At SpiritQuest we support expanding our self-knowledge so we can better express our needs, and learn to love more fully. An open heart can see clearly and decisive actions follow, actions that can improve our ability to connect with others and see their needs. We need connection with others to lead fulfilling lives, yet most of us struggle with at least one relationship in our life.
The 5 Love Languages by Gary Chapman
One helpful tool to improve our self-awareness in the realm of love was developed by Gary Chapman, author, speaker, and counselor. The 5 Love Languages is a system, outlined in his book, to help you discover how to better connect with those you care about and how to more clearly express your needs. Whether you want to connect better with your child, a spouse, or a friend, the 5 Love Languages can be a fun and insightful resource.
The book outlines 5 basic “love languages,” that the author claims cover the most common ways people express and desire love. While we all have a little of each, one type usually predominates for everyone.
#1 Words of affirmation
Those that speak this language feel in their bones that words heal and words hurt. These people respond to encouragement, thank yous, and appreciation. If this is your partner’s or child’s language of love, avoid saying: I’m glad you did the dishes before they turned green. Instead, offer appreciation and gushing approval over their contributions. For these individuals insults aren’t easily forgotten and playful banter should exclude too many barbs. Say the words “I love you” often. Even better, follow it up with a specific reason why.
#2 Quality Time
To show love to these folks you need to put down the phone, look away from the computer, set down the fork, and look them in the eye. When they speak, which likely isn’t often (as those types that value quality time are usually all about, well, quality, not necessarily quantity). To these people, your undivided attention is what they crave. Stop and learn to really be present with your loved one, or you risk multi-taking your relationship away.
A hug, a kiss, a touch of the hand or cheek can qualify. These people need to rub shoulders with you, walk close, and feel your presence. For this type, even meeting eyes can feel like being touched. The truth is all of us need to be touched, and touch releases oxytocin, a natural love hormone, that makes us feel connected, loved, and calm. Dogs and their care-takers release this hormone during even a short pet-session. “Physical touch” people need touch more than average. So if this is your partner’s language, hold his/her hand and hang on an extra minute or two.
#4 Act of Service
Sometimes love isn’t all hugs and nice words, it’s willing to go out of your way to ease your partner’s burden. If your friend’s language of love is this type, you’ll need to show you care by being thoughtful and easing their burden before they ask. Even little acts say “I love you and I care.” So be thoughtful and clean the kitchen even if this is usually their “job.” Is your friend stressed, jump in an offer to help or take a task off their hands. Love is work sometimes and to this type, action speaks louder than words.
The person that loves giving and receiving gifts as expressions of love isn’t materialistic. They simply find the language of thoughtfulness, sacrifice, aesthetics and planning that goes into gift-giving to be a satisfying and expressive way of saying “I love you.” A good gift means, to this type, that you were paying attention, and are willing to go to some effort for them. It does’t always need to be big, even a note left in the right place can be seen as a gift.
Increase your awareness
Use your language of love, to better understand how to express your needs to a partner, or to simply work through your own feelings of disappointment. If in a relationship, you feel your partner or friend lets you down, can you shift your perspective and see how they ARE actually expressing love to you, but in their own way? This system is helpful not only in seeing how to better care for others though your actions, but to see ways people care for you that you may overlook since it isn’t your “language of love.”
Spiritquest offers personalized couples retreats for you and your partner, child, family-member, work relationship, or friend.