Updated: Jul 26
Everyone sends and receives love in different ways. It can be frustrating and discouraging when you work hard to show love and you make a significant effort to show affection, but it is not received. Why would this occur? You are speaking the wrong love language.
You can shower someone with gifts, but they will not get the love signal if they are waiting for a hug. Or you can do hundreds of acts of service, but it is not considered an act of love when the receiver is wanting quality time together.
Understanding love languages can help you communicate what you need from others, but also recognize what they need from you. Leeanne Morgan communicates the point fantastically in this short video. It is definitely worth the watch!
There are 5 Love Languages identified by Gary Chapman:
Acts of Service
This is doing things for the other person. It might be filling the gas tank, washing the dishes, or running errands. It is showing that you care by lightening the load for someone you love. For kids, it might be helping with homework or a school project, working with them on their chores, or giving more playtime while you cover a job they should be doing.
Related Post: Let Them Be: Giving Children Freedom to Grow and Learn
Giving and Receiving Gifts
Some people love to receive gifts! However, they do not always have to be expensive. They typically are moved by the thoughtfulness of the gift more than the monetary value. It could be picking some wildflowers on your way home, making a thoughtful card, or picking up something from the store that is special to them.
This is not necessarily sexual contact. It includes hugs, cuddling, or hand-holding. Physical touch is important in all close relationships. Skin-on-skin contact makes your body produce oxytocin, which is a bonding hormone. It sends signals to the brain that you are connected and stimulates feelings of love. Huge amounts of oxytocin are released when a mother nurses their newborn, which helps with the mother-child bond soon after birth.
This is simply being together but in a meaningful way. For some watching a movie makes the cut, but for others, it may include deep conversation. It is setting aside time that is specific for that person. It involves being intentional about connection and focusing on that person specifically.
Words of Affirmation
Sometimes the soul longs to hear words of acceptance, thankfulness, or affirmation. A simple thank you for something that was done in love can go a long way with people who love words of affirmation. It also helps to call them beautiful/handsome or admire their creations. They love edification and their love cup overflows when someone fills it with affirming words.
Most people desire more than one love language and what is desired can change during different seasons of life. For instance, a young mother may not want a lot of physical touches because she has had little hands all over her all day. But when the kids grow and are no longer in her lap, she may crave touch. Gifts may be deeply meaningful when money is tight for a young couple but may not seem as significant when the finances are there to buy whatever they want. Words of affirmation are powerful when working on overcoming something that is taking a toll on self-confidence.
The 5 Love Languages website offers a quiz to help you identify your love language. You can find it here: https://www.5lovelanguages.com/quizzes/love-language
Communicating love in the language that your family needs can make a powerful impact on feeling connected, wanted, and appreciated. It can also help take the mystery out of why your efforts seemed to have failed in the past.