Have you ever received a gift on a day that was not your birthday or anniversary, not even a special occasion, from your spouse and even though there was gratitude in your heart you look at him/her with a slight confused look? Or your spouse moves around the house from chore to chore when, even though your grateful, you really just want to sit on the couch, hold hands and snuggle while watching a movie. It is in moments like these that knowing how to best love your spouse is important.
A healthy marriage doesn’t thrive when each individual is only giving 50/50. Both individuals must give 100 percent to thrive in a healthy and satisfying marriage and one of the best ways to do this is by knowing your spouse’s love language. Gary Chapman identifies five ways a person gives and receives love in his book, The 5 Love Languages.
The way your spouse best receives love may be completely different than the way you receive it, and unfortunately we tend to show love to others the way that we wish to be loved. Then, even if you feel like you’re giving your all, your spouse may not respond well to the way you are trying to express love, resulting in both individuals feeling frustrated and unfulfilled. This problem is not a matter of how much you love your spouse or how sincere it is; the problem is your simply not speaking the right language. The key is to become fluent in the way your spouse speaks love and there are five possibilities. Which one could it be?
Words of Affirmation
This love language consists of lots of words. These are words that not only say, “I love you,” but they express value, appreciation, and compliments. A person that speaks this language enjoys hearing someone say how much he or she means to them. Seems easy right? You may even get creative and stick post-it notes all around the house expressing your love for them. However, it can be equally easy to deplete their tank with words of anger, insults, and rejection. Words for this person hold a lot of power both positive and negative.
Is spending one-on-one time with your spouse precious to you? Do you crave individual attention from your spouse without the distractions of phones, TV, and even children? Is it so important that you tend to get frustrated if your spouse gets distracted? If you answered yes to these questions then quality time is probably the love language you speak. This person needs moments together that include just talking with one another, whether you’re going for a walk or sitting on the couch the value comes when there are no distractions. Simply being in close proximity doesn’t count, in fact if you hear your spouse saying things like “We don’t spend any time together,” their love language is not being met.
Acts of Service
You know the phrase “Actions speak louder than words?” This is especially true for a person whose love language is acts of service. If your spouse feels most appreciated when you see what needs to be done and do it without being asked then this might be their love language. This could mean they feel valued when you take the time to go grocery shopping, fold laundry, unload the dishwasher, help with the kids etc. In fact they may get frustrated if help isn’t offered or the promise of getting something done gets neglected. The best way to love this person is by finding ways to serve them, whether you completely clean the house, or you make a special meal for them, just giving them space to relax is what makes them feel most valued.
It may seem like this person is materialistic, but that really isn’t the case at all. A gift to this person means, “I was thinking about you.” It has nothing to do with the dollar amount; it’s the effort that goes a long way for someone with this love language. The gift is simply proof that they were on your mind. If your spouse speaks this language pay extra attention to what they like or something they said they want and then surprise them with it. They will be grateful for the gift but will love that you remembered much more. It’s the little things, the small gestures like bringing home a souvenir when you’ve been away or grabbing their favorite candy bar when at the store. It is these tangible acts of love that mean the most to a person who speaks this language.
This love language is often misunderstood because when you’re married physical touch is not just about sex, even though that’s a bonus, it’s a matter of being close. It is taking an extra moment to hug each other a little longer, it’s holding hands in the car or snuggled up under a blanket together, it’s a back rub after a long day or a kiss goodbye before they leave to work. This person yearns to feel connected through touch and without it they tend to feel disconnected.
Discovering and mastering your spouse’s love language will help them receive your love in a way that is much more meaningful to them. Focusing on the one they are emotionally fluent in will help you communicate even greater what’s already in your heart.