THE LANGUAGE OF LOVE
Dr Gary Chapman has some great relationship advice to make love last
No, we’re not talking about French! Couples counsellor Dr Gary Chapman has discovered the five ways in which couples express their love for one another. Read on to learn what makes your partner tick – and how to hold on to that loved-up feeling.
Right now, your mind must be swirling with dresses, menu plans, guest lists, potential disasters, and the favour boxes that you must not forget to pick up tomorrow after work! With all the things you need to plan for, it’s easy to lose sight of what it’s really all about: your relationship.
First published in 1992, Dr Gary Chapman’s overwhelmingly popular The Five Love Languages: How to Express Heartfelt Commitment to Your Mate is a perennial New York Times bestseller. Many couples have sought Gary’s guidance, and over the years he noticed a pattern in their conflicts. Looking back at notes he’d made over more than a decade, he identified five different ways in which people express love. He believes that each of us has a primary love language – a distinct way in which we most often express love to others, and also a way in which we would like others to express love to us. See if you can spot yours:
THE 5 LOVE LANGUAGES Words of affirmation
We all know the adage ‘actions speak louder than words’, but this isn’t the case with a person who communicates with this love language. They need to hear you verbalise how you feel, and what you love about them. ‘If this is your love language, unsolicited compliments mean the world to you,’ says Gary. ‘Hearing the words “I love you” is important – hearing the reasons behind that love sends your spirits skyward. Insults can leave you shattered and are not easily forgotten.’ This person enjoys being paid compliments, and receiving acknowledgment for the things they’ve done, e.g. a meal they’ve cooked, or the way they handled a certain situation.
If this is your love language, you enjoy having your significant other’s undivided attention. Time spent together with no
distractions makes you feel special and loved. If your partner cancels a date, doesn’t seem to be listening to you or spends too much time on their phone while you’re together, someone who values Quality Time will be especially hurt and dejected.
It sounds a bit superficial, but Gary insists that this love language must not be mistaken for materialism. If this is your love language, you appreciate the thought that went into the gift; it really thrills you when your partner or friend took the time in their busy day to think of you. ‘A missed birthday, anniversary, or a hasty, thoughtless gift would be disastrous – so would the absence of everyday gestures,’ says Gary.
Acts of service
‘Anything you do to ease the burden of responsibilities weighing on an Acts of Service person will speak volumes,’ says Gary. If this is you, it means a lot to you if your partner or someone in your life notices the pressure you are under and steps in to relieve some of that pressure. If your partner doesn’t help out – or, worse – makes more work for you, this tells you that they don’t care about your feelings.
Don’t jump to conclusions – this one isn’t just about sex. For a Physical Touch person, handholding, hugs and kisses and thoughtful caresses on the arm or face make them feel close to their loved one. This one is backed up by science: thanks to neuroscientist Edmund Rolls, we know that touch activates the brain’s orbitofrontal cortex, which is connected to feelings of reward and compassion. Studies have also shown that touch soothes, builds up cooperative relationships, calms cardiovascular stress and signals safety and trust. Plus, touch can trigger the release of oxytocin, known as ‘the love hormone,’ helping you bond and cultivating feelings of connectedness.
LOST IN TRANSLATION
According to Gary, love is frequently lost in translation, as we often choose someone who is our opposite. ‘In a marriage, almost never do a husband and wife have the same language,’ he says. ‘The key is we have to learn to speak the language of the other person.’
Struggling to identify your love language?
Think about how you express love – what you give is often what you crave, says Gary. Perhaps you’re always doing things around the house; washing the dishes, helping to track down missing items when he’s in a panic, and assisting your partner in any way you can. He, meanwhile, expresses his love by spending quality time with you. The result? You feel resentful because he never helps out around the house, and he feels that you never take the time to just sit with him and have a conversation. Even though both of you are expressing love, both of you feel unloved, as you’re not speaking each other’s love language. The second clue: think about what you ask your partner for the most. ‘We often get defensive when our spouse complains, but they’re really giving us valuable information,’ Chapman says. Do you take his hand when you’re walking together, or ask him for backrubs? You are asking for physical touch. Understanding how your partner experiences love is not a cure-all for every relationship problem. It does, however, lead to a deeper understanding of one another, and can help you avoid future conflict. It can also help you transition from the initial ‘in love’ feeling to a more intentional type of love, that you have to work at.
Studies have also shown that touch soothes, builds up cooperative relationships, calms cardiovascular stress and signals safety and trust.