Learning to Speak the Love Languages

“Strangely enough, one can be loved and accepted unconditionally and still not feel genuinely loved. What feels like love will vary with the individual – this is why you must know your mate so well. One person may measure love by the way his material needs are met, or by tangible items such as expensive gifts. Another may feel loved when her husband helps her with the dishes. One will measure love by the amount of time spent together, or by the quality of openness and sharing of thoughts between two. Another desperately needs to hear often the words: I love you. Still another measures love by physical affection–hugs and kisses. One person puts a heavy emphasis on the loyalty shown by the mate, especially in public. Another values sensitivity shown to feelings. Some will measure love by the support given to their personal growth and development. There are so many languages of love! While all I have mentioned are important, some of them will have special, even critical significance for your mate on an emotional level. Learn what speaks love to your partner; then express your love in ways that cannot be doubted.” Ed Wheat, Love Life

Gary Chapman has written a number of practical books on what he calls The Five Love Languages (including books relating the “love languages” to teens and to children.) He suggests that there are five love languages, each with various dialects:

Words of Affirmation, Quality Time, Receiving Gifts, Acts of Service, Physical Touch

Seldom do a husband and wife have the same primary love language. Less seldom do families share the same primary love languages. And, our primary love language may change over time. We have “love tanks” that need to be regularly filled. We need to learn to speak our loved ones’ primary love languages to fill their tanks. When your spouse feels secure in your love, they will be happier and more fulfilled. When their love tank is empty, they feel used and worthless; their world feels dark and oppressive.
A person’s criticisms and complaints can be major clues to what their primary love language is. In other words, a spouse’s criticisms about your behavior can provide you with the clearest clue to her primary love language. People tend to criticize their
spouse most loudly in the area where they themselves have the deepest emotional need. Their criticism is an ineffective way of pleading for love.

Questions to consider when determining your primary love language, in addition to the formal assessment:
How did your parents show you love? When did you feel most loved by them?
How do you express love to your spouse (or a close friend)?
How do you express love to your children?
What does a loved one do or not do that hurts you most deeply?
What type of things do you most often request of your spouse?
In what way do you most regularly express love to your spouse?
What first attracted you to your spouse or made you think that he or she cared for you?

Clues for discovering your spouse’s (or a child’s) primary language:
Pay close attention to how they express love to you and others. People tend to try to show love in ways they want to be loved.
Listen to what they request most often.
Consider what they complain about most.
Ask them. Or ask them to do the assessment.
*Do not “peg” them into a box. Remember, an adult’s love languages can change, and children’s languages may change as they grow.

Run an experiment. If it is still hard to understand what most communicates love, make a best guess of what their primary love language is. Attempt to practice showing love in specific ways in this language for the next two weeks. See if it makes a difference. If not, try another language for another two weeks.