Relationships and dating change over time. Whether you have been married for 30 years, are newlyweds, or are dating, communication is critical to relationship health and happiness. Communication difficulties are the number one cited cause of divorce.
Often, lack of communication leads to resentment and arguing in a relationship. People change over time, and as you reach your middle years, personal goals and priorities are bound to have changed. Physical and hormonal changes are also coming into play. Maintaining communication with your partner is essential. Of course, talking isn't enough. Knowing how to communicate and meet your partner's needs is the key to success. One of the best ways to express and deepen your connection with your partner is by speaking their love language.
The Five Love Languages Explained
Gary Chapman originally introduced the five love languages in his book, The Five Love Languages: How to Express Heartfelt Commitment to Your Mate. The book outlined five ways romantic partners express and experience love, and according to Chapman, each person has one primary and one secondary love language.
- Words of Affirmation: Individuals with this love language crave verbal connection. They enjoy spoken appreciation, compliments, and encouragement. On the other hand, these people are especially sensitive to criticism, insults, and cruel words.
- Quality Time: Those with the quality time love language want their partner to make time for them. They like to feel like time together is a priority. The time can be anything from cooking together to a night out, but it should be free of distractions.
- Receiving Gifts: Those who experience and express love through gifts put a lot of thought into the gifts they give. They put thought and time into their gifts and want the same in return. These individuals will likely remember and cherish all gifts they receive because they represent love and care.
- Acts of Service: Those with this love language appreciate when their partner performs kind or helpful gestures. The acts could be as simple as scraping ice off of a windshield or taking on the cooking for a week.
- Physical Touch: Healthy relationships involve physical intimacy, but those whose love language is physical touch crave touch more than others. They enjoy holding hands, cuddling, or getting a massage. Physically touching their partner enhances their feelings of love and connection.
Discovering Your Own Love Languages
If you don't know or are confused about your love languages, there are some questions you can ask yourself to help you determine them.
- Think about times when you felt most loved by your partner. What did your partner do to make you feel that way?
- What do you wish your partner would do more frequently?
- What are some common requests you ask of your partner?
- How do you express your love?
- What are things you do for your partner to show you care?
Identifying Your Partner's Love Languages
Determining your partner's love languages is just as important as discovering your own. Knowing how to make your partner feel loved, appreciated, and connected is vital for a happy relationship. If you need to figure out what your partner's love languages are, there are a couple of things you can do.
- Consider how your partner shows you they care. Often, we display love and affection using our own love language. For example, if your partner always compliments you, their love language is likely words of affirmation. If your partner spends a lot of time and effort choosing the gifts they give to you and other loved ones, their love language is most likely receiving gifts.
- Have an open discussion with your partner. Ask them directly what makes them feel loved and appreciated. Although this option might seem overly simplistic, direct communication is often the best method.
Bridging Different Love Languages
It is not unusual for couples to experience and crave love in different ways. Although this can lead to misunderstanding, knowledge is crucial. Once you have identified your love languages, discuss how to meet each other's needs. Here are some tips on bridging the different love languages in your relationship:
- Make sure you are always practicing mutual respect. Never belittle your partner's love language or invalidate their feelings.
- Keep an open dialogue to ensure you are always on the same page.
- Make an effort to speak your partner's love language. Little steps like taking the dog out in the morning can make a huge difference in how appreciated your partner feels.
- Acknowledge when your partner makes an effort to speak your love language.
Nurturing Your Relationship Through Understanding Love Languages
All relationships require time, effort, and the ability to adapt. Understanding your and your partner's love languages can help you nurture your relationship so that it can flourish. Of course, change doesn't happen overnight, and sometimes, adjustments are necessary. That is why it is important to regularly sit down and talk about how you both feel the relationship is going, what is working, and what needs reevaluation. Here are some tips to continually nurture your relationship using the five love languages:
- Schedule a relationship check-in. This is a dedicated time you and your partner set aside to discuss where you are in your relationship. It can be weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly, but consistency is essential.
- Be open-minded and receptive to what your partner says, even if it is sometimes hard to hear. Do your best to avoid being defensive.
- Express and listen to how you both feel using the love languages is going. If something needs to be reevaluated or tweaked, do so.
- Be patient. Remember, change takes time, and no one is perfect.
- Take time to express what is going on beneath the surface with you. If you are experiencing emotional or physical change talk about it with your partner.
- Make sure to celebrate your partner! Don't let life milestones like birthdays and anniversaries go uncelebrated. Celebrate when your partner is successful at work or has another achievement. Take a moment to appreciate the quiet moments. Life is a gift meant to be celebrated, and so is your relationship. Don't let celebratory moments pass you by.
Understanding love languages can be incredibly beneficial to relationships. Especially as we age and hormones change, connections can seem easier to take for granted. Learning how you and your partner like to give and receive love can strengthen your relationship and deepen your intimacy.