3.05.2014

the 5 love languages | week 1

This month I will be doing a 4-week series on The 5 Love Languages. I chose this topic because a lot of people have heard about the love languages but do not know very much about them or how much they can benefit your marriage. For Dustin and I personally, learning each other's love languages -- and discovering our own -- has been instrumental in our relationship and has been a crucial element to us showing and feeling love toward each other and feeling fulfilled in our marriage. This series is based on the book my Gary Chapman, titled "The 5 Love Languages" -- available here.

Week 1 -- Basic introduction of what the 5 love languages are and why they matter.
Week 2 -- Exploring Words of Affirmation, Quality Time & Gifts in greater depth
Week 3 -- Exploring Acts of Service & Physical Touch in greater depth & learning how to discover your primary love language
Week 4 -- Learning your spouse's primary love language and putting it to work in your marriage to benefit both of you

What are the 5 Love Languages?

There are 5 emotional love languages -- five ways that people speak and understand emotional love. One of the keys to a lifelong successful marriage, I believe, is learning to speak the love language of your spouse. Seldom do a husband and wife have the same primary love language and we tend to speak our primary love language toward our spouse. 

1. Words of Affirmation -- Expressing love by using words to build your spouse up

Mark Twain once said, "I can live for two months on a good compliment," and if we take Mark Twain literally, six compliments a year would have kept his emotional love tank at the operational level. 

Examples of Words of Affirmation would include: verbal compliments, words of appreciation, encouraging words, speaking with kindness, written words (in a card or letter), etc.

2. Quality Time -- Expressing love by giving your spouse your undivided attention 

When you sit with your husband or wife and give them 20 minutes of your undivided attention and they do the same for you, you are giving each other 20 minutes of your life. You will never have those 20 minutes back again; you are giving your lives to each other. It is a powerful emotional communicator of love.

Examples of Quality Time would include: having dinner and an uninterrupted conversation, taking a walk together, going out on a date, spending time focusing on each other, doing something with your spouse that he/she enjoys doing and doing it wholeheartedly, taking a weekend trip together, sharing a cup of coffee and having a good conversation, etc.

3. Receiving Gifts -- Expressing love by giving your spouse a gift

A gift is something you can hold in your hand and say, "Look, he was thinking of me," or, "She remembered me." It is a visual symbol of love. You must be thinking of someone to give them a gift. The gift itself is a symbol of that thought. It doesn't matter whether it costs money; what is important is that they thought of you. And it is not the thought implanted only in the mind that counts, but the thought expressed in actually securing the gift and giving is as the expression of love. 

Examples of Gifts would include: a bouquet of flowers, something you find in nature that you attach special meaning to, something you take the time to make, an item that your spouse has been wanting for awhile, a new book that you will read together, etc. 

4. Acts of Service -- Expressing love by doing things you know your spouse would like you to do or would greatly appreciate

You seek to please your spouse by serving them, to express your love for him or her by doing things for him or her. The acts of service require thought, planning, time, effort and energy. When done with a positive spirit, they are definitely expressions of love. 

Examples of Acts of Service would include: cooking a meal, setting the table, washing dishes, vacuuming, putting the baby to bed, keeping the car running smoothly, mowing the lawn, paying the bills, walking the dog, running an errand, giving a foot rub, etc.

5. Physical Touch -- Expressing love through physical touch

Physical touch is a powerful vehicle for communicating emotional love in a marriage. For some individuals, physical touch is their primary love language and without it, they feel unloved and can even feel worthless. With it, their emotional tank is filled and they feel secure in the love of their spouse.

Examples of physical touch would include: holding hands, kissing, embracing, massage, intimacy, etc. 

The Emotional Love Tank
Throughout his book, Gary Chapman continuously refers to the "emotional love tank" -- an indicator of how loved you are feeling. The need to feel loved by one's spouse is at the heart of marital desires and if your spouse is not showing you love in the way that fills your love tank (by speaking your love language), over time you will likely be feeling pretty empty. Each individual has an emotional love tank and as you start to pay attention to how you are feeling emotionally, you will likely be able to determine how full or empty your tank is. 

Dustin often asks me, "How is your love tank?" -- A little silly sounding, but an important question, because it allows me to express an area that may be lacking or an emptiness I am feeling. When I do the same for him, I am reminded of how I can show him love to fill him up, even with the smallest gesture. He tells me what he would like more of and I do the same. It is important to check in and see how "full" each other is feeling -- because with the busyness of life, marriage, parenting, work, etc. -- it is easy to lose track of how your spouse is feeling emotionally and emotional emptiness can escalate quickly if it is not addressed. Checking in with one another on a regular basis allows us to fill each other up in the ways we most need it. Think of it as filling the gas tank in your car every week. It would be better to "top it off" and keep it full than to let it run on empty and then you find yourself with a car that won't go anywhere. What a mess. The same is true in a marriage. 

Why do the love languages matter?

Once you discover the 5 basic love languages and understand your own primary love language, as well as the primary love language of your spouse, you can become more effective communicators of love in your marriage. Chapman states, "Your emotional love language and the language of your spouse may be as different as Chinese is from English. No matter how hard you try to express love in English, if your spouse understands only Chinese, you will never understand to love each other."

For example, I used to write cards to Dustin when we were dating. I would buy the sweetest cards and write long messages in them, telling him how I felt about him. I was always so excited to give them to him and while he enjoyed reading them, I never received the reaction I had hoped for deep down. Why? Because "words of affirmation" wasn't Dustin's love language. It makes sense that I was showing him love in the way I feel loved, though -- words of affirmation is one of my love languages! It took time for me to let go of showing Dustin love in that way, but eventually I stopped writing as many cards and instead focused my energy and efforts into the areas that did fill him up and make him feel the most loved. He has done the same for me (see the card he gave me yesterday?) and as this series continues, I'll be sharing more about our own love languages and how we have incorporated them into our marriage.  

Next week I will be sharing more about the love languages of Words of Affirmation, Quality Time and Receiving Gifts. 

2 comments:

  1. The 5 Love Languages are SO helpful. I took the quiz years ago when I was single and got "quality time." After 3+ years with my Hubby, I know this is absolutely accurate. Most of our arguments stem from this- me feeling disappointed by a lack of quality time. I usually pay little mind to "self-help" books like this one, but it's been so good for us to know each other's love languages.

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  2. I loved reading this book because it showed me that my husband and I have different love languages. Very helpful to any marriage starting out!

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