours available to us, by committing some of them to our spouse/significant other. If your spouse/significant other’s primary love language is quality time, they simply want you, being with them, spending time with them – nothing else.
3. Receiving gifts: At the heart of love is the spirit of giving. All five languages challenges us to give to our spouse, but for some, receiving gifts, visible symbols of love, speaks the loudest. A gift is something you can hold in your hands and say “Look, he/she was thinking of me,” or “He/she remembered me.” You must be thinking of the person to give them a gift. The gift itself is a symbol of that thought. Whether the gift cost money or not does not matter. What is important is that you thought of him/her, and it is not the thought implanted only in the mind that counts but the thought expressed in actually securing the gift and giving it as an expression of love.
4. Acts of service: This means doing things you know your spouse would like you to do. You seek to please him/her by serving them, to express your love by doing things for him/her. Actions such as household chores are all acts of service. They require thought, planning, time, effort and energy. If done with a positive spirit, they are definitely expressions of love. If your spouse’s love language is acts of service, then “Actions speak louder than words”.
5. Physical touch: Physical touch is a way of communicating emotional love. Physical touch is also a powerful vehicle for communicating marital love. Holding hands, kissing, embracing and sexual intercourse are all ways of communicating emotional love to one’s spouse. For some individuals, physical touch is their primary love language. Without it, they feel unloved. With it, their emotional tank is filled, and they feel secure in the love of their spouse. Implicit love touches require little time but much thought, especially if physical touch is not your primary love language and if you did not grow up in a “touching family”. Sitting close to each other as you watch TV requires no additional time but will communicate your love loudly. Touching your spouse as you walk through the room where they are sitting only takes a moment. Touching each other when you leave the house and again when you return may involve a brief kiss or hug but will speak volumes to your spouse.
Once you discover that physical touch is the primary love language of your spouse, you are limited only to your imagination on ways to express love.
Time for action:
Discuss this with your partner and find out what their primary and secondary ways of receiving love are – ask: what does receiving love look like to you?
How do you put all this into action?
Words of Affirmation:
• Occasionally, for no other reason other than love, e-mail or text a random note of affirmation to your partner during the day or when one of you is travelling. There is nothing better than opening an e-mail and realising it is person – not work related or spam.
• Give your sister or brother a call and thank him or her for putting up with your antics while growing up. Pick a memory you especially love and take some time to reminisce together. Don’t forget to express how thankful you are for their involvement in your life.
• Keep a journal of all the words of affirmation you speak to your partner or children this week. Take note at the end of it what you excelled at and what you can work on in the future. Intentionality and practice are key when it comes to nurturing your children and your relationships.
Acts of Service:
• If you attend a church, volunteer to help with their soup kitchen or any other area where you can volunteer your services. Churches are always in need of a few extra hands to help out, or even items you could donate, and this can be great ways to get involved while serving others.
• If your friend or partner has been talking about learning a new skill or improving in a certain area, find a local or online class to sign them up for. If you would like to speak the love language of Quality Time, you can sign up for the class as well.
• For one week, wake up half an hour early (or stay up for a half hour later) and dedicate this time to doing acts of service for your spouse. You could load the dishwasher (if you are male) or make him a cup of coffee, your partner is bound to feel seen and loved.
• Keep a running list of your friends’ “favourites” on your phone or mobile device. If you notice they are having a hard day or week, pull up your list and see if you can find something to give them to brighten their day.
• Are you away on work trips often? Try and pick up a special gift for your partner or child while you’re away. This is a wonderful way to show your loved ones that you are thinking of them when you are not able to be together.
• Summer is the perfect time to keep an eye out for fun, spontaneous gifts that you can purchase at flower vendors, fruit and craft stands or a favourite ice cream shop. Surprise your co-worker or partner by showing up with something exciting for them.
• When was the last time you had your mom and dad out for a special meal or made them dinner? Ask one (or both) of them if they have a free night coming up and treat them to some quality time and food.
• Spend a few extra minutes putting your child to bed at night. Bedtime stories, talking about the day, or praying together at night are great habits to begin with your children. Take advantage of this rare opportunity when you have your child’s full attention.
• Is your friend an early bird or night owl? Respect their tendencies and plan and outing according to their schedule. Set your alarm earlier to make it to breakfast or drink an extra cup of coffee to stay awake through a night showing of a new movie.
• As your partner is telling you about a hard day or something that was upsetting, stroke their hair or rub their back – maybe even offer a massage. This soothing action will help calm and reassure your partner that they are loved and valued.
• If it’s not your practice already, make a point to hug your friends when you greet them. This simple act begins any interaction on a positive and loving note. If by chance your friend is not a hugger, maybe a fist-bump is your best alternative.
• Make a point of snuggling with your children as you read to them. This may look different depending on their age, but never give up on an opportunity for a little skin-to-skin contact with them. Chapter books are great for older children – you could read one or two chapters with them every night.