With Valentine’s Day quickly approaching, I thought it would be a good time to share with you a valuable concept and resource that my wife and I have greatly benefited from. This resource/concept is the “Five Love Languages” by Dr. Gary Chapman. In Dr. Chapman’s book, he explains that every person has unique ways in which they feel most loved and appreciated. My wife and I had read this book early on in our marriage, and we have found this tool to be extremely helpful. I hope that as you are thinking of meaningful ways that you can show love to your partner this Valentine’s Day, this resource will be beneficial to you as well.
In Dr. Chapman’s book, he shares with the readers 5 languages that are universal, yet distinctive. Often, when we try to show love to our partner, we do so in a way that is meaningful to us. He notes that our understanding of what love means is derived from our own needs, from our upbringing, and from the experiences that we have encountered. As you can guess, when we are trying to speak in a language of love that is unfamiliar to our partner’s, then the message is not likely to come across as intended. This can lead to couples feeling misunderstood and frustrated with their unappreciated efforts. However, when couples learn to speak the language of their partner, then something beautiful can take place. The deeper that a man and woman can go to understand and care for the needs of each other, the deeper their love for each other will be also.
So, what are the 5 Love Languages? I’m glad you asked. Dr. Chapman has titled the 5 languages: 1) Words of Affirmation, 2) Acts of Service, 3) Receiving Gifts, 4) Quality Time, and 5) Physical Touch.
- Dr. Chapman describes Words of Affirmation as the use of “words to affirm other people.” This language is all about being attentive to opportunities to compliment our partner and to lavish them with words of encouragement.
- Dr. Chapman states that the motto behind of Acts of Service is “actions speak louder than words.” Doing meaningful things for our partner that requires time and effort is a great way to speak this language to them. If you are constantly finding yourself with a “honey do list” then there is a good chance that she is speaking this language with you.
- Dr. Chapman shares that, for people that speak the language of Receiving Gifts, “what makes them feel most loved is to receive a gift.” Special note for this language- giving a gift does not always mean that a fortune must be spent for it to be meaningful. On the contrary, some of the best gifts are done so through personal sacrifice rather than by depleting one’s wallet.
- Dr. Chapman offers that Quality Time “is all about giving the other person your attention.” Let me add that it is crucial that we give our partner our undivided attention. That means we can’t be showing love to our partner while we are being distracted by other things, such as a T.V., phone, or even our own thoughts.
- Dr. Chapman says of the love language, Physical Touch, “nothing speaks more deeply than appropriate touch.” Appropriate is the key word here. To someone that speaks this love language, respecting boundaries and being mindful of the physical needs/desires of others is of most importance.
Now that you have a brief description of what the 5 Love Languages are, permit me to share why I believe that this tool is so important. As some of you may know, my wife and I recently celebrated our 10 year anniversary in December 2020. When we first got married, we had no idea how to care for each other meaningfully. Sure, we had made it through the “puppy love” stage where we could do no wrong in each other’s eyes. But, once that time passed, we had to learn to effectively communicate with each other. For myself, I find myself speaking a hybrid of Physical Touch and Words of Affirmation (with a slight lean more toward the latter). Heather, my wife, on the other hand, is all about Acts of Service and Quality Time. If it isn’t yet obvious- we don’t speak the same languages! It has been a long, rocky road getting to a place where we have learned to understand and love each other well. Even now, we still need to stop for a moment and ask ourselves, “am I speaking my language or my partner’s?” When we do it right, it’s like witnessing an elaborate painting unfold before our eyes. When we forget to show love in a way that is meaningful to each other, it’s like watching two goobers trying to keep off each other’s feet at a high school dance. Learning to speak the language of our partner is the key to entering their heart.
I encourage you that, as you approach this Valentine’s Day, you will heavily consider what your partner might need to feel most loved. Remember that there is a possibility that you do not speak the same Love Language as she does. This is a great time to ask ourselves, “when are times in the past that my partner has said she has felt most loved?” She might even appreciate if you go up to her and ask, “what would make you feel most loved this Valentine’s Day?” You may be surprised how she answers. Thanks for letting me share a valuable tool with you this week. Be sure to share down in the comments any stories that you might have when using the Five Love Languages this Valentine’s Day. If you would like to learn more about Dr. Gary Chapman’s book or explore his website, click here: 5lovelanguages.com
PS- Let’s keep the focus on speaking our partner’s language this Valentine’s Day instead of trying to get our own needs met.
Brian Faust is the Fatherhood Program Coordinator of Rock Solid Fatherhood in Warsaw, IN. He is the husband of the world’s best wife and father of three beautiful girls. He has nearly a decade of mentorship and mental health experience. Brian has a Bachelor’s in Psychology and a Masters in Clinical Mental Health Counseling from Grace College. It is his desire to come alongside men of all walks of life as they embrace their role as partner and father with rock solid strength.