How the Love Languages can help your Relationship
Are the love languages real?
The love languages are real.
They give people a language to identify what they need in a relationship, how they can fill their needs, and how to articulate their needs to their partner. I always tell my clients that identifying what you want is 2/3rds, if not more of the battle.
I have found that throughout the years when I have asked people what their love language is, they meet me with one of three responses:
An ambivalent look, followed by an "I don't know."
A clear and defined answer, such as proudly stating "physical touch."
"I feel like I am all of them!"
Not a single one of these answers is wrong! While one person may find comfort in having a bucket to put themselves in, another may find love languages limiting.
The last person who says they are all of them is right on too! Most of us demonstrate all the love languages to different extents, just as most of us are a certain percentage introverted to complement our extroversion, which is why the word ambivert is so popular.
What issues can the Love Languages invite to a relationship?
We all have all 5 of the love languages, ranked from our most prominent to least prominent. For example, if Ryan's last love language is acts of service, Ryan marrying someone whose top love language is acts of service presents a steep learning curve.
The good news is, we can learn all love languages! A tip for doing this is to create a list of things you can do for your partner that they will receive in their language.
Another issue that can arise when one partner is committed to learning their partner's love language. The other one feels apathetic, leaving the committed partner disappointed and rejected.
Often those who do not connect with Love Languages are offended by the idea of having their personality bucketed into one of five categories. I asked one anti-chapmanner why he is so against them. He said he believes them to be an oversimplification. He said, "There are too many shades of grey in the complexity of human experience and relationships to boil it down to something with only five options possibly." To his response, I wondered why I am so ok with being categorized, but we can tackle that another day.
The moral of the story is to set your expectations appropriately. Just because the idea resonates with you does not mean your partner will jive with it as well. Give to give, not to receive. Making your partner feel loved will afford you more positive regard during future conflicts. If one of those conflicts involves you asking for more back scratches, so be it... but maybe leave out the words "Love Languages."
The good news is, we can learn all love languages! A tip for doing this is to create a list of things you can do for your partner that they will receive in their language. For example, "tell my wife she has beautiful eyes" for words of affirmation spouses.
A piece of more accessible advice for giving your partner love in their language is for you to download this great app called Love Nudge that sends you push notifications reminding you to share your partner's love in their language.
Should people take love languages seriously?
Yes! We all want to feel love. There is a reason that Gary Chapman is a household name, and has been mentioned everywhere from Oprah, to the Real Housewives! They can be a powerful tool to transform your relationship.
How are they helpful?
Gary Chapman, who wrote the five languages, says the number one reason people buy his book is that they have transitioned out of the in-love period of their relationship and feel like they are roommates with their partners. At the beginning of a relationship, showing love happens naturally. Still, once we get more comfortable in the relationship, we have to make more of a conscious effort to make each other feel loved, and that is ok! Once we accept that this is normal, we can implement the teachings of Chapman and get back to love with our partners.
They can be helpful for romantic relationships, friendships, and within families.
Important to note: The Long Languages are NOT a substitute for therapy.