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From the time I was a little girl, my mom used to talk to me about love languages. She knew exactly what mine was as soon as I was old enough to talk. Whenever I had a story to tell her, I made her sit down with me so that I could have her undivided attention to talk with her. Days at home with mom were spent sitting together to watch a movie or reading a book together. Can you guess what my top love language is? Neediness? No. It’s Quality Time.
A love language is how an individual expresses and experiences love. Sometimes it’s really obvious what someone’s love language is. Maybe they are really affectionate through physical touch or they require a lot of verbal encouragement that seems to brighten their spirits. Have you ever given someone a gift and his or her response was lackluster? (Not a Gift Receiver) Other times, it’s not very easy to tell. If you don’t know yours, here is a quick quiz that will help you determine it. And while you’re at it, send the quiz to your significant other, child, or best friend. Wouldn’t it be great to have the secret ingredient to loving someone that is already really important in your life? Well this is pretty much the secret sauce. Okay let’s take a deeper look at the 5 different love languages and where they came from!
The 5 Love Languages
The 5 Love Languages were developed by Dr. Gary Chapman, a pastor, marriage counselor, and anthropologist, who has a heart for helping and healing people’s most important relationships. His literature outlines simple and practical ways of communicating love to others. The love languages are not scientifically backed, but they are relatable to humans because they are just common sense, logical, and pretty brilliant. Here are some more details about each love language from the results after I took my quiz:
- Quality Time – “In the vernacular of 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 your significant other feel truly special and loved. Distractions, postponed dates, or the failure to listen can be especially hurtful. Quality Time also means sharing quality conversation and quality activities.”
- 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. Kind, encouraging, and positive words are truly life-giving.”
- Acts of Service – “Can vacuuming the floors 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. Finding ways to serve speaks volumes to the recipient of these acts.”
- Physical Touch – “This language isn’t all about the bedroom. A person whose primary language is Physical Touch is, not surprisingly, very touchy. Hugs, pats on the back, holding hands, and thoughtful touches on the arm, shoulder, or face – 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. Physical touch fosters a sense of security and belonging in any relationship.”
- Receiving Gifts – “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, anniversary, or a hasty, thoughtless gift would be disastrous – so would the absence of everyday gestures. Gifts are visual representations of love and are treasured greatly.”
The Cam + Jo Love Language Story
I recently read that a dating relationship is like a car. When it’s new, everything works great, it’s all very exciting, and there’s nothing to worry about. But over time, you need to have continual check ups and inspections to make sure everything is running properly, fix what needs to be fixed, and sometimes get a new car if there is an un-salvageable issue. And most importantly, if you are filling your car with the wrong type of gas, it’s going to fail. WOAHHH brought it full circle! If you aren’t loving your partner the way they need to be loved, boom, gonna have to get a new car.
Cam and I saw this firsthand a few years ago when we were starting out on a long distance relationship after I graduated from college. I was feeling really empty and dejected because there’s not that much time for “quality time” when you’re 100 miles apart. Same with Cam, I couldn’t give him a hug or a kiss from across the state. Woof. Both of our top love languages are very much “in person” things.
Eventually we figured out through taking this quiz, the reason behind our struggles. In order to combat these rejected feelings, we began to prioritize weekends together and go no more than 2 weeks without seeing each other, we spent more time on Facetime having week night date nights, and emphasized our 2nd top love language during times apart. It’s not a foolproof, fix-all solution, but you can bet that when our communication is off or one of us is feeling down, we need to realign and love each other the right way.
What if your love languages are different from each other? Relationships are all about give and take, putting the other before yourself. Learn to give love in THEIR language, even if it’s a little less natural for you. And you’ll start to recognize that when they show you love through their own language, they really are trying 😉 It’s just not exactly the way you expect it.
How to Speak a New Language in Your Relationships
Here are a few tips for how to apply this knowledge to your own relationships, marriages, friendships, family, or co-workers. Please share your own ideas in the comments below!
Friendships, Family, & Co-Workers:
- Pay someone a compliment at work who is usually the one encouraging others. They likely value words very highly if they are using that language on others! (Words of Affirmation)
- Ask a friend if you can go grocery shopping with them or come over to help make dinner. (Quality Time & Acts of Service)
- Bake cookies for your office or organize an office event like a 5K or a lunch all together. (Receiving Gifts & Quality Time)
- Offer to babysit for a friend or family member. (Acts of Service)
- Write a letter to a friend going through a hard time. (Words of Affirmation)
- Put your arm around your parent or sibling and tell them how glad you are to see them. (Physical Touch & Words of Affirmation)
- Take a task or two off your co-workers plate if you know they are very busy. (Acts of Service)
Romantic Relationships & Marriages:
- Hold hands with your person even as you do mundane tasks like grocery shopping or random errands. (Physical Touch)
- Send an encouraging text message at the beginning of the workday to tell them how proud you are of them. (Words of Affirmation)
- If you have an especially busy week and no time for a date, sneak in a 30 minute coffee break together. (Quality Time)
- Ask your significant other to write out their grocery needs and go to the store for them while they do other things on their to-do list. (Acts of Service)
- Pick up a bouquet of flowers, frame your favorite picture, or bring home a souvenir from a business trip. (Receiving Gifts)
Set a goal to focus on your significant other’s love language for 3 solid weeks (maybe more). Journal about the changes that you see in your relationship. You can do the same with a difficult co-worker that you are trying to settle differences with or a family member that you can’t quite connect with. Love languages are not reserved for purely romantic relationships. When someone is feeling acknowledged, appreciated, and encouraged through their #1 love language, they will be overflowing with the grace to enrich all the relationships in their network.
Do you remember that Jesus’ greatest and most important commandment was that we would love Him and love others? What would living be without the opportunity to connect with others in deep and loving relationships? I want to be selfless, put others’ needs before my own, love people how they want to receive it, and have meaningful relationships because of that. Are you in? What’s your top love language and how have you seen the effects in your own life? How do you go out of your way to show love to others?
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