Gary Chapman, in his best selling book, outlined the concept of love languages. He broke them down in general categories and posited everyone has a particular language to which they respond. Most people give in a language they desire. Unfortunately, being paired with someone possessing an identical love language is quite rare. More often than not, a partner needs something requiring sacrifice and practice to speak to them in a ways they truly value. This makes understanding all the love languages critical for open communication and deepen intimacy.
Gifts In some ways, this seems like the simplest love language
because one buys something for their partner and it is done. Those who respond to this language do not point to the gift itself. The gift represents everything else involved. Things like time, attention and effort all meld to elevate the item from a “gift” to a representation of the the other’s heart. In a gift card obsessed culture where no one wants to get the “wrong” thing, a thoughtful, specific item speaking directly to a partner’s interests goes a long way to bring two people closer together.
For this group, the presence of the one they care about can be enough. Think of a cold day when the wind blows and sleet hits the windows. Sitting next to a fire and having one’s partner there warms more than the body. It warms the heart. Too often, a person can get too focused on doing things or providing an experience. Those with the love language of time only want to know they matter enough to be with.
Words trip people up as society moves ever farther from a place where words hold sway. Take all sorts of social media with their emojis or pictures substituted for a well timed word. People who need words do not seek eloquence. They only want to hear the truth about themselves from their partner’s heart. It can take the form of a poem, a song or a simple whispered “I love you” followed by a pet name. Because of this, they feel seen and heard by the one they love.
This sounds really big as a love language complete with grand gestures or arduous tasks. The simplest way to understand this is think of the worst household chore. It varies, but everyone has one. Now, imagine arriving home with the task completed unexpectedly. Service is doing things for the partner they may always have to do or put off doing. This lightens their burden. But deeper than merely doing a chore for them, the partner sees how the rest of their work is acknowledged and seen.
Before this turns to more adult topics, because almost no one can resist those touches, this love language centers on more G and PG touching. Holding hands, snuggling on the couch and a good old fashioned hug passes affection to those with this love language. One of the biggest challenges for people with this love language occurs when the relationship has been well established and most of the early playfulness and touching vanishes. They need skin to skin contact to know their partner is close and cares.
Almost everyone has a dominant and secondary love language where they receive the majority of the reinforcement of connection. However, everyone should receive a variety of love from all these categories because it touches them in a variety of ways at different times. Words of love can impact those longing for touch as much as a tight hug. The important thing is to take the time, get to know what a partner needs and then strive to fill them with as much love as possible.