Article by Chloe Spencer
Most of us would agree that love is the primary purpose of every human being on this Earth. Love is universal. But is love expressed the same by everybody?
Love is actually spoken in different languages. Dr. Gary Chapman, author of "The Five Love Languages", has identified the five universal love languages through years of study and counseling couples: Words of Affirmation, Physical Touch, Acts of Service, Receiving Gifts, and Quality Time.
Do you do the dishes for your partner but never feel appreciated because he or she never offers to do them? Maybe your partner buys you gifts instead. Or perhaps your partner feels you don't kiss or hug them enough, but you say "I love you" on a regular basis? We tend to express love in the ways we like to receive it...but your partner may express and want to receive love in a different way.
Everyone has a primary love language, while some may have two that are equally important. Many people will also have a secondary language; while not as important as your primary, it still ties into the way you show and need to receive love. The key to a successful relationship is discovering your love language as well as the languages of your loved ones. This applies to your partner, your children, your parents, other family members and your friends. Being aware of another's love language and vice versa can vastly improve your relationship with them, as you now know exactly how the other wants to be loved and can consciously express love in each other's languages.
So what do the love languages mean? Below is a short description of each love language from the 5lovelanguages.com website:
Words of Affirmation
Actions don’t always speak louder than words. If this is your love language, unsolicited compliments mean the world to you. Hearing the words, “I love you,” are important—hearing the reasons behind that love sends your spirits skyward. Insults can leave you shattered and are not easily forgotten.
A person whose primary language is Physical Touch is, not surprisingly, very touchy. Hugs, pats on the back, and thoughtful touches on the arm—they can all be ways to show excitement, concern, care, and love. Physical presence and accessibility are crucial, while neglect or abuse can be unforgivable and destructive.
Acts of Service
Can helping with homework really be an expression of love? Absolutely! Anything you do to ease the burden of responsibilities weighing on an “Acts of Service” person will speak volumes. The words he or she most wants to hear: “Let me do that for you.” Laziness, broken commitments, and making more work for them tell speakers of this language their feelings don’t matter.
Don’t mistake this love language for materialism; the receiver of gifts thrives on the love, thoughtfulness, and effort behind the gift. If you speak this language, the perfect gift or gesture shows that you are known, you are cared for, and you are prized above whatever was sacrificed to bring the gift to you. A missed birthday or a hasty, thoughtless gift would be disastrous—so would the absence of everyday gestures.
In Quality Time, nothing says “I love you” like full, undivided attention. Being there for this type of person is critical, but really being there—with the TV off, fork and knife down, and all chores and tasks on standby—makes you feel truly special and loved. Distractions, postponed activities, or the failure to listen can be especially hurtful.
So how do you tell which one is your primary language? Just think of it this way...if you were to largely decrease one of the love languages in a relationship, which would make you feel most un-loved? If he or she spent very little quality time with you? If he or she barely kissed or hugged you? If he or she hardly ever said "I love you" or other affectionate words? If he or she rarely did things for you such as chores around the house? If he or she never got you any gifts? For most people, one will stand out among the others as most important. Remember, this will also be the way you usually express love towards others. If you are having a hard time figuring it out, take the official quiz to find out what your love language is. If you can't tell which are your loved ones' languages, ask them to take the quiz too.
If one is speaking Spanish and the other is speaking French, while both is saying "I love you", neither can understand the other. It's not just about finding out another's love language, but making an effort to learn their language and speak it fluently to them. It will take time, since we are so used to expressing love in the ways we have naturally our whole lives. But every language can be learned.
Lasting love requires effort, patience and understanding. And most of all, realizing the other's happiness is just as important as your own. You should both feel equally loved by each other. The key is to first discover which love language you speak, so you may truly understand what love means to you. Once you understand how you perceive love from within, you can then understand what love means to those around you. The door is then opened to the greatest secret to love: loving another not how you want to love them, but in the way they want to be loved.