Years ago, when Dr. Gary Chapman penned the book The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love that Lasts, he proposed a very simple concept. Essentially, he says there are 5 ways people receive love: Words of Affirmation, Quality Time, Receiving Gifts, Acts of Service, and Physical Touch. Each person has 1-2 Love Languages, and those methods are the vehicles by which they feel most loved.
Interestingly, we tend to want to share our love in the same way we best receive love, and that’s fine if you and your spouse have the same primary Love Language. But what about when your Love Language is Words of Affirmation and your spouse’s is Physical Touch? Your words don’t speak to your spouse the way tickling them playfully in the kitchen while you’re prepping dinner would. And their need to sit next to you with their arm around you while watching tv night after night isn’t enough for you. You need them to occasionally use their words.
If you’ve never heard of the Love Languages, never read the book, or never sought to find out what your primary one is, set aside a few minutes and take this quick online quiz. Or, on a date night, take this couples quiz with your spouse. Don’t just choose one from the list of 5 and assume that fits you. Taking the quiz together will not only be helpful in objectively pinpointing your love language, but it will also be great conversation fodder if you take it with your spouse.
(Aside: It’s also a great idea to have your kids take the quiz. It helps you as parents to meet them where they are, too.)
If you don’t feel loved in the same way as your spouse, then it can seem a bit of a chore to express love to them in the way that they receive it best. (I tell you I love you all the time, babe! Isn’t that enough??) Part of the sanctification that comes with marriage is learning to die to self and to put others’ needs above our own. Whether you’re new to the Love Language concept or it’s something you’ve been aware of for a while, we’ve come up with a list of simple ideas to help you out as you seek to speak your spouse’s Love Language on a regular basis.
These ideas aren’t extraordinary, but that’s what we love about the concept. It’s just an overall awareness that we are different from our spouse, and it’s important to meet each others’ individual emotional needs. Hopefully these ideas are helpful reminders that, while outside of our norm, it doesn’t have to be difficult.
Words of Affirmation
- Compliment your spouse in front of other people and especially in front of your children.
- Compliment your spouse when he/she is not around. Word will get back to them.
- When your spouse is dealing with something, pray for them on the spot. Remind them of who they are in Christ and affirm how you’ve seen God using them in your life and others’ lives.
- Be sure to affirm your spouse in more than one area. Encourage their appearance, talents, strengths, and character.
- Send random texts letting your spouse know how much you love them.
- Write your spouse letters or leave cards for them letting them know all the things you love about them.
- Put your phone, electronics, or book down for a set period of time each day so you can connect with your spouse in conversation.
- Find a project to work on together with your spouse—landscaping, exercising, listening to an audio book together, etc.
- Go to bed with and/or wake up with your spouse. Show them you’re intentional about spending time with them even if it means you have to adjust your schedule.
- Run errands with your spouse instead of sending one person to do them.
- When you give your spouse your focused attention, include the kids but remember to exclude them from time to time so your spouse knows they are your first priority.
- Commit to trying out something that your spouse loves to do that you don’t—play golf, go antiquing, buy concert tickets, etc.
- Put alerts for special occasions on your phone and commemorate them in some way—cards, flowers, ornaments, tokens. Show your spouse you remember them.
- Bring home your spouse’s favorite snack or dessert. Show them that you listen to their desires.
- Most of the gifts you give will probably be given in private, but don’t forget to give them some gifts in public. Send them flowers at work, host a surprise birthday party for your spouse, invite a few friends to a low-key celebration for a work promotion, etc.
- When Receiving Gifts is a spouse’s Love Language, it doesn’t necessarily mean one spouse is spending a lot of money on presents for the other. Pick flowers on the side of the road, give a picture of a fun memory, or put a whimsical little bauble on the dashboard of their car—these kinds of things help your spouse to know they are appreciated, remembered, and loved.
Acts of Service
- Listen to the things your spouse tells you they have to do. Choose 1-2, as time allows, and surprise them by doing those things for them.
- Send your spouse a daily text knowing the things you prayed for them about.
- Allow your spouse the time for a workout or alone time at the local coffee shop.
- Plan a weekend away for your spouse and their friends. Take care of all the details from tickets to hotels to restaurant suggestions.
- Does your spouse have something big going on at work? Consider ways you can help serve them at home to alleviate some of the pressure. Can you organize files for them, help with a Power Point presentation, or just keep the coffee coming? Or drop off lunch to their office during a busy season.
- Consider trivial things that might slip your spouse’s mind. Set up birthday reminders on their phone, keep their favorite toiletries in full supply, make sure they never run out of clean underwear, etc.
- Learn to give your spouse a massage.
- Hold your spouse’s hands while praying.
- The misconception is that Physical Touch is all about sex. It’s not solely sexual—although that counts, too. Physical touch can be as simple as hugs, high fives, hand holding, kisses, touching your spouses head or hair, poking, tickling, pats, touches, and sitting close to them. Physical touch doesn’t have to be during a scheduled time each day. Work to make it a natural part of your daily interaction—while you’re getting dinner ready, loading kids in the car to go to church, grilling in the backyard, or sitting in your Sunday School class.