So many of my sweet and loving couples clients tell me they feel under appreciated and unacknowledged in their relationships. They can say nice things to a partner all day long and somehow their partner just doesn't seem to hear them. Meanwhile their partner is buying them gifts, and surprising them with fancy dinners, but never says the right words to their sweetheart.
Neither of them feels the love the other is putting out. It's just plain exhausting. This is actually a relatively common miscommunication between partners. So much so that it has been beautifully explained in the book, The Five Love Languages. But if you don't have time for a whole book (or the heavy Christian influence in the end is too much for you), here is a quick summary that could really help you two get back on the same page.
More from YourTango: 5 Questions To See If You Need A Couples Counselor
The bottom line is there are five main love languages in the world and each of us has prefers one or two of them to the others. We have such a strong preference we can actually miss out on the love being tossed our ways in other languages. Each of us is likely to demonstrate our love using the language we prefer.
The problem for many of us is that our preferred love language may not match our partner's. Without clarity about both of our default styles and preferences we can keep missing all the great stuff each of us is doing to nurture the relationship.
So first, it's important to know which love language is your personal preference. Ask yourself the following:
- What is the sweetest thing your partner has ever done for you? What made it so touching?
- What are the five most recent ways you showed your partner you love them? How did they respond?
This information will help you determine your preferred love language. Often we default to our own favorite love language when giving love to our partner. However, it's important to try to use a variety of ways to show your sweetheart you care. And it is critical to learn your partner's preference and work in ways they will really enjoy being loved.
The Five Love Languages:
1. Words of Love
There are many ways to share words of love. It's really helpful to share affirmations and appreciations every day. Tell your partner why they are special to you and what drew you to them. Help them see how great they are in person and in writing. Emails, texts, quick phone calls or Skype dates can quickly warm your loved ones' heart. It can take a little creativity if this isn't your primary love language. Make a list of all the ways you can tell them and begin making attempts every day. You might want to make them a card, write it on a cake, read it in a poem, or shout it from the rooftop!
2. Physical Affection
Do you hold hands in the movies? Do you kiss hello and goodbye? Hugging, cuddling, and sex is especially important to partners who prioritize this love language. Increasing the amount of loving touch you share doesn't take much time, but may require a little thought, especially if this isn't your primary love language or you didn’t grow up in a physically affectionate family. Simply sitting close to each other as you watch TV requires no additional time, but can communicate your love loudly if your partner prefers this love language.
3. Acts of Service
Anything you do to ease the burden of responsibilities weighing on an a partner who highly values acts of service will speak volumes. Some of the words they most want to hear are, "Let me do that for you." Ask yourself, what chore or responsibility is your partner constantly nagging you about? Your spouse is telling you this particular task as a really important thing to him or her. Try it as a starting point for your acts of service.
4. Quality Time
Time is a strong communicator of love and all too often couples spend more time apart than together. Because we are drawn in so many directions it is especially important to spend real-time focused on each other and your partnership. In order to increase connection and communication for the partner who especially values quality time there are a few easy ways to improve the quality of your shared time.
- Set your electronic devices aside for a set time (especially on dates and during conversations).
- Maintain eye contact when your partner is talking.
- Try not to interrupt.
- Reflect your partners words back to them so they know you hear them.
- Ask yourself, what your partner is experiencing, and try to confirm their emotional experience.
All five love languages challenge us to give to our spouse, but for some, receiving gifts, visible symbols of love, speaks the loudest. This does not have to be a materialistic gesture. Some of the most meaningful gifts can include tickets to a show you loved together, or a receipt from a date when you were just getting to know each other. They can be flowers from your yard, drawings, or poems. Keep a note of your partners wish list (Evernote can be a great tool for this on your smart phone) so you always have ideas handy.
Understanding the five love languages and the ways they support your love can lead to greater creativity, interest, and most importantly awareness in your relationship.
More from YourTango: 30 Romantic Ways To Say 'I Love You'
More love advice on YourTango:
- 25 Romantic Ways To Say 'I Love You'
- 5 Ways To Be Happy About Your Love Life Right Now!
- 50 Love Quotes We Adore