There is a 99% chance you have already heard of or read this book. It is so widely known, but I think it deserves a spot in my "Life Changing Books" section because it has simply come up so many times in conversations I've had with friends regarding their marriages.
Knowing what both your and your spouse's love languages are is extremely valuable, especially in the first few years of your marriage. Knowing what makes your spouse feel loved is key to successfully showing him or her how much you care. We may think we are doing very well expressing our love to our spouse because we prepare his or her coffee each morning and take out the trash without being asked. However, if all our spouse wants if for us to wrap our arms around him or her, give a soft kiss on the cheek and whisper how lucky we are to be married to him or her, then we can "serve" until we are blue in the face without ever really communicating our love.
We must know both our own and our spouse's love languages in order to communicate to them how to best show their love to us and to know what we can do for them that will truly make them feel loved. If we miss this piece, there is room for much discontentment in our marriages, or even worse, seeking out that sense of being loved by someone outside the marriage. This is why internalizing this kind of information will serve us well as we seek to have healthy and strong marriages.
So let's go through the 5 love languages:
1) Words of Affirmation:
Telling your spouse in words how much you love them, how handsome or beautiful you think they are, how much you admire them, what you appreciate about them, how they are the only one for you, that you are proud of them, saying "thank you" for them loving you, putting up with you, serving you, etc.
2) Quality Time:
Those who have this love language feel that their relationships are stronger as they spend time with the people they love. They may feel a simple gift given for a birthday is insufficient; instead they would want to take the person out to a restaurant so they could spend time with them on their birthday. Just like many times children would rather see their father than having him give them a gift if he has to travel extensively for work, if our spouse values the time we spend with them, we must learn to say "no" to other things that compete for our time and attention if we hope to communicate love to our spouse effectively.
3) Physical Touch:
If your love language is physical touch, you express your love to your spouse by hugs, kisses, back rubs, holding hands, cuddling, etc. You also look for this from your spouse and gain a sense of comfort and affirmation when he or reaches out to physically show you love. Many women assume all men have this as their primary love language, but that is not necessarily true. The author will explain that in the book if you read that section.
4) Acts of Service:
Those who speak the language of acts of service show their love to their spouse by doing things for them. This includes things like cleaning the kitchen, doing a household chore without being asked, bringing the spouse something they left at home even when they could have done without it, just because you saw it as an opportunity to express your love for them. Perhaps it's making their morning coffee for them, packing their lunch, picking up the kids for them, etc. Those who speak this love language will find themselves doing things such as those mentioned above but also really appreciating it when their spouse does something like that for them.
If giving gifts is your primary love language, you place a strong value on both thoughtfully purchasing good gifts for those you love and also receiving gifts. If you are a mother who speaks this love language, then your heart will melt when your son who is away at college sends you flowers on your birthday. If you are a Grandmother who speaks this language, you will find excuses to dote on your grandchildren by picking out new toys or clothes to give them as gifts. You will be excited to see the recipient of the gift enjoy what you have picked out because it was your way of showing them that you were thinking of them.
So how do you figure out what your love languages are? One very good way is to ask yourself what it is that you find yourself doing when you want to express your love to someone. Do you find yourself writing them a nice note or leaving them a loving voicemail message? If so you probably speak the "Words of Affirmation" love language. Do you find yourself compelled to invite them to your house for dinner or take them out to coffee? Then you might speak the "Quality Time" love language.
Another way to know what your love language is would be to ask yourself what others do that really speaks to you, or makes you feel loved. What would you like others to do to show you they care? What do you wish your spouse would do or say that would just put you on cloud nine? The answer to that is probably your love language.
Once you identify your love language, think about your spouse. What do you see them doing to express their love to you and others? What do you do or say to them that really lights up their mood? If you still cannot figure out what your spouse's primary love languages are, ask him or her. "What do I do or could I do that would really knock your socks off?" "What is something that would really show you how much I care about you?" You may give a few examples like giving them a gift, cleaning the bathroom, etc and see which one they latch on to most. If they still do not give you a solid answer, ask them to think of what they find themselves doing for others when they really want to show their love to them. This question is very helpful.
Most people have one or two primary love languages. Often there is a third that may be on par with one of the first two as well.
I find that I speak the love language of "Physical Touch" strongly within my marriage, but really not so much with my friends and family. For example, I love it when Jesse comes and gives me a hug from behind while I am washing the dishes, but I don't hug my friends hello and goodbye every time I see them, nor do I feel the strong urge to do so. I think that for me, then, physical touch is a secondary love language because it's not my go-to language in all situations.
I know that I have emphasized love languages in the context of marriage in this post, but truly these apply to all kinds of relationships. Even if you are not married, knowing your love languages can help you to improve your other relationships as you study others around you and learn how they receive love and care from you.
As I mentioned, getting this and remembering it is SO VALUABLE. I read this book a good 8 years ago, and I still remember each language because the ideas have simply come up that often for me over the years.
Here is a link for the book. This site is pretty cool because it even has an inventory quiz you can take to learn what your love languages are. Peruse it awhile and chew on this topic. Much love!