Discovering your Love Language with your partner is one of the biggest reasons that couples come to counselling. We all have the need to feel loved, valued and trusted by our loves ones. Many couples, particularly those who have been with their partners for a long time have been doing things the same way. We seek our emotional needs to be met and supported, however some partners never express appreciation or affection and, as a result, they struggle to grow in the relationship.
Sometimes the issue is about how affection is being expressed and does the other person know my love language. Take the quiz with Redland's Counselling Service Capalaba and grow in your relationship.
We all have different ways of showing someone that we care about them. Let's explore what the five love languages.
The five ‘love languages’
The main love languages research by Garry Chapman are:
1. Giving gifts.
This might include buying flowers or chocolates – physical items intended to please your partner and show you’ve been thinking about them.
2. Acts of service.
This could be something like cleaning the car for your partner or picking up the shopping. Regardless whether its a small or large gesture this a act of service.
3. Quality time.
This could be putting aside a whole evening to spend in each other’s company so you can really reconnect.
4. Physical touch.
This could be walking along holding hands, giving hugs, receiving a neck massage. Sensual gestures to make you feel physically closer together.
5. Words of affirmation.
This could be paying compliments: ‘your dress looks really nice’, ‘I love you’, ‘you’re such a patient person’ or affirmations of how you feel about each other.
Most people have one or two main ‘love languages’ that they use to express their affection. The key is to learn your partner's and fill their needs for affection.
So someone who feels that spending quality time together is the most natural way of expressing and developing affection might really appreciate it if their partner puts aside an evening for them to go on a date or have dinner. If this is meeting their love language of quality time then many the other partner might express their affection through connecting with physically touch, hold hands,kissing or a back rub.
Sometimes we express affection that doesn't mean all that much to us or our partner, for example, perhaps receiving gifts doesn’t really do it for you and partner brings home flowers. The key to meeting each other's needs is speaking the same language.
Where do we learn our love language?
How we express affection is often influenced by what we see and learnt childhood to adolescence. If your family liked spending lots of quality time together, for instance, you might value the same things in a partner. If there was embarrassment at expressing feelings verbally or physically, this may continue into adulthood. However, there are no real hard and fast rules – we may make a choice to do things differently in our adult relationships. In the end, we express affection the way we do because that’s what makes the most sense to us.
If you have troubles expressing your emotions, Redland's Counselling does relationship counselling, you can book here.
When you speak different languages
If you and your partner are speaking different ‘love languages’ without realising it, that’s when there can be room for miscommunication – and dissatisfaction.
You might both end up feeling like the other doesn’t say or do anything to show they care, and may end up wondering whether they care at all.
For instance, if someone really values kind acts, but their partner’s way of expressing love is, say, buying gifts, they may feel like they aren’t having their needs met. Likewise, their partner may feel the bunch of flowers they bought the other day was a really nice way of showing they care, but was put out by their partner’s underwhelmed reaction.
Over time, this kind of miscommunication can really drive a wedge in a relationship. Both partners may start to feel they’re doing all they can, but that it’s still not enough to make each other happy. As a result, they can start to feel bitter and resentful.
How can you address this?
For a relationship to grow with love you both need to understand each other’s needs.
You and your partner may need to explore how you both feel most comfortable expressing – and receiving – affection. If you think you might find this conversation difficult, you might like to think about the following:
1. Give it time and space.
Don’t try to talk when one of you is busy, tired or getting ready to go out. Set aside a time when you’ll be able to chat uninterrupted. It can also be a good idea to choose nice, comfortable surroundings – in the living room with a cup of tea, for instance.
2. Focus on feelings.
You might like to use lots of ‘I’ statements in your language, for example, ‘I sometimes feel’, ‘I don’t always know how to’, rather than ‘you’ statements ‘You make me feel’, ‘You never seem to'. Your partner is more likely to be defensive, this way you are taking responsibility for your emotions and your partner is less likely to feel like they’re being accused of things.
3. Start on a positive.
Sometimes, it can help to begin by focusing on what you like about the relationship: ‘I love that we can rely on each other for the big stuff, but I was hoping we could talk about some day to day things’. This can get things off to a more positive start and help you partner understand you aren’t just trying to get at them.
How Redlands Counselling can help
If you think you and your partner could do with help talking about any of the above, Relationship Counselling can be a great way having conversations that you might otherwise find difficult. I (Matt Counsellor) will help keep things calm and constructive, and everything you say is completely confidential.
If you wish to build better connections in your relationship, contact Matt at Redland's Counselling Service for Marriage Counselling.