If you are reading this have probably heard or read something about love languages - possibly from a church, friend, partner, counselor, or maybe the book about it is covered in dust on your shelf. But do you really understand how they work? So many, from my professional experience, do not!
So what are Love languages again?
Acts of Service, Quality Time, Physical Touch, Gifts, & Words of affirmation
Basically, love languages are the ways we want to be loved, and the ways we tend to show love - to know how they work adds so much to your relational toolbox. These particular tools are best practiced as often as you can remember, and to whatever extent you can tolerate (especially if you are loving somebody in a way that is not typical for you). But here is the real tip, as much as it is good for you to love in a way that your partner can understand it is just as important for your partner to learn to interpret the way you love natively, and vice versa. The truth is that we tend to be terrible at loving in ways that are foreign to our typical nature, so we aim for a middle ground of loving in a way that is understood.
A quick example of how this might work is acts of service vs quality time. One partner is loving through service and the other doesn't see love, just a busy bee. Well, what's really happening? Could it be love? Find out! Ask questions if you are not sure. Something like: "honey are you buzzing about because this is how you love, by serving?" Either way, the effort is to learn to receive acts of service (or whatever language) as an act of love even if quality time is the preference. And the service-driven lover needs to learn to communicate through quality time as well. Imagine if both partners approached each other this way, how much better could it be? Besides, most people appreciate being loved one way or another so there is little risk here. But remember, love languages are a lifestyle, not a one-time event. And, getting better at loving is something we earn over time, not something that just happens. Keep trying even if you fail, because that is the only way to get better.
By Eddie Eccker, MS, LMFT