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Do You Know Your Partner's Love Language?

There’s a funny joke that says 90% of being married is just shouting, ‘What?!’ from other rooms. While that’s funny, and perhaps slightly accurate at my house, it also holds a disturbing truth. More and more couples are struggling to effectively communicate with one another. A recent survey from found that after polling 100 mental health experts, 65% stated that communication problems were the leading cause of divorces.

If we want our relationship to thrive, we need to be paying attention to communication- or more importantly, how often we seem to be miscommunicating. Have you ever felt like your partner expects you to be a mind reader? Or been frustrated because you just aren’t getting through to each other? That is because we all express and receive love differently. Do you feel most valued when someone compliments you or when someone steps in to do the dishes so you can have a break? If one partner expresses love by physical affection (hugging, hand holding etc.) and the other partner receives love through gifts, there’s going to be disconnect. That disconnect can soon grow into a pattern of miscommunication that feels difficult to rectify.

Gary Chapman, long time marriage counselor, breaks this down for us simply and effectively in his book The Five Languages of Love (1992). The five love languages, as defined by Chapman, are:

Words of Affirmation

Mark Twain once said that he could live for two months on a good compliment. For those who define their love language as “words of affirmation,” Twain’s statement rings true. Things like compliments and verbal recognition of contribution and appreciation go a long way with these people.

Acts of Service

Sometimes a clean dish is not just a clean dish. For those who identify with “acts of service,” a clean dish is an expression of love. They feel appreciated when someone does a chore for them such as picking the kids up from day care or clearing the table after a big holiday meal.

Quality Time

Quality time is not about spending an endless amount of time together but rather getting the most out of your time together. Ensuring that you are setting special time apart for your friend, partner, or family member without being distracted by a screen can be a great way to tell them how special they are to you.

Receiving Gifts

The biggest misconception that may occur with this love language is that the gifts need to be extravagant or expensive. In fact, what the receiver wants is a physical representation that you were thinking about them when he/she was not around. This can be as simple as bringing home a baked good that you know they would like or picking a flower that you thought he/she would appreciate.

Physical Affection

This love language may be one of the ones most commonly associated with the idea of a healthy relationship but remember, if one or both partners identify with another love language more predominantly, then you cannot exist on caviar alone. Physical affection can be acts as simple as a quick hug, a squeeze of the hands, or a pat on the back. Feeling physically connected is a priority for those who value physical affection.

Further information about assessing your own love language and going deeper into their meaning can be found by visiting Understanding how you and your partner both give and receive love will help to ensure those displays are received in a meaningful way. When you start using your partner’s language of love, you will find your communication greatly improves, and you will stop shouting “what?!” into your relationship.

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