3 Easy Ways to Improve your Relationship: Identify Your Love Languages

3 Ways To Improve RelationshipMany have likely heard about the five love languages, first described in the 1995 book for couples written by Gary Chapman, Ph.D., with later books applying the concept to children and also to singles.

In summary, he describes the following five ways of expressing and experiencing love with your partner:

1. Receiving gifts. In this language, a tangible expression from his or her significant other is what makes this mate feel special, appreciated and loved.

2. Spending quality time together. Just the two of you, focused on each other, is deemed most valuable here.

3. Words of affirmation. Verbal or written expressions of love, consideration, understanding, and praise from an intimate partner speak volumes.

4. Acts of service. Helping with needed tasks or chores (especially without having to be asked!) is a much appreciated, valued expression of love.

5. Physical touch. Not necessarily a sexual act; perhaps holding hands or getting a foot massage is more meaningful.

According to Chapman, we not only express emotional love in one of the above five ways, but we each tend to have a primary or preferred method. There is a quiz on his website that can help you determine your primary love language, and it ranks the strength of each of the others, according to your cumulative answers. However, some people may not find one clear preference standing above the rest, but perhaps two or three love expressions of equal or closely ranked importance.

Chapman further points out that everyone needs to receive emotional love, but the major key to how well this is accomplished is in how it’s delivered. We should not use the love languages that we like the most, but rather the love languages that are most important to our loved ones.

There are three ways to help discover your primary love language:

1. Observe how you naturally express your love to others. If you’re inclined to hug, then physical touch is a preference. Do you tend to verbalize your feelings, or show them through other actions? This can clue you in as to which of the five languages you favor.

2. Notice what you complain about to your partner. “You never give me gifts/never compliment me/never touch me unless I initiate it” may reveal your primary love language. Even if it’s not necessarily your main one, if you’re complaining, it’s up there.

3. Similar to #2, but stated more positively: Think about what you ask for the most. Do you need more cuddle time, more date nights, more verbal affirmations, or tokens of love from your partner? This determination can also help in discovering your primary expression.

It’s important to realize that knowing your own favorite love language(s) is only half the battle; you want to know your partner’s preferences as well. I recommend that couples take Chapman’s quiz individually, explore the three ways described above to help each identify his or her primary love language, and then compare the results. In order for each partner to feel loved, it’s important to make efforts that matter most to one another. In other words, direct most of your efforts at speaking your partner’s top one or two love languages.

Suggested steps to improve your relationship using the five love languages:

1. Take the quiz twice, answering once for you and once as you think your partner would, and have him or her do the same. (Answering for your partner will provide valuable information as to how far off, or close, you were to knowing what your partner prefers.) This could also provide interesting and beneficial info for future conversations, depending on the state of your connection. Remember that in addition to the quiz, some couples may need to reflect on the three ways discussed above, to help pinpoint their primary love language(s).

2. Discuss with your partner the specifics and details of speaking their primary love language. For example: What types of gifts are appreciated? Which acts of service really matter? What words of affirmation are most important? What kind of physical touch does your partner value the most?

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