The 5 Love Languages

Love is not the problem
I have been a marriage and family therapist for more than a decade and I have seen many married couples go through difficulties in their relationship. The problem usually is not that they don’t love each other. In fact, there is a lot of love in the air. They simply keep missing each other with their love. They are not loving their partner in their partner’s love language.

 5 Love Languages

According to Gary Chapman, author of “The 5 Love Languages”, there are 5 different ways in which people express love:

  1. Words of affirmation – e.g. Say things like: “Great job”, “That was amazing”, “Damn, you look sexy!!!”
  2. Acts of service – e.g. Cooking a nice meal, Mowing the lawn, Putting gasoline in the partner’s car.
  3. Gifts – e.g. Giving expensive gift like a diamond ring or a homemade gift like a drawing.
  4. Touch – e.g. Sex, Massage, Hugs, Handholding, and did I mention “Sex”?
  5. Quality time – e.g. Giving undivided attention, Turning off electronic devices.

Can your partner “hear” your love?

All 5 love languages communicate love to our partner but only one or two of those will speak the loudest to them. What typically happens is that we will speak our own love language to our partner because it feels natural and right. But what if our partner’s love language is different? Imagine what would happen if my love language is touch and my wife’s is quality time? I may try to show love to her by “touching” her all the time but what she really desires is time spent together. When that happens, her love tank will not get filled (and I will get sued for sexual harassment).

The key to loving your partner is to find their primary love language and speak more of it. Of course you will continue to speak the other 4 love languages but you want to be intentional about his/her primary love language.

What is your primary love language?

Do you know what is your primary love language? Do you know what is your partner’s primary love language? Have a conversation with your partner and find out about each other’s love language. Make a pact to be intentional about each other’s love language.

Here are a few questions to get you started:

1. Which of the 5 love languages speak the loudest to you? Pick your top 2.

  • Words of affirmation
  • Acts of service
  • Gifts
  • Touch
  • Quality time

(Hint: If you have trouble deciding, ask yourself the following questions: What do you ask your partner for the most?  The absence of which love language hurts the most? Which one do you usually do for your partner? We typically speak our own love language to the other person)

2. Which of the 5 love languages speak the loudest to your partner? Pick his/her top 2. (It is always better to ask him/her)

3. Rate from 1 to 10 (10 being excellent), how are you doing in speaking your partner’s love language? Write down one thing you can do today to improve the number by one. When your partner’s love tank is full, he/she will most likely respond to your need.

P.S. If speaking your partner’s love language is not natural to you, it is ok. It is supposed to feel awkward and unnatural. It is like you learning how to speak a foreign language – unnatural, frustrating and difficult. However, if you stick with it, you will learn to speak the language more fluently and your partner’s love tank will get filled up.

©Herman Chow
D.Min, RP, RMFT, Certified EFT Therapist