A common challenge that arises in my therapeutic work with couples is the experience of love being “lost in translation.” Have you ever attempted to express your admiration to a loved one, yet were later met with phrases such as, “I don’t feel loved or appreciated enough?” Have you ever found yourself feeling that you “want more” from your partner despite them expressing their efforts?
It is very common for us to express love to others in the ways that we feel, understand, or want to be loved. For example, if you feel loved by others when they give you gifts, you are likely to shower your loved one’s with gifts to express your admiration, as well. However, it is an assumption that others experience and feel love in the same exact way that we do, and this can open up opportunities for misread intentions and a general feeling of disconnect.
The term “love languages” was coined by Gary Chapman, author of The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love that Lasts. Our “love language” descries how we receive and experience love from others. They include the following:
Words of Affirmation: Saying supportive things to your partner
Acts of service: Doing helpful things for your partner
Receiving gifts: Giving our partner gift that tell them you were thinking of them
Quality time: Spending meaningful time with your partner
Physical Touch: being close to and caressed by your partner.
Since each of us differ in the ways we understand and receive love, it is important to learn to give love in the ways that our loved ones can best receive and feel it, as well as asking our loved ones to give us love in the ways we want to be loved. It is important to keep in mind that you may have more than one love language.
Here are some questions to ask yourself to discover your love language with examples:
Words of Affirmation:
Do you feel loved and happy when you hear your partner providing encouraging, supportive and affirming words or compliments?
Examples: Your loved one tells you “I am so proud of you!”, “you look great!”, or “thank you for xyz…”
Acts of Service:
Do you feel loved and happy when your loved one helps you with a task that reduces burden or eases your stress?
Examples: Your loved one runs arrands for you, helps you with a chore, or takes care of something without having to ask them?
Do you feel loved and happy when your partner gets you thoughtful gifts?
Example: Your loved one gifts you something you’ve mentioned wanting or needing, or an unexpected gift that tells you they were thinking about you.
Do you feel loved and happy when your partner gives you their undivided attention and you engage in meaningful conversations or activities?
Examples: You and your partner plan a date night, watch a movie or go on a trip together, or have a deep conversation.
Do you feel loved and happy when your partner shows you affection through touch?
Examples: You and your partner hold hands, kiss, hug, or sit/lay close together.
Here is a link to a love language quiz if you would like to further explore your love language.