Written by: Robert R. Cassman, LPCC-S
We all communicate love to one other. We just don’t do it the same way. Gary Chapman has written several books on the “Five Love Languages.” These are the five styles that people use to communicate their love to others. It is important to understand that these are not simply love languages for the romantics. These can be communicated toward anyone we love. Understanding these will help couples, in particular, to better communicate.
- Words of Affirmation. This person communicates love to another through words. One person may say “you look nice in that dress” while another person may say “you are so smart.” Another common one is simply “I love you.” These words affirm the other person. They communicate “I love you.” If you like to hear nice things said to you, then you feel less loved if you don’t receive those nice words. You may say “I don’t think he loves me because he never tells me so.”
- Acts of Service. The person who favors this love language has the motto “actions speak louder than words.” They know they are loved because of all the things done for them. You may say “I know he loves, he does so many nice things for me.” Doing something special for a loved one is an important love language. A wife may clean the gutters for her husband; a husband may make coffee for his wife in the morning. Whether big or small is not the point. The act itself was done simply out of love.
- Receiving Gifts. A boy may buy flowers for his girlfriend as a way of saying “I love you.” A father may buy his son a new car. These are ways of communicating love. These gifts don’t have to be expensive. Many people see a homemade gift as representing more love than a purchased one. Understanding that everyone has their own love language is particularly important with this one. A dad may never say words of affirmation but will lavish his children with gifts. That does not mean he doesn’t love his children. It simply means that he communicates his love differently than the use of words. Realizing, “maybe my dad DID love me after all” is a powerful moment.
- Quality Time. One of the most popular love languages comes from the idea that if we love someone, we spend time with that person. If a husband gets off of work and spends the night with his buddies at bar his wife may wonder “why doesn’t he love me?” She may speak the love language of “quality time” and think “if he loved me he would spend time with me.” But just because he doesn’t speak his wife’s love language doesn’t mean he doesn’t love her. She could look for HIS love language. Naturally, he should learn her love language and “speak it” more fluently. And the flip side is true. If your husband has never bought you flowers or other gifts, but spends QUALITY time with you, maybe he really does love you. Maybe his “gift” IS his time.
- Physical Touch. Some people will say they can’t remember a single time their parents hugged them. This may be an example of someone who communicated love through affection but never felt it reciprocated. Physical touch is a natural love language. At a funeral we attempt to console others through a hug. With a wounded child they may sit on our laps. On a date we hold hands. Sex can also be a form of the love language “physical touch.” Maybe the man expresses his love through sex. But the woman would prefer “words of affirmation.” She turns him down and he begins to think “she doesn’t love me.” They both would do well to learn the other’s love language.
One of the most important parts of a relationship is communication. We use language to communicate to others. But this language may not help if it is not the RIGHT language. For instance, if I were to go to Germany, I would not communicate very well if I didn’t speak the German language. To better communicate, I would need to learn THEIR language. The same is true in relationships.