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Natural Awakenings

The Five Love Languages: Learn how to Speak Love to Your Partner

Feb 01, 2009 03:00AM ● By Gary Chapman

I am convinced that no single area affects a relationship as much as meeting the individual emotional need for love. We must learn to speak our partner’s love language if we want them to feel loved. Here’s how to tune in.

Words of Affirmation

Mark Twain once said, “I can live for two months on a good compliment.” Verbal appreciation speaks powerfully to persons whose primary love language is words of affirmation. Simple statements of approval and encouragement are sometimes all a person needs to hear to feel loved.

Quality Time

Quality time is more than proximity. It’s focusing all our energy on our partner. Quality conversation—sharing experiences, thoughts, feelings and desires in a friendly, uninterrupted context—is crucial to a healthy relationship. A good partner listens, offers advice and responds. Most people don’t expect us to solve their problems; they simply need a sympathetic listener.

Quality activities are equally essential. Spending time together enjoying shared interests brings a couple closer and fills a memory bank for future mutual reminiscences.

Receiving Gifts

Some people respond well to visual symbols of love, treasuring any gift as an expression of affection. Fortunately, this love language is one of the easiest to learn.

Natural spenders have no trouble buying gifts for their partner. However, a partner accustomed to investing and saving may have a tough time spending money as an expression of love. It helps to understand that the true investment is not in the gifts, but in deepening the relationship. Gifts need not come every day or week or cost a lot. If a partner relates to the language of gifts, any visible sign of love will leave them feeling happy and secure.

Sometimes all a partner desires is a loved one’s presence, navigating the same trials and experiencing the same things. The gift of self can become a powerful physical symbol of love.

Acts of Service

Performing simple chores around the house is another undeniable expression of love. Even simple tasks require planning, time and effort.

Often, both partners render acts of service. The key is to understand which acts a partner most appreciates; otherwise, it’s like communicating in two different dialects. Effective service sometimes means humbly stepping out of gender stereotypes.

It is important to act out of love and not obligation. A partner whose help is motivated by guilt or fear will inevitably speak a language of resentment, not love. Heartfelt acts come from a place of kindness and help ensure happiness.

Physical Touch

Many mates feel most loved when they receive physical contact from their partner. For a mate who speaks this love language loudly, physical touch can make or break the relationship.

Sexual intercourse can engender feelings of security and love in a marriage, but it is only one dialect of physical touch. Many parts of the body are extremely sensitive to stimulation. Discovering how our partner responds to these touches, physically and psychologically, can help us become fluent in this love language, which is different for everyone.

We need to learn the touches our mate likes. They may be big acts—such as back massages or lovemaking—or smaller gestures—like a hand on the cheek or shoulder. By learning each other’s dialects, we can communicate most lovingly through our hugging, kissing and other physical contacts.

Dr. Gary Chapman is the author of numerous books, including The Five Love Languages series, written for couples, singles and children. A relationship counselor, he speaks to thousands of couples nationwide through his weekend marriage conferences and syndicated radio program, A Growing Marriage. Visit

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