Before my husband and I got married, we were instructed to read The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman. I was completely sure that we had no need whatsoever to read this book and was relieved to find that it was short and a very easy read.
After I read it, I couldn’t wait to recommend it to everyone I knew who was in a relationship. I’ve recommended it several times since, and my mind always goes back to it when I’m feeling like something is “off” in my own marriage.
It’s simple, really, and makes perfect sense, at least to me. Chapman lays out the five languages that people use to express love:
- Acts of service
- Physical touch
- Words of affirmation
- Quality time
Two people who love each other may have a hard time showing each other just how much they care about them if they aren’t speaking the right language. Someone who really values quality time isn’t going to feel especially warm and fuzzy if their partner keeps giving gifts because that’s what makes them feel loved, for example.
There are a few ways to try to get your spouse to speak your love language, but to be fair, you’ll need to learn to speak his, too.
- Both of you could read the book. It’s a quick read and there’s a good chance that you could both read it over the course of a single week. The catch is, you need to discuss it with each other rather than jumping to conclusions. What your partner feels is his love language may not be the one you thought was his as you read the book.
- When he does do the “right” thing, gush about how much you appreciate it and how special it made you feel. In most marriages, spouses still want to please each other, so letting him know something he did made a huge impact on you will reinforce it and make him do more of it. It doesn’t matter if either of you have read the book in this case.
- Even if you’re not both reading the book, if you think you have his love language pinpointedâ€”or at least have it narrowed down to a fewâ€”try them out for a few days or a week at a time and see what kind of reaction you get. Whichever one gets the most positive response is most likely to be your spouse’s love language, and you’ll know to focus on that one. Once he’s feeling nice and loved, he’ll want to reciprocate. Hopefully, you’ll have had a chance to try suggestion number two by this point, so he’ll know how to do it.
- You could just be upfront with your spouse and tell him what your love language is and explain how you’d like him to use it. This could spark a conversation about what his might be, even if he hasn’t read the book (though I highly recommend making him at least skim it). Telling your husband you want him to buy you more gifts might not go over so well, especially without any context, though. Be sure you have time for a discussion to follow your remark, and don’t do it when either of you is emotional or during an argument. Try not to start the request with, “You never…” but instead, “I really like it when…” and then finish it with something along the lines of, “It makes me feel really special.”
I highly recommend reading the book to get a fuller grasp of what each love language entails, getting your spouse to read the book, discussing the languages you speak or think you speak, and trying to implement the right language or languages into your relationship. When my husband and I make a conscious effort to go back to what we learned in the book, there’s a big difference in how we interact over the course of the day.
Photo credit: Caro Wallis