4 Minutes 4 Marriage – Love Languages

Do you sometimes miscommunicate so badly that you wonder if your spouse speaks a completely different language?

Do you honestly love your spouse, but can’t figure out why he or she doesn’t believe you?

Gary Chapman, in The Five Love Languages: How to Express Heartfelt Commitment to Your Mate, asserts that many times relationships flounder because the two parties speak different languages and can’t understand each other. Of course, he doesn’t mean this literally. Rather, we each grow up experiencing love in certain ways and expect to express and receive love that way. If our spouse had different experiences of love, even though we are showing each other our affection, neither party may feel loved.

Chapman believes we demonstrate our love in five ways. We tend to focus on one of the ways, or perhaps two. So does our spouse. If they match, our emotional reservoir fills to overflowing. If not, we run dry, and eventually have no love left to return.

Consider how your spouse shows you and others in your family affection. Then read the expressions of love below and choose which category describes how your spouse shows love. That is probably the primary way your partner wants you to love him or her. Can’t choose between two? Wonderful! You can be bilingual and have twice as many ways to show your beloved how much you care.

    Words of Appreciation – People who demonstrate and feel love verbally thrive on a simple thank you. On having others notice their efforts and express approval. On a kind tone of voice or a sincere compliment. Words of encouragement will inspire a willingness to take on challenges. A request for or an expression of forgiveness melts the heart and opens it to love. Use your words to affirm and express gratitude to your spouse.


    Quality time – Undivided attention from loved ones makes us feel we are a priority in their lives. Spending time together watching TV doesn’t count. Focusing on each other’s thoughts and feelings, excluding other distractions, does.

      A person who shows and feels love through quality time will thrive on conversation when both individuals offer self-revelation by sharing their thoughts, feelings, experiences, and desires. Sharing feelings may be foreign for many of us, and first we must discover what feelings we actually are experiencing before we can express them. But intimacy will grow if we do. Quiet people must learn to share themselves; speed talkers must learn to listen.

      Others who focus on quality time might value quality experiences more than conversation. They emphasize activities together, but still with undivided attention. Is there an activity you know your partner would love you to participate in? Join with a positive, enthusiastic spirit and watch the joy it brings to your relationship.

        Gifts – Many people experience and show love by giving gifts that are symbolic of their affection. Think of your wedding rings. They are precious, not because of the metal, but because of their meaning to you and your spouse. For people who demonstrate love with gifts, knowing that their beloved was thinking of them when they chose a flower, wrote a note on a card, or selected a gift warms their soul.

          Acts of Service – Does your spouse delight in doing little things to please others? To people who feel and show love through acts of service, actions speak louder than words. Yard or house maintenance can symbolize your love. Likewise, they might feel unloved when you don’t get around to the requests they’ve made.

            You may be doing many things for each other, but what will show your love the best is to do the things that are important to your spouse. If you’d like your spouse’s love to grow, ask, “What can I do to help you today?” Then follow through cheerfully, if at all possible.

            Physical touch – For some people, physical touch expresses their principal love language. Caresses, holding hands, or making love fills them with the assurance that they are loved. Different families of origin communicate affection with differing levels of touch. If you were raised in a reserved family, you might struggle to become comfortable with huggy in-laws, but if your spouse needs more touch, your marriage is worth the effort. Learn to touch her hand as you converse, to snuggle next to him on the couch, to hold her when she cries. If your spouse usually initiates intimacy, surprise him or her and take a more active role.


            If you aren’t sure of your spouse’s love language, think of what he or she complains about you not doing, or criticizes how you do it. Perhaps he or she is expressing a deep need, though not in an effective way. Ask for clarification, “This sounds very important to you. Can you explain to me why, so I can understand you better?”

            Find the particular ways that your unique, delightful spouse experiences love, and then concentrate on expressing your love in the way your beloved understands. May your love take on new life!

            Bible verses to ponder:

            Give, and you will receive. Your gift will return to you in full—pressed down, shaken together to make room for more, running over, and poured into your lap. The amount you give will determine the amount you get back. Luke 6:38 NLV

            Dear children, let’s not merely say that we love each other; let us show the truth by our actions. 1 John 3-18 NLV

            Extra Credit – Which love language do you use to express your love for God? Try a new one!

            Betty Arrigotti

            If you’d like to read more: Chapman, Gary (1992) The Five Love Languages: How to Express Heartfelt Commitment to Your Mate. Moody Press.

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