What does it take to fill your love tank? As cheesy as this terminology is, it’s actually a pretty appropriate way to check in with how loved, appreciated, and connected you feel in your relationship. Knowing your “love language” gives you insights into why you choose to be in an intimate relationship, how you like to interact, and what fills your love tank.
Consider this scenario: A wife is upset that her husband doesn’t express his love and affection for her. She complains that he never says that he loves her or that he thinks she’s beautiful. He counters by explaining that of course he loves her, and his actions that day of washing her car and fixing their fence are clearly signs of that. She feels unloved. He feels unappreciated. Both feel frustrated.
A love language is how we can direct our actions and words to meet the deep emotional needs of our partner. Likewise, they can fulfill our needs and reasons for being in an intimate relationship, by speaking our love language. Which of the following ways do you prefer to receive love and attention from a partner? Is that the same way or different than you tend to give love and attention?
1. Words of Affirmation
2. Quality Time
3. Receiving Gifts
4. Acts of Service
5. Physical Touch
In the example above, the wife is asking for love through words of affirmation, and the husband is giving love through acts of service. Although they love each other, they are not connecting in their expressions of love. This is unfortunately a common state of affairs in long-term relationships.
To identify you and your partner’s love language, take this short Love Language test. What do you do with this information once you have it? Well, if you want love through quality time and your partner wants love through receiving gifts, take little steps each week to fulfill these needs. For example, you can make sure to bring home a thoughtful gift of appreciation, such as flowers or their favorite treat. Your partner could ensure you schedule quality time together, or make time to debrief at the end of each day. What happens when you and your partner start speaking each other’s love language? You feel romantic. You feel appreciated. You want to do small things to make your partner feel good. It’s an upward spiral of positivity and affection.
I am basing this information on a book by Gary Chapman, called The 5 Love Languages. He offers a poignant interpretation of love, and I have seen this book turn relationships around. Even if you’re not in a relationship, Chapman has written many versions of this book, for singles, teenagers, children, men, etc. If this at all resonates with you, do yourself a favor and read this book.
(This was originally posted as part of the Relationship & Sex Blog for Pacific San Diego Magazine.
Dr. Jenn Gunsaullus, San Diego, CA -- Sexuality Speaker, Sexologist, Sociologist, Sex Therapist