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:
- Words of affirmation: compliments or words of encouragement
- Quality time: their partner’s undivided attention
- Receiving gifts: symbols of love such as flowers or chocolates.
- Acts of service: set the table, walk the dog, or do other small work.
- 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,
What is my love language?
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.
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.
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.