Relationships take a lot of work. And most people do not have the tools to make them last. There are several factors that can cause a breakdown in a relationship, such as infidelity, or complacency, but what this really comes down to is a lack of understanding of your partner’s love language. Gary Chapman, a pastor and marriage counsellor, originally wrote about love languages in the 90s, where in his book he stressed the importance of being able to speak the love language of your partner. Despite being some time ago, his theory on using this to make relationships last remains relevant and continues to see success today.
What is a Love Language?
Just like our regular language, our love language is a tool for communication, allowing us to express how we give and receive love. Using language as a comparison, we all have one language that is our native language. If I only speak English and my partner only speaks Japanese, then no matter how hard I try to express my love in English, my partner will struggle to understand me. The same principle applies with love languages. Hence, it is important to be able to speak the love language of your partner, to ensure a long-lasting relationship.
Words of Affirmation
Those whose primary love language is words of affirmation enjoy giving and receiving compliments. The platform you use to communicate this can be anything from in person, to a text, or even in a letter — each will go a long way. However, the point is to encourage your partner so that they feel loved, and not to compliment them for your personal gain. When we receive kind words, we are more likely to be motivated and will want to reciprocate that love. Below is a summary of things that you should do or avoid if your partner’s love language is words of affirmation:
- DO — encourage your partner genuinely and often. Give your partner a different compliment every day, such as ‘I appreciate what you’re doing’ or ‘that dish you made yesterday was so good’. Compliment them in their presence but also behind their back. If expressing words is not one of your strengths, then you might want to practise in front of a mirror.
- DO NOT — criticise your partner in a non-constructive way. Non-constructive criticism will be extremely discouraging towards your partner and shows a lack of appreciation or recognition of your partner’s efforts.
When we are getting to know our partner for the first time, we often dedicate a lot of our time and attention to them. The same attitude needs to be applied throughout the entire relationship. If your partner’s love language is quality time, then make sure when you do choose to spend time with them then you give them your undivided attention — perhaps put that phone away for a while. Spending time together shows you care and enjoy being with them. You can be close together in proximity but far apart emotionally. Quality over quantity is what matters. Here are some actions to take:
- DO — Spend one-on-one time together. Have quality conversations where you are fully focussed and maintain eye contact, listen and ask questions. Ask them random things about their childhood. If they are having problems, ask them how they feel about it. Find things to do together like planning a weekend away together or going for a walk. And if you have children, play games together. Also remember that it is important you are talking during these activities.
- DO NOT — waste precious time by being distracted with your phone or the TV. When your partner is talking, listen and do not try to solve their problems! What your partner really needs is support and understanding. Only give your advice if they ask for it.
The custom of gift-giving is seen across many cultures around the world. It is the most common and easiest language to learn. Giving gifts shows that you are thinking of them. The gift does not have to be expensive. It is the thought that counts. However, if your partner is going through some problems, the best gift you can give her is your physical presence. Below are things to do if your partner’s love language is receiving gifts:
- DO — Give thoughtful gifts or gestures. Think about the time your partner expressed excitement over any particular gifts they received in the past. Or perhaps, they saw something and mentioned it to you while you were browsing some shops. If nothing comes to mind, then you need to ask friends or family who might have an idea. If you are the one receiving a gift, then express genuine gratitude.
- DO NOT — wait for a special occasion to give a gift. Gifts can be given any time and shows that you think about your partner all the time. That being said, do not forget special occasions, such as birthdays or anniversaries. Forgetting such occasions will make your partner think that you do not value them. Lastly, do not unenthusiastically give gifts.
Acts of Service
With this love language your partner will feel loved and appreciated when you do nice things for them. Like with the other love languages, it does not have to be a big gesture but instead, can be doing little chores around the house, such as taking the rubbish out, or doing the laundry. Gender stereotypes go out the window here if you want to make your relationship last. The more you help and do things for your partner, the more time you will have together. Make sure you:
- DO — chores together. This can make it fun and also save time. Go out of your way to alleviate their daily workload. This is particularly important if you have children. Ask your partner about things that they would like to get done. Make a list so that you know for next time, and won’t have to ask them. This will show that you listened and that you care.
- DO NOT — make the requests of others a priority. If your friend asks you to drop them off at the airport, but your partner needs something done, then prioritising your friend may make your partner feel unloved. If acts of service are your love language, then do not nag your partner, but ask them nicely to get things done.
Like receiving gifts, physical touch is another very common love language. It has long been argued that babies who receive physical affection from their parents develop a healthier attachment. As with adults, physical touch can make or break a relationship, and can communicate love or hate. Physical touch can be both explicit, in that it takes up time (intercourse or a massage) or implicit, meaning it is something brief (a kiss goodbye or a hug). Both mean a lot to your partner if their love language is physical touch. Ensure you:
- DO — regularly display physical affection with your partner. Hug them, hold hands, give them a back rub. Words may not have the same weight to your partner, but physical touching communicates that you care. That is why when someone is crying, you cannot help but hug them or put an arm around their shoulder without saying anything.
- DO NOT — give or receive physical touch coldly. This makes your partner feel unwanted and unfortunately, since physical touching is very easy to do, they may seek this somewhere else.
It is important to know both yours and your partner’s love language and then communicate this with them. If you don’t know what your love language is, you can find out here. By understanding other love languages, you will reap the benefits. Firstly, there will be a great increase in communication, since you both understand what you want. Thus, you will build on your connection and grow closer. You will also start to appreciate the effort that your partner puts into the relationship if they learn how they show their love. Lastly, it can prevent the aforementioned problems that are common causes of a breakup, such as poor communication or infidelity. Learning about love languages is the key to a long-lasting relationship.
Written by Phi Minh Duong
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