Unless you’ve been living “off the grid” for the past thirty years or so, you’ve most likely heard of Gary Chapman’s book, The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love that Lasts. In it, he explains that we all naturally give and receive love in one of five primary ways: Acts of Service, Receiving Gifts, Physical Touch, Words of Affirmation, or Quality Time.
When you see them listed this way, you probably already know which one speaks to you, and hopefully, you also know which one is your spouse’s primary love language. My husband and I read the book shortly after it came out, and we quickly identified my love language as Acts of Service, and his as Physical Touch (followed closely by Words of Affirmation).
Sometimes, even when we know our spouse’s love language, we need a phrase that sums it up for us, a special code that lets our spouse know we are striving to love them in the way that they most appreciate. It helps if it’s short and sweet enough to convey our love in the moment. We have kept ours to four-word sentences. I’ll share a few of ours, and you can have fun making up your own!
Acts of Service – “How can I help?” – This is most often said when we’re getting ready to have company for dinner or trying to get out the door to an event. As a young wife, I wanted my husband to read my mind (Shouldn’t he just know?), but I realized a few years into marriage how unrealistic that was. He has concerns, tasks, and worries of his own to take care of, so to expect him to read my mind is an exercise in frustration. Now when he says, “How can I help?” I hear it as “I love you so much! You’re important to me!”
Physical Touch – “I have an idea…” – While physical touch does not always have to equal sex, it often will with a spouse who feels most loved this way. When I put thought into our times of intimacy, it tells my husband that I want him to feel loved. Of course, an arm around the shoulders, a hug, or holding your spouse’s hand can express love to them using no words at all!
Words of Affirmation – “I’m proud of you.” – Do you ever catch yourself thinking positive things about your spouse, but neglecting to say it out loud? Yeah, me too. Let’s try to focus on the wonderful things about our spouse, and then say the words to them. My husband remembers things I said to encourage him decades ago!
Quality Time – “Let’s do that together.” – If your spouse’s love language is quality time, every task, every meal, and every walk in the park is enhanced by spending it with someone they love. Some of the loneliest people on earth are married people because their spouse stops spending quality time with them on a regular basis.
Receiving Gifts – “I thought of you.” – You might not say these four words out loud, but the message is received loud and clear! It can be as simple as bringing them a candy bar you grabbed in the checkout line because you know it’s their favorite. What makes a person feel loved when they receive a gift is 1) the giver was thinking about them, and 2) the giver knows them well enough to know what they’d like.
Will any of us do this perfectly? Probably not. But even a little effort in this area goes a long way to help your spouse feel loved.
On your next date night, talk with your spouse about your primary love languages (and maybe your secondary ones, too). Then, have fun creating your own code sentences to use in the future!