Written by: Ashlee Wong, MA
What is your love language? The chances are high that not only do you know what I’m talking about but you already have an answer. For those who haven’t heard of a love language, Dr. Gary Chapman identified 5 common ways we give and receive love to help us better understand our friends, family, and partners. The 5 love languages are acts of service, gift giving, quality time, words of affirmation, and physical touch. All of these 5 languages are necessary for the survival of any relationship and we should strive to make use of all of them as we interact with our loved ones. However, typically we all gravitate towards one or two as our primary way to receive love.
In Dr. Chapman’s use of the 5 love languages, there can be a significant difference between how we receive love and how we should give love to our partner. This communication of wants and needs is a valuable piece to using the 5 love languages in the treatment of couples. Let’s imagine that Partner A’s primary love language is acts of service while Partner B’s love language is words of affirmations. If Partner A assumes that their partner receives love like they do, they will likely perform acts of service for their partner unaware that Partner B might not recognize this as love. Similarly, if Partner B verbalizes their love or compliments Partner A on a frequent basis, Partner A might feel flattered for a time. However, Dr. Chapman predicts that it will ultimately feel unfulfilling because it does not make as much of an impact on our “love tank” as a demonstration in the language we know best.
If you’ve thought about your relationship and have seen that you and your partner have different expressions of love, that’s normal. The goal to incorporating love languages in your relationship isn’t to necessarily find someone who receives love the same way you do. The goal is to communicate your needs to the other person so they have the chance to adapt and also for you to make compromises in return. Even making an effort to recognize when your partner uses their own love language to show you love makes a significant difference to reduce the amount of hurt from mismatched attempts at expressing how we feel about our partners. True incompatibility only happens when we know the opportunity for change exists but choose not to put in the effort.
Written by: ASHLEE WONG, MA, Registered Associate Marriage and Family Therapist 103135. Supervised by Dr. Joselyn Josephine Ayala-Encalada Psy.D., Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist 96987