5 Love Languages, 7 Days, 1 Couple

In his 30 years as a marriage and family counselor

Gary Chapman, Ph.D., has listened to a lot of couples’ complaints—so many that he’s begun to see a pattern. “I found myself hearing the same stories over and over again,” he says. When Chapman sat down and read the notes from over a decade ago,

He realized that what couples really want from each other can be divided into five distinct categories:

  1. Words of affirmation: compliments or words of encouragement
  2. Quality time: their partner’s undivided attention
  3. Receiving gifts: symbols of love such as flowers or chocolates.
  4. Acts of service: set the table, walk the dog, or do other small work.
  5. Physical touch: sex, hand-holding, kissing.

“I really feel like these five ways to express love to people seem pretty fundamental,” says Chapman, director of Marriage & Family Life Consultants, Inc. in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. Chapman called these five categories “love languages” and translated this idea into a book. 5 love languages, which went on to become a huge bestseller. Chapman says learning each other’s love language can help couples express their emotions in a way that is “deeply meaningful” to each other.

It’s an approach that makes sense, says Julie Nise, M.A., LPC, LMFT,

Marriage coach at Aim Counseling Center in Houston and author 4 weeks to a happy relationship. “In my experience, understanding your partner’s point of view (whether you agree with them or not) is what’s missing the most in troubled marriages,” she says. The main thing, says Nise, “is to do your best every day to really know how your partner feels and what he really thinks about this issue. If you dedicate yourself to understanding their point of view… much more smoothly and the solutions often become obvious.” In the book, Chapman claims that his technique could save “thousands of marriages”. He says his 5 love languages ​​can also help make for an overall good marriage that just needs a little tweaking. Like mine.I decided to test his strategy.

What is my love language?

So my husband and I set about learning each other’s love languages. Determining your partner’s love language requires careful thought and observation, Chapman says. You have to ask, “What matters most to me?” and “What is my spouse most likely to ask for in a relationship?”“How do they react to other people and how do they react to you? If they always say words of encouragement to you, that’s probably their love language,” he says. You should also listen carefully to your partner’s criticism. “We are often on the defensive,” Chapman says, “but they do give us valuable information. If they’re complaining about something, it’s most likely their love language.” In other words, if your partner constantly says you never cook, they are probably doing a favor.

My husband and I thought about what we most wanted from each other.

We realized that all the best times in our relationship – the moments we came back to again and again – were periods that we spent alone as a couple. Our honeymoon in Fiji. Vacation when we were covered with snow in a mountain resort. Our trip to London and Paris. We were pretty sure we knew where it would lead, but we took Chapman’s Love Languages ​​online quiz to test it out. As we suspected, my husband and I share a love language: quality time. This does not mean that words of approval, receiving gifts, and the other two love languages ​​are not important to us. Just quality time is our primary love language.

“You can receive love in all five languages,” Chapman says. “If you can adequately speak the main language, then [when] you sprinkle others, it’s like the icing on the cake.”

5 love languages, 7 days

Having the same love language made it easier for my husband and me to get along with each other, but it didn’t solve our lack of time. How could we find time for each other when we could barely make time for ourselves and everything else in our busy lives? “Busy is no excuse,” Chapman says. Whatever the couple’s love language, it takes time to adjust. “If we understand the importance of maintaining love in a relationship, we need to take the time to do so,” he says. “You put it on your schedule like anything else.”

Nise emphasizes that time spent with each other should not take up much time.

It can be as quick and easy as having a cup of coffee and talking for a few minutes, as long as the attention is focused. “You should always have time for a couple,” she says. “You just have to do things together.”So what would we do together? At first, we could not agree. I suggested something romantic, like a poetry reading. My husband voted for shower sharing. Obviously, we needed to find compatible activities. Finally, we settled on seven things to do together – one for each day of the assignment. One day, we wandered around the exotic food stalls at the local farmers’ market for almost an hour. The next day we went to antiques. We hired a babysitter one evening and talked over a glass of wine at our favorite date bar/restaurant.

We soon realized that we didn’t have to go on a formal date to have a good time together.

After my son went to bed, instead of sitting next to him and watching some pointless TV show, we turned off the screen and talked. We discussed issues that are important to us: what we liked about each other and what we felt was missing in our marriage. The ability to focus on each other brought back feelings and emotions that had not appeared since the first days of our relationship BC (before the appearance of children). We opened up to each other in a way we haven’t done in years.

I tried to focus not only on my husband’s primary love language but also on his other love languages, including physical touch. Instead of wearily shrugging it off: “I’m too tired,” I began to take the first step. My efforts have been sincerely appreciated. At the end of each day, we followed Chapman’s advice and did what we called a “tank check.” We asked each other, “On a scale of zero to 10, how is your love tank today?” “The Reservoir of Love” is Chapman’s metaphor for how much love each person experiences. If your reservoir of love is not full, your spouse asks how he or she can fill it. Every time my husband and I asked each other that week, our vessels of love were full. Now we just had to figure out how to keep them that way.

Keep your love tank full

With a minimum of effort, couples can continue to speak each other’s love language. It only takes you a few minutes a day to find out what your partner needs. Then you try to satisfy that need.

Chapman says his Five Love Languages ​​won’t solve all of a couple’s problems, but they will address basic emotional needs. “If that need is met, you are more likely to be able to deal with other problems in your marriage,” he says. “It’s just another tool to help you improve relationships, and especially improve the emotional part of the relationship.”Nise agrees that Chapman’s approach could have a positive impact. “You can’t go wrong if you do a bunch of nice things for your spouse,” she says. “And it’s clear that it works.”It seems to work for my husband and me. Our reservoirs of love remain fairly full these days.

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