Couples Counseling: Reading this may save your relationship this Valentine’s Day
Updated: Mar 22, 2021
Valentine's Day can be a dreaded day for many; those with little money to spare in their bank accounts, fresh divorcees, people with high maintenance spouses, those in toxic relationships, those in new relationships, those in relationships that have lost their spark and even people who are single by choice. Love is a messy thing. Humankind has never quite been able to master it (despite how perfect you think Justin and Hailey Bieber are). For those who don't express feelings well, it is crippling to voice all your thoughts to your significant other. For those who wince at being touched, it is hard to receive someone else's public display of affection. For those who wear their emotions on their sleeve, how do you not be too much? To display love to someone, you must know how they best receive it. This is where it is important to know your and your partner's love language. In doing so, perhaps it will make your Valentine's Day lovely.
Over 25 years ago, marriage counselor Gary Chapman found a trend in the issues he was hearing from different marriages. He explains how one spouse would complain along the lines of, "I feel like my spouse doesn't love me!" While the other one would argue, "I am doing everything I can do!" Chapman then began to question what the spouses were hoping for more of when they felt like their spouse didn't love them. To his surprise, he found the answers fell into five different categories. These categories are what Chapman labeled the "five love languages."
"The premise is simple: different people with different personalities express love in different ways. I call these ways of expressing and receiving love the '5 Love Languages.' They are Words of Affirmation, Acts of Service, Receiving Gifts, Quality Time, and Physical Touch," Chapman once said.
Everyone has one love language that affects them the most. It is important for those who love you to know which way you receive love the best. This is also the way you will show love most effectively. However, to reverse this concept, you need to know how the person you are with feels and receives love best because oftentimes it will look different than the way you receive and express love. It just may be that the one you love is loving you with 100% effort, you just don't feel it because it is not the way you receive it. Let's decode these five love languages and, quite possibly, save your relationship in the process.
Words of Affirmation
To those whose primary love language is words of affirmation, emotions need to be expressed through words! They need to be regularly told how much someone cares about them, loves them, is proud of them, thinks they're attractive and so on. Assuming that the one you love already knows how much you love them so figuring you don't have to say it doesn't work for this love language. They feel validated through words. They also express love best this way. They shower in compliments and shoot short reassuring texts. This love language values originality and honest emotions; universally flirty lines do not work on them. If you struggle with voicing your emotions, it may be hard for those whose love language is words of affirmation to feel cared about if this is not practiced. However, while these people value honesty, there is no way to go wrong if you are your authentic self! If you can't say it, write it, text it, scribble it on a mirror! A few words go a long way.
Acts of Service
As opposed to those whose love language is words of affirmation, those who see love through acts of service find that actions do speak louder than words. Those with this primary love language feel most cared for when their partner does something for them, especially by surprise. It could be something as simple as charging their phone at night, scraping ice off their windshield or heating their car on a snowy day. Any action that can help them, they appreciate. To flip this on its head, this love language demonstrates their love for you by helping you. While these actions can be small, they are easily overlooked and this person can feel that their loving actions go unnoticed. It is important to know if your partner's primary love language is acts of service so you can look for the ways they assist you! If they cook you breakfast every morning, perhaps it is not just routine but it is them showing love! Take a turn and wake up early to cook breakfast for them next time and see how far that goes.
Going from acts of service to receiving gifts does make this love language seem a tad materialistic, but this is not the case. Those who love receiving gifts think deeper than just appreciating a nice bouquet of flowers, a cup of coffee, a nice watch or something as big as a diamond ring. It is the action of the one they love thinking about them on their own time, remembering something they like and going out of their way to please or surprise them. Those whose love language is receiving gifts are great listeners. They remember their partner saying they loved a certain pair of shoes or their favorite candy bar from when they were little. It is not about spending money, it is about effort. This person will also be a giver because that is how they show love best. If this is the case, do not feel guilty! They want to buy your meal or they want you to have the purse you've always wanted! This is how they demonstrate their love!
Everyone believes their love language is quality time. Of course, you like to spend time with the one you love. For those whose love language is quality time, however, it goes deeper than that. More than anything, these people crave quality attention. They want planned time, not just an open block in your schedule. They want present-time with meaningful conversation, not simply decompressing after work or planning what's going on next weekend. They don't want to watch a movie or mindlessly scroll through TikTok side-by-side in bed. They don't want the distractions of sports on TV during dinner or your phone buzzing every few minutes. Be fun! Be playful! Plan a real old-fashioned date. Win them over like it's the first time! Recognize that your partner with this love language does the same for you often.
Much like those whose love language is quality time, everyone believes their love language is physical touch. We are human, of course, we love physical touch. Every intimate relationship needs it. Those whose love language is physical touch, however, value more than just sex. These people need to hold hands, cuddle, hug and play with each other's hair. They also show love best this way. They are constantly touching you. This can easily be misinterpreted by the other partner assuming they are always initiating sex, which is not the case. They feel distant if they haven't felt touched in a non-sexual way. If you have a hard time being physically affectionate and this is your partner’s love language, work on doing small actions like playing with their hair or scratching their back while you watch a movie. It will go a long way.
Now that you have a grasp on what your love language is and hopefully a good guess on what your partner's may be, make sure to vocalize it to each other so you're on the same page. Make sure it is clear how you feel the most loved so they can go out of their way to do that for you. You cannot be upset and feeling like your partner doesn't love you anymore if they do not have a clear understanding of how to love you well. It is all about communication! The best gift you can give your partner this Valentine's Day is the playbook on how to love you well. This could save your relationship!
For a more clear answer of what your love language is take the test below!
There is also more information and date ideas for each love language on the website.