All About "Love Languages" And How You Can Use Them To Improve Your Marriage

According to this theory, every person expresses and experiences love in one of five basic ways.

By Caralynn Lippo, Purple Clover

Every relationship has its ups and downs, its peaks and its pitfalls. This is because, by nature, every single human interaction is complex. Each person is unique and communicates their wants and desires in their own particular way. Naturally, this leads to plenty of confusion, misunderstandings, and crossed wires.

But in a marriage, you've theoretically vowed to work through any and all problems together, til death do you part. For that reason, it's essential to constantly work on and improve your communication skills, in order to keep your relationship healthy and functioning. Learning all about love languages and how they function can help you do this.

Dr. Gary Chapman, a Baptist pastor, came up with the theory of "love languages." Dr. Chapman's concept is fairly straightforward: Within this theory, every single person expresses or receives loves in one of five ways.

While people can (and typically do) "communicate" their love in more than one of these "languages," according to Dr. Chapman, a person will typically have one language that's considered "primary."

Dr. Chapman has written about this concept in a series of books. The first, The Five Love Languages: How to Express Heartfelt Commitment to Your Mate, was published in 1992. It has since sold over 12 million copies worldwide and been translated into dozens of languages.

He went on to author books about this concept geared more specifically towards parents of kids and teens, single people, and men. He later also co-authored a version of the book applying his concept to work-based relationships (The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace) with Dr. Paul White.

While the concept of love languages can obviously be applied to many different types of relationships, it's particularly relevant to long-term relationships like marriages. By tailoring your communication style and manners of expressing love to what your spouse looks for in a loving relationship, you can more easily show your appreciation for and devotion to them — key ingredients in any long-lasting, successful union!

So what are the five love languages?

Continue clicking through to figure out how you can implement them in small but key ways to improve your marriage.

The first love language is "words of affirmation."

This is, quite simply, expressing your love verbally and with words that build up your partner rather than tearing them down. These don't necessarily need to be long and elaborate love letters; a few simple words of acknowledgment (regularly!) will suffice to make someone who communicates in this love language feel adored.

If you or your spouse feels most loved when they are explicitly told "I love you," this is likely the primary love language.

Any sincere compliment or words of affection would be appreciated by someone with this style. Specific affirmative comments are ideal as opposed to general statements. It can be as simple as saying "I appreciate that you did X" when your spouse does you a favor or remarking that you love their new haircut or outfit.

The second love language is "acts of service."

If your partner believes that "actions speak louder than words," this is likely their primary love language. As you might expect, communicating your love in this style means doing small things and favors that you know your spouse would appreciate.

Is there a specific chore you know your husband or wife absolutely hates? Taking that on for them every so often is a perfect way to express your love via acts of service.

This love language is all about figuring out the types of active things your partner appreciates. Whether it's bearing the burden of some responsibility, cooking them an elaborate breakfast in bed, or simply making their schedule a bit lighter, figure out what your partner would like taken off their plate.

And when in doubt, remember that it's OK to ask! The key here is to not begrudgingly do any of these acts of service — you'll need to assume the task with utmost positivity.

"Quality time" is the third love language, and the gist of it is giving your loved one your full and undivided attention for a period of time.

“This love language is about being together, fully present and engaged in the activity at hand, no matter how trivial," Dr. Chapman explains.

This love language is all about simply spending time with your spouse. Engaging in a meaningful activity together and communicating with one another is key here. You don't want to do something together just for the sake of doing it.

"Quality time" is just that — quality time. You'll want to arrange to do an activity that your "quality time"-loving partner enjoys. Perhaps set up a special date night activity for just the two of you. Put the phones away, turn the TV off, and simply focus on one another.

The next love language is "receiving gifts." But it's not just any gift — the person who operates primarily via this love language will understand your love for them when they receive a special, thoughtful present.

“The thing that works best is picking the right gift that shows you understand your partner and the effort you made to express love,” Dr. Chapman tells SheKnows. “Think about finding a gift that your partner has been asking for or would enjoy receiving and plan for a special way of giving it; make it a surprise.”

Within this love language, it's not about material goods — it's about the gesture and thought behind the gift. So if your partner is all about receiving gifts, it doesn't just mean they want you to throw money at them. Instead, the person who communicates love via gifting wants to know that you put time, effort, and contemplation behind finding the perfect gift that will make them happy.

With the perfect gift, your parnter will be able to hold a physical object in their hand and know that they were thought of or remembered. And every time they see it, they'll remember that love you expressed!

The fifth and final love language is "physical touch."

This doesn't necessarily mean sex, though, nor over-the-top public displays of affection. Simply holding hands, a peck on the cheek, or a quick hug on the way out the door to work will show this person you love them.

Again, this love language isn't necessarily about sex (though it certainly can be). This type of person appreciates forms of physical affection. Whatever that may be will depend on the specific person your husband or wife is.

Are they a hugger? A kisser? A hand-holder? Figure out what type of physical interaction your partner values and make a conscious effort to give them that more often. And it doesn't need to be exagerrated either.

“Be intentional about finding ways to express your love using physical touch: giving hugs, touching their arm or hand during a conversation; offer to give a neck or back rub,” Dr. Chapman told SheKnows.

When it comes down to it, the concept of love languages is all about learning what makes your spouse tick and tailoring your loving behavior towards their communication style. While this might be uncomfortable if you have opposing love languages, if your relationship is worth it to you, you'll make the effort to convey your love in the way that is most meaningful to your spouse.

“Love is the opposite of selfishness,” Dr. Chapman explained to the Salisbury Post. With that in mind, go forth and show appreciation for your spouse in a truly selfless, loving way!


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Love Magazine: All About "Love Languages" And How You Can Use Them To Improve Your Marriage
All About "Love Languages" And How You Can Use Them To Improve Your Marriage
According to this theory, every person expresses and experiences love in one of five basic ways.
Love Magazine
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