Yes, you love your partner. Yes, you think your partner should understand that you love them. Unfortunately, as any communications expert would advise you, you have to speak your audience’s language if you want them to understand the message you wish to impart.
It doesn’t matter if you’re an introvert or extrovert. It doesn’t matter if you’re an expressive or inarticulate person. Speaking in love language does not require a certification in literature or communications studies. I copied the list of the five love languages people generally “speak”. Normally, not dissimilar to linguistic, a person “speaks” one primary language and one or two other. Also, not dissimilar to human behaviour, sometimes a person expresses love better in one language, while expecting to be loved in another language.
And the rule of thumb of relationship is: communicate how you’d like to be loved and love your partner the way they want to be loved.
Dr. Gary Chapman’s Five Love Languages:
- Words of Affirmation
Actions don’t always speak louder than words. If this is your love language, unsolicited compliments mean the world to you. Hearing the words, “I love you,” are important—hearing the reasons behind that love sends your spirits skyward. Insults can leave you shattered and are not easily forgotten.
- Quality Time
In the vernacular of Quality Time, nothing says, “I love you,” like full, undivided attention. Being there for this type of person is critical, but really being there—with the TV off, fork and knife down, and all chores and tasks on standby—makes your significant other feel truly special and loved. Distractions, postponed dates, or the failure to listen can be especially hurtful.
- Receiving Gifts
Don’t mistake this love language for materialism; the receiver of gifts thrives on the love, thoughtfulness, and effort behind the gift. If you speak this language, the perfect gift or gesture shows that you are known, you are cared for, and you are prized above whatever was sacrificed to bring the gift to you. A missed birthday, anniversary, or a hasty, thoughtless gift would be disastrous—so would the absence of everyday gestures.
- Acts of Service
Can vacuuming the floors really be an expression of love? Absolutely! Anything you do to ease the burden of responsibilities weighing on an “Acts of Service” person will speak volumes. The words he or she most want to hear: “Let me do that for you.” Laziness, broken commitments, and making more work for them tell speakers of this language their feelings don’t matter.
- Physical Touch
This language isn’t all about the bedroom. A person whose primary language is Physical Touch is, not surprisingly, very touchy. Hugs, pats on the back, holding hands, and thoughtful touches on the arm, shoulder, or face—they can all be ways to show excitement, concern, care, and love. Physical presence and accessibility are crucial, while neglect or abuse can be unforgivable and destructive.
The language I use to love my partner is: act of service. I’m a career-driven bossy independent feminist. So when my friends see/hear me doing housework for my partner’s domestic comfort, they are all in awe. Yes, things you do for love. (I suspect that I tend to be “housewifely” because of my industrious mother, who most of her adult life had a career too!)
Seriously, I’m neat but not at all diligent at home. So washing and ironing Matthew’s clothes is a real chore. I do it anyway, without receiving any order beforehand (or exuberant gratitude afterward, for that matter). An instance happened last week.
I was in town for a couple of days so I spent the day at our Jakarta home after completing my business meeting in the morning. I felt the love I have for Matthew is so great that I had the energy (and surprisingly, willingness!) to do all house chores during the day, while managing my business remotely, AND cook for us just before he gets home. He seemed to enjoy it.
How about the language I wish Matthew speaks to me in? I’d like him to constantly physically touch me, which is rather hard to do given that we live apart in two different islands. But when we are together, I want him to be near me with his hand around me and do other things in that nature.
Like what Dr. Chapman said above, the touches don’t have to be sexual. A gentle peck in the head, hair strokes, big warm hugs… for me that’s heaven.
Speaking in love language is like speaking in marketing language. You don’t have to be wishy-washy or present grand gestures all the time. You only need to push the right button and rub it the right way 😉
That said, once we know our partner’s native love language we should not forgo expressing love in other languages. I express my love for Matthew in all lingoes known to man, some of which I’d like to keep secret just between us two. But believe me, women: when a son writes to his mother that his “cup runneth over”, that means you have done a great job in loving him.
And men, this is how you know that you’ve done a great job in loving your spouse: her friends find you adorable.