Have you ever heard of The 5 Love Languages? Do you know what yours is or which dialect you speak? Better yet, do you know the love language of your significant other or any close relationship in your life? About two years ago, my answer to all of these questions was “No”. But after a conversation with my sister-in-law about the military edition of The 5 Love Languages she and my brother had read, I was intrigued to better understand my and my boyfriend’s love language.
I bought the book and read it myself first. I pinned down what I thought my and my boyfriend’s love language was and then gave the book to him for Valentine’s day (among other things). I asked if he would read the book too because I strongly felt the concept of love languages could only reach its full potential when both parties have an understanding of its principles and foundation.
Whether in a relationship or not, I encourage you to find out what your love language is. There is a quiz online you can take, but I would highly recommend reading the book to learn a little bit more about each love language, their different dialects and what a love tank is. It is a quick and easy read with about 150 pages. There are also numerous variations of the original book The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love That Lasts, such as books that explore how these love languages apply to children, teens, singles and military couples.
As a teaser, love languages get at the way each of us feel and express love based on the words, actions and behaviors that make our love tank full. There are five primary love languages, all of which have various dialects. When you speak different love languages, or even different dialects of the same language, over time, your love tank can start to feel empty. You don’t have to have the same love language as your partner, but knowing and appreciating both of your languages helps you better communicate what makes your love tank full and helps you understand what you can do differently to make their love tank full.
The five love languages are:
- Words of Affirmation (e.g. Giving a compliment, expressing appreciation)
- Quality Time (e.g. Having quality conversation, doing activities together)
- Receiving Gifts (e.g. Making handmade gifts, giving something “just because”)
- Acts of Service (e.g. Taking out the trash, Cleaning the house)
- Physical Touch (e.g. Holding hands, hugging)
The languages themselves are fairly self-explanatory, but the book does a good job of dissecting each one through the author’s personal anecdotes of couples he has met and counseled over the years.
I waited until I finished the book and took the quiz, but I felt I knew my and my boyfriend’s primary love language as soon as I read about them. And yes, I say “them” because we don’t have the same primary love language. Although we learned we have the same bottom two, our top three are in a different order. In short, I found my primary love language is Quality Time, followed by Physical Touch and Words of Affirmation. My boyfriend’s primary love language is Words of Affirmation, followed by Quality Time and Physical Touch.
As you can imagine, we maybe only filled each other’s love tank one or two thirds of the way full and were left wondering why all of our efforts to express love to the other person weren’t working. I would give him my full attention with no distractions or would be willing to do something of interest to him if it meant spending time together. And he would tell me I look great as I left for work each day or compliment me on what I made for dinner, but all of these expressions of love did not register with the other person because we were speaking in our primary love language and not each others. So I’ve learned a lot about the different types of Words of Affirmation, and he has learned a lot about what Quality Time means. And we are still learning given it’s not our primary love language, but because we love each other, it is motivation enough to translate your love into a way that can be understood and felt by the other person.
With Receiving Gifts ranking in both of our bottoms, we decided for our anniversary this year, we would try to incorporate each other’s love language into our gift to each other. My big gift to him was a weekend trip to a new city complete with seeing a new favorite artist in concert. This was a few weeks before our anniversary, so when we went out to dinner to celebrate, he was pleasantly surprised when I brought out a little wrapped package and a card. Each month for the first year of dating, I would write my boyfriend a letter to express what he and our time together meant to me, and although I wish I could say I’ve kept that up every year since, my letter writing is now reserved for times like these. So I found the perfect anniversary card and wrote a novel in it to say everything else I wanted to say. And although he knew what was underneath the wrapping was a book, it wasn’t just any book, but one I had made just for him about why I love him. So we sat on the couch and read the book together, laughing and smiling about all the reasons I love him.
My boyfriend on the other hand was tasked with incorporating Quality Time into his gift to me and in my opinion, nailed it! He always does a great job of picking out a sweet card, and this one was no different, but inside of it was the sweetest, most thoughtful gift of all: a brochure highlighting our “Date Day” scheduled for a few weekends away. First on the agenda was a class together at my favorite workout place, CycleBar. Next, was brunch, a foodie favorite I had desperately missed over the past few months as he trained for his competition. After brunch, we caught the OSU game at a brewery, which by no means is his choice of team, but he knows is mine. All of this end capped with a couples massage, something we used to do more often together. Just one of these activities gets my heart racing, but a whole day together doing things he knows I genuinely enjoy made my tank overflow.
So here we are in the holiday season, trying to think of the best gift for our significant other, or any close relationship for that matter. If your significant other’s primary love language is Receiving Gifts, then you probably haven’t had any trouble figuring out what to get them. But for the rest of us, why not give them a different kind of gift this year…one that will speak to their love language. First, you must figure out what their primary love language is, and then from there, make, buy or share something with them that will make their love tank full. After all, it is supposed to be the most wonderful time of the year.