Love in Action Series: Expressing Love in Your Spouse’s Language
Dr. Gary Chapman, in his bestselling book, The Five Love Languages, identifies several primary love languages that can be expressed in a marital relationship. They are: words of affirmation, quality time, receiving gifts, acts of service and meaningful touch. I have added sexual expression and spiritual affirmation to the list of the “languages” that we use to express love to our spouses.
When you discover your spouse’s “love language” you need to “speak” it to them.
Words or phrases of affirmation. One way to express love emotionally is to have your partner use words or phrases that build up, compliment, encourage, show appreciation and support for you. One way to determine whether or not this is your primary love language is how you feel when these statements are not communicated to you. Some people need to hear these more often while others may not need this as much to be affirmed.
Which of these statements of affirmation are important to your feeling loved?:
- I love you!
- I need you!
- I believe in you!
- I appreciate you!
- You are special to me!
- Thank you!
- Other __________________________________________________________________
What kinds of statements or affirmations would be helpful for strengthening your marriage and how often?
Quality time. A central aspect of quality time is togetherness. Togetherness has to do with giving focused attention to another. It means that you are sharing time and/or activities with your partner and giving them undivided attention. If this is your primary area for experiencing love, and it is not being met you will experience loneliness and loss in your relationship.
List three ideas or activities that you want your partner to share with you and how often? It is doing something with your marriage partner that helps affirm and strengthen the marriage. It’s building good memories!
Receiving gifts. Gifts are visual symbols of love and visual symbols of love are more important to some people than to others. These are gifts or items such as flowers, cards, personal items that come in all sizes, colors, and shapes, often when least expected. For the individual whose primary love language is receiving gifts, the cost of the gift will matter little unless it is greatly out of line with what can be afforded.. It is a gift from the heart saying, “I love you. You are very special to me.”
List three gifts that you would like to receive and how often?
Acts of service. This is doing things you know your partner would like you to do for them. You seek to please your partner by completing tasks and finalizing projects for your partner. An example of this may happen in the home itself. When the items around the house never get taken care of or completed it may contribute to a wife feeling like her husband doesn’t love her. When we say we are going to do something but fail to deliver, it can hurt!
List three tasks or projects that you would like your marriage partner to do or to complete for you.
Meaningful touch. This is a powerful vehicle for communicating marital love. This is an important love language for most marriages. The lack of meaningful touch in your relationship may lead to feelings of unimportance or neglect. It is continual touch that communicates you are loved.
Which of these are important for you to experience meaningful touch and how often?
- Holding hands__________________________
- Being hugged __________________________
- Getting kissed__________________________
- A pat on the back or shoulder _________________________________
- Touching of the arm ________________________________________
Sexual Expression. Dr. Chapman had included this expression with meaningful touch, but I separated it because I believe it is a different expression of love. This love language expresses itself through romance, sexual foreplay and intercourse. It is an expression of love, through which there is sexual touch and intercourse that communicates love to your marriage partner.
Sometimes our response in this area can be unrealistic and demanding. This may be based on what we think is normal, as well as, our own experiences in relationships prior to marriage. If one has been sexually abused this may lead to an inhibition of sexual activity with their marriage partner or an exploitation of one’s sexual activity.
I would highly recommend for couples getting married and for those who are married the resource, Getting Your Sex Life Off to a Great Start by Dr. Cliff & Joyce Penner.
- Do you feel your sexual relationship is healthy?
- How important is this love language for you in your relationship?
- Do you feel it is being neglected or abused? If so how does this make you feel?
- What would you like to be different?
Spiritual Affirmation. Your faith is important to you, so much so, that without the spiritual affirmation and support from your marriage partner you experience a distancing and a loss of closeness. It is experiencing spiritual affirmation that communicates love and support.
- How would you describe your relationship and faith in God?
- What is your partner doing that affirms your spirituality?
- What could your partner do to show more affirmation and support of your spiritual convictions?
Dr. Chapman gives this advice when it comes to expressing love in your partner’s love language: “When we discover the primary love language of our marriage partner we choose to speak it whether or not it is natural for us. We are not claiming to have warm, excited feelings. We are simply choosing to do it for our partner’s benefit.”
“When an action doesn’t come naturally to you, it is a greater expression of love!”
“Love doesn’t erase the past, but makes the future different. When we choose active expressions of love in the primary love language of our spouse, we create an emotional climate where we can deal with our past conflicts and failures.”
May I add: All couples need to understand that no individual can totally or completely meet all the needs of another person. The bible tells us that God is love and that He is the ultimate source of our love. Seek to cultivate your relationship with God to improve your capability of truly loving one another.
And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. I John 4:16a
by: Dr. Dale Goodman