The novelist George Sand said, “There is only one happiness in this life, to love and be loved.” Although I find her narrowing of happiness in life down to “only one” to be limiting, I would agree that in relationships, a person’s joy and comfort, is correlated to whether he/she feels loved. Not feeling loved in a relationship can be hurtful and heartbreaking; however, when love is given and received by both people, it is euphoric. Giving love and how it is received by another is not always black and white, like most things in life there is room for misinterpretation and miscommunication.
Recently, while researching topics, I came across a concept I had heard about before that was developed and written about by Dr. Gary Chapman in his book, The Five Love Languages: How to Express Heartfelt Commitment to Your Mate. In the past, the concept, and name I found to be cheesy, so I never took the time to read and understand what it was about, but I decided for this post I would look into it again with a more open mind.
The Five Love Languages
The idea proposed by Dr. Chapman is that there are five ways or as he calls it “love languages” in which people experience and show love. The five love languages are:
- Words of Affection – Showing love to your partner through verbal communication by giving compliments, affirmations, or expressing appreciation.
- Quality Time– Spending time with your significant other where you are giving he/she your full and undivided attention.
- Receiving Gifts– Giving your partner a thoughtful and tangible gift.
- Acts of Service– Doing something helpful for your significant other that he/ she would like you to do.
- Physical Touch– Physical contact with your partner.
Dr. Chapman suggests that we primarily give love to others in the way that we, ourselves would like to receive it. We may find that one love language makes us feel more fulfilled than others. The potentially problematic impact this concept has in a relationship is that one person’s primary love language may be different from another’s. If two people are not expressing and receiving love, in the same way, they are speaking different love languages which could result in one or both of the people feeling unhappy and unloved.
Let me provide an example your boyfriend showers you with little thoughtful gifts, which you appreciate, but you begin to question if he loves you because he never says it aloud. When you get into a disagreement, you let it slip out that you do not believe he loves you. Your boyfriend is shocked and confused by this statement and points out all the little thoughtful gifts he has given you, which he thought was showing his love for you. The primary love language for the boyfriend is ‘Receiving Gifts” whereas the girlfriend is ‘Words of Affirmation.’
Why is this important?
The reason it helps to know your significant other’s love language is so that you are giving them love in a way that makes them feel the most satisfied. It is another way to build understanding and communicate in your relationship to make it stronger and to ensure you and your partner’s needs are met. Relationships take work; it is not a one-person job it is a collaboration.
Where can I find out my love language?
There is a quick and free assessment that can be found on Dr. Gary Chapman’s website, The 5 Love Languages. I will warn you that some questions are redundant, but you are done in no time at all.
I challenge you and your significant other to take the assessment and then discuss the results. No matter how many years you are with someone, you will never know everything about them, use this as a tool to learn more about your partner, and grow stronger as a couple.