love

How to Put the 5 Love Languages to Work in Your Relationship Pt. 2

Photo by  Raw Pixel  on  Unsplash

Photo by Raw Pixel on Unsplash

The Season of Love is upon us!! Welcome back for Part II of the five Love Languages! Hopefully by now you have determined which Love Language both you and partner “speak” - if not, refer to Part I of this series, and follow the link to take the Love Language Quiz.

Was your Love Language what you expected? How about your partner? Reflecting on your past attempts to show love and affection: Have you been offering love and showing appreciation in the language that your partner identified as their Love Language? Has your partner been responding in their own Love Language, instead of in yours, or vice versa? Today is a new opportunity to commit to making a conscious effort to present your feelings of love to your partner in their identified Love Language and allowing your actions to capture the full magnitude of your affection.

To start off, how do you put these Love Languages into action? One of the best parts of Dr. Chapman’s Five Love Languages, is how simple each language really is. While grandiose gestures can be flattering, most relationships thrive on the smaller, everyday moments that build an overall sense of “we”, togetherness, and full understanding of one another in your relationship. For a quick refresher, see the basic qualities of each Love Language, below, taking special note of your Love Language, and that of your partner.

Words of Affirmation- Compliments, loving language and notes, verbal (and written) appreciation for partner

Acts of Service- Completing jobs and tasks that reduce the workload and burden on partner

Quality Time- Undivided attention; spending time to fully “be with” partner

Gifts- Whether bought or created, giving items to partner (this includes free items, such as a flower picked from the yard)

Physical Touch- Physical affection, not to be confused with sexual intimacy (which is desired in most romantic relationships), in which hand holding with partner, hugs and kisses, and activities such as a back rub

The basic qualities listed above make it easy to determine what actions you may want to take in order to show your partner love and affection; but what about actions you should avoid, and the best to way to communicate with them in general?

For those who “speak love” through Words of Affirmation, having a partner not appreciate effort or having a partner who is overly critical, can be overwhelming and hurtful. On the other hand, a partner who communicates through encouragement and appreciation, and empathizes while actively listening can be extremely affirming, and create an environment of unconditional love.

For those who seek love in the form of Acts of Service, they may be turned off by actions involving a lack of follow-through or commitment to see the job to the end, as well as being prioritized after other people. Instead, partners who try verbalizing a desire to help “lighten the load,” and offering to assist with chores send a clear message of love and togetherness.  

Quality Time sometimes gets overlooked, as most couples assume that “they spend lots of time together.” But for people whose Love Language is Quality Time, the keys are in the name: Quality - the time should be uninterrupted and free from distractions like cell phones and work; Time - going too long without one-on-one face time can be detrimental to the connection. Planning time to be together, actively communicating or participating in a desirable task, together, and creating an environment where each partner can fully focus on one another, strengthens relationships in which one or both partners’ Love Language is QT.  

Physical Touch is often misunderstood to solely focus on sex, however, the intention of all of the Love Languages is to build your connection with your partner, and as a byproduct, increase intimacy and foster a healthy sexual relationship. When a couple identifies Physical Touch as their Love Language, they are actually referring to the non-sexual physical affection of others. Keep in mind that any trauma history may overtly and covertly impact your, or your partner's, sense of safety and pleasure with physical touch and that consensual, respectful and mutually pleasurable physical affection is what we're talking about here.

Gift Giving, as described by Chapman, is the most simple of the Love Languages. Those whose partner’s preferred Love Language is Gift Giving will want to be sure to set reminders for important dates and think creatively about gifts. While we all occasionally forget birthdays and anniversaries, to someone who “speaks love” through Gift Giving it feels very personal and can drive a wedge in the relationship. Keep in mind, the monetary value of the item is not what is important, but instead, that the individual took the time to consider the person they are giving the gift to, and made the effort to obtain the item (whether that be creating a card or picture, throwing a surprise part, or purchasing a needed tool or accessory).

Remember - One of the biggest complaints that marriage therapists hear from couples who try Love Languages, is that one of the partners is “more committed” to following the Love Languages, than the other. Keep in mind that love is a choice. After the initial infatuation that goes along with a new relationship has faded, you are actively waking up each day and choosing to love and show love to your partner. How you do that is up to you, but if you have chosen this individual as someone you want to spend at least the foreseeable future with then it only makes sense that you would want to do what is best by them. In this case, that is presenting them your love in the way that they understand and feel most deeply. In most cases, the less enthusiastic partner feels more motivated to attempt Love Languages, once they feel the effect.

Since posting the first blog about this topic in January, I have noticed Love Languages popping up everywhere (kind of like getting a new car and then noticing everyone on the road is driving some version of that make/model)! In fact, I have had a hard time NOT seeing Love Languages all around me- ABC even dedicated an entire episode of Fresh Off the Boat to the idea of Love Languages! Board game makers are now including this premise in their toys, geared for kids and families. For example, while playing "Table Talks" with friends, it was hard not to see the connections between each of the "would you rather" style questions, and Dr. Chapman's Love Languages built into each of the options.

All that to say that Love Languages can be integrated into several aspects of your life, not only your romantic relationships! Dr. Chapman has expanded this idea of ways we show and feel love and appreciation to include teens, friends, and as a part of goal setting and dream building. By having a more clear understanding of your own Love Language, and those around you, you are able to show and receive love in a way that is more consistent, more impactful and more meaningful than ever before!


How to Put the 5 Love Languages to Work in Your Relationship

Photo by  Evan Kirby  on  Unsplash

Photo by Evan Kirby on Unsplash

January is a month of reflection. Let’s take a moment and consider your relationships… Are you feeling fulfilled and satisfied by your partner? What about your closest friendships? Do people around you swear that they are trying to please you, or show you love, but they are consistently missing the mark? What feedback have you been given? Have you found that you are consistently being asked to “do more” in your relationships, but are feeling unsure how to “give” anymore of yourself? As we move out of the holiday season and into the “season of love” (aka February), it is normal to begin to re-evaluate some of your relationships. For some, the holiday season is an opportunity for people in their life to “make up” for past wrongs and lackluster celebrations, often in the form of some grandiose gift or gesture. For many, that gift or gesture doesn’t meet the expectation, and then they are left with disappointment.

Enter Valentine’s Day: another opportunity for those close to us to show us love. But if they/we follow the same recipe from the holiday season, we are bound to fall short. Why are the efforts of those around us, as well as our own, not communicating the love and commitment that we are intending? In today’s blog (part 1 of 2), we are going to explore Dr. Chapman’s Five Love Languages, and how, even with your best effort, if you and your partner (or friend) are not speaking each other’s love language your (and their) communication of love is going to be seen as “not enough.”

So what is a “Love Language”? Essentially, Dr. Chapman, the author of The Five Love Languages, describes the way we show others love (and expect love to be shown in return), as our love language. Often times, people assume that the only way to display your love is to give a physical gift, but if everyone only utilizes gifts for love, there will be a lot of exhausted and unfulfilled couples. Understanding love languages gives couples, and relationships in general, an opportunity to thrive when the specific language of each individual is being “spoken” or met.

Imagine this: You come through the door at the end of a long day. What action from your partner would have the most impact on you?:

  1. They immediately tell you that you look great, and how important you are to the family unit (Words of Affirmation)

  2. They approach you, place your coat on the rack, and hand you a snack or meal (Acts of Service)

  3. They stop the task they are working on, sit with you, and engage in a full conversation about your day (Quality Time)

  4. They present you a card they have made with designs and funny sketches (Gifts)

  5. They approach you, give you a kiss and quick shoulder rub (Physical Touch)

While all of these options sound like a nice way to come home at the end of the day, not all of them are going to provide you with the same level of satisfaction and fulfillment. This is the idea behind The Five Love Languages. It is not that you or your partner are completely void of the need for any of the five languages, but instead, one or two love languages will have more value to you and to your partner. As you read the possible options, did any of them stick out to you as a way that you or your partner consistently attempt to show love? Consider all of the ways that you have reached out to increase closeness and intimacy with your partner, as well as some of the actions that they use to reciprocate that love. The best part of Love Languages is that they allow you to work smarter, not harder. If you knew how to make fewer, more personalized attempts at affection that would make a bigger impact and satisfy your partner more, would you?

Here is a breakdown of the Five Love Languages. As you read the descriptions, try to identify which one or two resonates most with you. Now consider which love language most closely matches the way you show your love and affection to your partner. Are they the same? Different? Take a moment to sit down with your partner, and go over the five languages in detail. Which Love Language do they most identify with? Have they been attempting to express themselves to you in a language other than your preferred Love Language?

Words of Affirmation - Compliments, loving language and notes, verbal (and written) appreciation for partner

Acts of Service - Completing jobs and tasks that reduce the workload and burden on partner

Quality Time - Undivided attention; spending time to fully be present with your partner

Gifts - Whether bought or created, giving items to your partner (this includes free items, such as a flower picked from the yard)

Physical Touch - Physical affection such as hand holding with your partner, giving them hugs, kisses, and back rubs (not to be confused with sexual intimacy, which is desired in most romantic relationships)

If you and/or your partner are struggling to narrow down a specific love language, I invite you to consider the most recent times you or your spouse “nagged” at one another. What was the topic of contention? Is one person feeling neglected, as if they are not getting enough “face time”? Or is someone looking for more help with tasks around the house? Whoever was doing the “nagging” is likely feeling as though their love language is not being spoken in the relationship, and the complaints that they have expressed in the past are great insight into what needs are not being met for that individual. If you find that you and your partner are still struggling to decide which love language best suits each of you, or you have several that seem like they may be good fits, I encourage you to take the Love Languages Quiz on Dr. Chapman’s website. As you answer the questions, remember that you want to choose the one that you MOST prefer, although both options may feel like acceptable choices. When finished with the quiz, calculate the results (instructions are at the bottom of the quiz), and determine which language best suits both you and your partner!

**Note: You and your partner may have different Love Languages, and that is okay! Keep in mind that Love Languages is not a matter of compatibility. Every relationship has the option to evolve and adapt with the identification and implementation of the Love Languages Principles

Now that you have identified your Love Language, join me for Part 2 of the Love Languages series to find out how to apply that information into meaningful actions!

LoveTip: The Relationship Tango

Photo by  Tim Gouw  on  Unsplash

Photo by Tim Gouw on Unsplash

No matter how you look at them, relationships can be tough.  Bringing two or more people together into an emotional dance can cause confusion, insecurity, and feelings of instability.  It is within these feelings of "yuck" that resentment can set in and defenses begin to build.


The million-dollar question that I'm often asked is, "should I really stay in this relationship?"  As easy as it may be to give a simple 'yes' or 'no' answer, the solution is rarely that cut and dried.  At the risk of sounding too therapist-like, I'll state that the answer is not always as important as the journey to find that answer.  This is your chance to start looking within and exploring what's working well and what's not working so well.

Check out my latest blog post and read more about turning that disjointed square dance back into a graceful tango.

LoveTip: Rethinking Infidelity

When we talk about infidelity, chances are you have a strong, even visceral, response. Esther Perel challenges us to rethink these gut reactions and redefine what we think we know about infidelity and, by extension, about the fundamentals of relationship. In this TedTalk, Esther Perel explores the changing climate of infidelity in the age of social media and our instant ability to connect with others without even leaving our home. Put plainly, “It’s never been easier to cheat, and it’s never been more difficult to keep a secret.”

Giving the transformation of modern marriage historical context, she discusses the traumatic impact that today’s infidelity can have on a marriage due to the foundation of modern marriage being built on love & compatibility more than ever before. With that comes the unattainable expectation we put on our partners to be our lover, best friend, soul mate, intellectual inspiration and solver of all problems. Imagine trying to achieve all of those things at once while still maintaining your individuality? Not possible right? Thus, today’s infidelity doesn’t just threaten the relationship, it threatens our entire sense of self.

Does that mean the damage and traumatic backlash of infidelity is insurmountable? Certainly not. In fact, her research debunks several age old myths and addresses questions like “Why do loving and committed partners cheat?” Perel suggests that affairs are often more about desire than sex, and concludes that marriages can heal from infidelity and can actually be more fulfilling, passionate and healthy than ever before. In this video, she also shares some concrete steps couples can take after an affair is exposed. Perel’s work reminds us that our relationships are as multifaceted and fluid as we are as she challenges us to take an earnest look at love, desire, commitment and the expectations we use to define ourselves and our partners.

For more information on Esther Perel, visit her website.