Learn how to recognize what makes your partner feel appreciated
Let’s take Amy, for instance. She is a woman who loves her husband dearly. She tries to demonstrate her intense level of love by showing him little acts of kindness—doing his laundry, ironing his dress shirts, and hanging them up in his closet. She often packs his lunch for him and picks all his favorite foods. She always has a hot meal on the table when he comes home from work. She even helps him in the yard on the weekends. However, Amy feels like her love goes unnoticed. Her husband, while he loves her, does not say thank-you for the many things Amy does for him, and at times he even comments, “Do you really love me?” Amy was baffled by these comments until she read the book, The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love That Lasts by Gary Chapman.
In his book about the five love languages, Gary Chapman writes about how we tend to love others in the way we want to be loved ourselves. Amy was communicating love to her husband in a style she recognized, but that did not fulfill her husband’s needs. She was showing him her love in the way she wished he would show his love for her—by acts of service. Chapman lists five different ways we can show our love to others: words of affirmation, quality time, receiving gifts, acts of service, and physical touch.
1. Words of affirmation
Communicating love through words of affirmation means telling people how much we appreciate them and how important they are to us. These words let people know they are loved and supported. When you give verbal compliments and encouragement, you are helping another person to experience your kindness. Furthermore, being humble and asking instead of demanding when you would like someone to do something for you goes a long way for someone who enjoys words of affirmation. Lastly, writing little love notes or encouraging letters verifies your love with someone who likes words of affirmation.
2. Quality time
Spending time with others is the second love language. What you are doing with the person you love does not matter as much as the fact that you are doing it together. Giving your undivided attention is important so the other person feels like the center of your world during the moments you are spending together. Furthermore, listening for the other person’s feelings in conversation is important; it communicates that you are truly listening intently to what the other is sharing with you. When you think about what kinds of activities the other person would enjoy doing with you, and then organize those activities, you are expressing love in a way that person will understand and feel.
3. Receiving gifts
We can communicate our love by giving gifts to others, either material presents or the gift of ourselves. Even a little note in a person’s lunch bag is felt deeply. If you give the gift of yourself, your presence will be cherished as a sign of your love. Bringing home a small, “perfect” gift when you were out shopping all day or while out of town for work or vacation is a great way to give a gift of love.
4. Acts of service
When you serve others by completing chores or activities for them, you are practicing the fourth love language, acts of service. Completing work for another person makes that person feel a sense of companionship, and he or she experiences the joy of a lighter workload. Accomplishing jobs that you are not asked to do—or even hiring a handyman to fix little things around the house—are all ways you can demonstrate your love. The more you are able to do these tasks with love and without complaint, the more your love will be felt.