Why You Should Learn Your Partner’s Love Language

You know that your partner has been having a particularly tough time. Work has been crazy. The kids are driving both of you up the wall.

So, you decide to do something nice for them. You spend time at work that week researching a big gift you think they’ll like. After you pick the kids up from school, you head out together to get it.

You’re excited. The kids are excited. But when you give it to your partner, they’re a bit subdued.

And it hurts. You put a lot of time and effort into finding something that would show your appreciation, and they barely seemed to care.

So, against your better judgment, you confront them. You talk about why you did it. About the work you put into it. How much it would have meant to you to have received such a thoughtful gift.

Their response: they do appreciate the time and effort you put in, but presents just don’t mean that much to them. They never have.

Before you lay into your partner even more, take a deep breath and think about what they’re saying. Clearly, getting a big present means something important to you. But just because you put so much meaning on it doesn’t mean that your partner does.

Here’s the more important question: what kinds of things do matter to your partner?

What we’re talking about here is love languages. Different things convey love to different people. And if you want your partner to feel loved, you need to know what says love to him or her.

How Do You Know What (Love) Language Your Partner Speaks?

According to Dr. Gary Chapman, there are five different universal “love languages.” They are:

  1. Words of affirmation. Compliments, I love you’s, and other positive verbal interactions really get their love juices flowing. On the flip side, insults and other negative comments won’t be forgotten or forgiven easily.
  2. Acts of service. Making life a little bit easier for them shows them how much you care. Increasing their workload frustrates the heck out of them.
  3. Are diamonds or a new 70-inch TV their best friend? Then they may feel love by receiving gifts. To be clear, these gifts don’t necessarily have to be big or expensive. Showing you care by getting something is what matters.
  4. Quality time. They don’t care what you do, as long as it’s with them. If you skip another activity to show them that you’d rather spend time with them, even better.
  5. Physical touch. These people feel love by really feeling Kissing, holding hands, hugging, and other types of physical affection really matter to them.

Most people appreciate many, if not all, of these love languages, but we tend to gravitate toward one of these five more than the others.

Here’s the trap most of us fall into though: we assume that what makes us feel loved is the same thing that will make our partners feel loved. So, if we like being touched, we’ll touch them a lot. If we wish someone would just help us out by getting our car cleaned or taking out the garbage, we’ll engage in those types of acts of service.

Here’s what you should do instead: pay attention to what your partner really seems to appreciate. Try something in each of the five languages and see what works best. Or – better yet – just ask them.

Even if they don’t know exactly, asking will show you really care. And it will get them thinking, not just about how they feel love, but possibly how you feel love, too. And that’s good for both of you.

If you're having trouble talking about it, seek the help of a Delaware marriage therapist, who can help you uncover one another's love language as well as learn other valuable relationship tools and techniques.

Walt Ciecko, Ph. D., BCB
605 Wynyard Rd
Wilmington, DE 19803