Are you speaking the right love language

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Every day your partner says he loves you as he gives a kiss on the cheek before heading to work. When he arrives home, the first thing he does is hug you and say hello, again kissing you on the cheek before putting his things away.

Then he changes his clothes, heads into the home office, and doesn’t come out until dinner time. Then it’s right back to the office, where he will spend the next two hours watching TV before finally coming to bed.

You feel isolated and alone, like you are two strangers sharing the house. You know he says he loves you, but it feels like some routine he is following. If he loved you, why wouldn’t he want to spend more time with you? Or why wouldn’t he help pick up the dinner plates and wash dishes with you?

Perhaps it is not whether your Significant Other loves you, but whether the two of you are speaking the same love language.

How you express and receive love is your love language

In 1995, author Gary Chapman released the book The Five Love Languages: How to Express Heartfelt Commitment to Your Mate, in which he outlines five ways to express and receive love.

These love languages include:

  • Acts of Service
  • Receiving Gifts
  • Quality Time
  • Physical Touch
  • Words of Affirmation

According to Chapman, everyone has a primary love language in which we prefer to communicate and receive love. For me, it's Acts of Service.

When I want to express my love, I will do so by making someone their favorite meal, finish their dreaded chore, or set up a trip to their favorite city. This is also how I recognize expressions of love. When someone goes out of his or her way to wash my car or finish the laundry that I had started, I feel loved.

Now, if my Significant Other’s primary love language is Receiving Gifts, we could have a disaster on our hands. (I scored lowest on this language)

You must speak your significant other’s love language

Let’s consider this scenario.

Your primary love language is Acts of Service. Your partner’s is Receiving Gifts.

It has been a busy, frantic week and you are about to explode from stress. If one more person asks you for help on something, you will likely pack up and move to Fiji without a word of good-bye.

The house is a pit and you haven’t eaten a healthy meal all week. You know the kids need help on their homework, the dog needs groomed, and you are out of clean underwear.

You have shared with your S.O. how exhausted and stressed you are each night as you fall into bed. All you want is for him to cook tomorrow’s dinner, clean up the kitchen, and drop the dog off at the groomers. If he loved you, he would know this, right?

Instead, you walk in the door the next night to find a huge bouquet of flowers and a box of your favorite chocolates. Sitting right next to the overflowing sink and basket of dirty laundry.

And he is standing there smiling, waiting for the giant sigh of love and the enormous hug.

Now, let’s flip this.

Your S.O. has been struggling at work. He was denied a promotion after 15 years of quality service to his employer. After long workdays, he heads to the soccer field to coach your youngest daughter’s soccer team. He spends the rest of his evening catching up on work emails in the hopes that his boss will see how dedicated he is.

Your anniversary is coming up and you know how stressed and overworked he is. The best possible thing you can do for him is to take some of that work off his shoulders, right.

So you take care of getting his car tuned-up and detailed, you run his suits to the dry cleaners, and schedule his haircut appointment for him. And he walks in the door with a giant bouquet of flowers and the necklace you have been eyeing for months.

You stand there without a present because all those errands were your gift to him. Do you see where there might be an issue?

Chapman says,

What makes one person feel loved will not necessarily make another person feel loved. By nature, we tend to express love to others in the way we wish they would express love to us. When our spouse doesn’t respond positively to our expressions of love, we get frustrated. The problem is not the sincerity of our love; the problem is that we are speaking the wrong love language. If we speak our own love language but not our mate’s, we will fail to communicate.

How to determine your love language

The website 5lovelanguages.com can walk you through a 30-question survey to determine your preferences in regards to the five love languages.

You and your S.O. should both consider taking this quick profile assessment. Your highest score on your profile indicates your primary love language -

How you really understand your spouse’s expressions of love. It’s common to have two high scores (the highest score being 12), although one language tends to have a slight edge for most people. The lower scores in your profile indicate those languages you seldom use to communicate love and which probably don’t affect you on an emotional level in your marriage.

If you S.O. isn’t willing to take the survey, Chapman suggests listening to their complaints.

Complaints often reveal the key to our spouse’s inner longing for emotional love. If we learn our mate’s primary love language – and speak it – we will have a happier spouse and a better marriage.

My profile looks like this:

10 - Acts of Service

9 - Words of Affirmation

7 - Quality Time

3 - Physical Touch

1 - Receiving Gifts

And my S.O.’s looks like this:

9 – Quality Time

8 – Physical Touch

7 – Acts of Service

5 – Words of Affirmation

1 – Receiving Gifts

He loves to hold my hand when we are out on the town. I HATE it, in fact it makes me feel like I am being controlled and lead. But sometimes I have to remind myself that keeping my distance from him, while making me feel like a confident and autonomous woman, leaves him feeling unloved.

It was a shock to me that handholding was so important. It was also a shock to my guy that it made me feel so icky. Now when I do hold his hand, he really knows that I am making an effort to show my love. I don’t hold his hand often, but instead find other ways to touch him that are more comfortable to me.

Learning to speak your loved one’s love language will lead to greater intimacy and emotional connection.

Learning to adopt a foreign love language isn’t easy, and sharing your love language can leave you feeling vulnerable.

But doing so can guarantee that there will be no more hurt feelings when you arrive with his dry cleaning and he has a box of chocolates in hand.