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Alexander has been contributing for THS for over a year! While he attained a major in communications at SFU, he also recieved a minor in Psychology. Despite those accomplishments, Alex has also never had a full cup of coffee (crazy right?!). Alex is a lifelong sports fan and will defend his Seattle Seahawks to the death, especially if faced against a 49er fan. While Alex's long-term goal is to become a marriage counsellor, he also has a strong passion towards writing that he looks forward to exploring.

Keeping the Flames Alive: Exploring the Five Languages of Love

Image Credit: Gary Chapman/5 Love Languages

There is no universal way to show someone how you love them. While some people may love a grand spectacle, others may enjoy their love being expressed in more subdued ways. Some people use their words, while others prefer to show love through their actions. No matter how you express your love, the importance is that you are able to connect with your partner. Dr. Gary Chapman, a marriage counselor for the past 30 years, has recently written about the “5 Languages of Love. Chapman puts a focus on how we express love, and how that love is best communicated to your partner. These five languages will be elaborated on, and in the process can help to further explain the importance of understanding your partner’s love language. 

As you gain experience with your partner and dating, you will learn your preferred ways for love to be expressed. Regardless of how your past relationships were, it is no guarantee that love will be expressed in a similar way with your new partner. Every relationship is different and it is with communication that you and your new partner can find your dynamic. You and your old partner may have expressed love through physical gifts, but your new partner stresses verbal affection. That does not make either of the relationships better, but it does point out two different ways that love can be shown. It is important not to feel like there is only one universal way to show affection for your partner.

If you and your partner are going through a difficult time, looking at different ways to express love could be crucial in making your relationship seem worthwhile. It is through an active effort that you and your partner can experience the different languages of love and learn your preferred way to communicate.  

Photo Credit: Twila Breukelman

Photo Credit: Twila Breukelman

The first form of affection mentioned by Chapman is “Words of Affirmation.” Words of affirmation can be manifested when your partner verbally acknowledges your assistance. This language can also play a role when you compliment your partner, or try and express with words how you love them. If you do something like cooking dinner, a partner may use this as an opportunity to verbally praise their partner. When your partner is having a tough day, they can think back to the words you have said to make her feel supported and loved in the past. No task is too large, if you know your partner actively makes an effort to show they are appreciated. By putting in the effort to say ‘thank you, that was a great dinner’, you are reaffirming to your partner that they add value to your life.

Words of affirmation can be used alongside four other love languages. While some people may be uncomfortable verbalizing their words, the second language that Chapman discusses is “Acts of Service.” This language proves actions speak louder than words with individuals physically doing something for their partner. You can say ‘I love you’ a hundred times, but if it is never followed up by any physical actions, it may leave your partner finding those words hollow. By doing something like washing the dishes for your partner or cleaning up for them, you may be expressing acts of service that express love even if it is in a different way than using words of affirmation.

If you want a more permanent reminder of your love, you may start engaging in the language of “Receiving Gifts.” Physical gifts can be a fantastic reminder of love. By giving your partner a picture that you guys see every day, it works as visual reminder of your love for one another. If you are able to pick out items that are important to your partner, it can also show a great degree of thoughtfulness. Those receiving the gifts can reciprocate in a variety of ways and hopefully keep the language of love going.

As adults get older and responsibilities increase, the amount of time you spend with your partner may go down. When you do have time together, it is important for many relationships that the language of “Quality Time” should not go out the window. Use the time together as something precious and make the most of it. If you and your partner want to watch Netflix, I am all for that once in a while. But also keep in mind that your relationship can benefit from a quality date night. It is not the activity that matters, but instead the thought process that you had a date night all about your relationship. It is easy to become complacent when relationships get older, but it is with an active effort that your time together can still be quality.

The last language of love is “Physical Touch.” For many relationships, especially people who are married, the sexual enthusiasm may not be as prominent as it once was. You may have already had your kids, or you might not feel like sex or being intimate is worth the effort. Yet that physical touch, be it sex or a good cuddle, creates an important level of intimacy with your partner. Without any physical touch your relationship may feel more like room-mates and less like lovers. In addition, physical touch also becomes important in keeping your spouse’s self-esteem higher. Nobody likes to feel like they are not attractive or that intimacy is not worth the effort. By becoming actively aware of the importance of physical contact, then you can also be aware that it will not fall off the table over time.

Relationships can take a lot of work. As your love for your partner deepens, you will hopefully be getting a better assessment on how to communicate your love. It can be frustrating to feel like your partner does not care or put in the effort. It can also be frustrating to put in the effort and not have your efforts properly resonate with your partner because you two are speaking different languages. By knowing their ideal love language, and putting in the effort, it is hopeful that your relationship will continue to grow and reduce the amount of miscommunication.

It is easy to get into a pattern and only have love represent itself in one way and forget that it may take a utilization of different techniques to make your partner feel loved. The love that you express at 18-years-old may also be different than how you like to express love at 25-years-old, and as a result your love language may change. What is important is that you know the best ways to help yourself, and your partner and are not afraid to try different techniques.

There is no one way to love someone, but there is also no shortage of ways to try.

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For more information on Dr. Gary Chapman and his 5 Love Languages, visit him at his official websiteTwitter, Facebook, and listen to his podcasts.

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