We each learn ways of expressing our love and appreciation. How we express our love may be influenced by our early experiences, cultural influences, and family of origin. We may communicate our love by giving gifts, through touch, through words, spending time with our partner, or through acts of service. The concept of love languages was developed by Gary Chapman in 1992 and suggests that each of us has a predominant way of expressing our love.
So why is it important to understand our partner’s love language?
Speaking different love languages can often start as a simple miscommunication that can have major consequences. When one person understands love as being expressed through words, for example, and that person’s partner expresses his or her love through acts of service, the message can be lost in communication.
For example, let’s say I understand love when it is expressed through words. I may become insecure, resentful, and may even begin to believe that my partner does not truly love or care about me when my partner does not verbally express his or her love. I may feel disconnected from my partner and begin to distance myself from my partner to protect my feelings of vulnerability. I may start to feel as though something is lacking in my relationship and perhaps I may even look elsewhere to have my needs met.
The resentment and insecurity may start to build up which could cause me to focus on what my partner is not saying. This, in turn, prevents me from noticing that my partner is demonstrating his or her love in other ways such as making me coffee every morning or scraping the ice off my car before I go to work. My partner is communicating his or her love through acts of service. I may not realize because we are not speaking the same love language.
Not only have I become hurt and resentful because my partner is not verbally expressing his or her love for me but my partner may start to feel unappreciated for his or her acts of service. My partner may start to feel as though he or she cannot do anything right and may feel that there is nothing that he or she can do to make me happy. My partner may start to feel defeated in the relationship. This, in turn, can lead to my partner feeling resentful towards me. This can start to create a rift between us which can lead to a rupture in the relationship or a communication breakdown.
If we learn how our partners communicate their love and appreciation, then we can start to “hear” the message and it will no longer be lost in translation
If we learn how our partners understand love, then we can work towards communicating our love in a way that our partners can understand. For example, I could start to focus my attention on my partner’s acts of service and understand that this is how my partner is showing me love. Instead of feeling resentful about what my partner is not doing, I may begin to feel special, loved, and emotionally safe.
My partner could also learn that I understand love through words of affirmation and my partner can begin to make more attempts in using words to express that he or she loves me. This allows for a more fulfilling relationship where both partners feel understood and appreciated. This can strengthen our attachment which can also lead to greater conflict resolution when conflict does arise in the relationship.
Speaking the same love language as your partner will allow for intimacy, connection, communication, trust, and emotional safety
In understanding your partner’s love language, you learn more about your partner, you take your partner’s needs into account, and this may even create conversation about how, and from who, each of you learned about love and how it is expressed. This can facilitate open and honest communication.
If you are interested in learning more about love languages, you can find more on the subject in books and online. There are quizzes that can help you decipher what your love language is as well as your partner’s. A couples’ counsellor can also help to facilitate the conversation around your love language strengthening your bond and allowing for both partners to feel understood.