A Valentine’s Day Conversation for You and Your Spouse: What is Your Love Language?

A Valentines Day Conversation | Christian Mom ThoughtsSince the dawn of time, I’ve been pestering my husband Bryan to be more affectionate. Nothing makes me feel more loved than when he stops whatever he is doing to give me a simple hug and kiss. Over our 13 years of marriage, my requests for affection have ranged from gentle reminders to frustrated pleas: “Why can’t you just hug me more?!”

Now, I do have to tell you that I have the most amazing husband imaginable. He is truly my best friend and soul mate. I thank God every day that somehow He chose me to marry this incredible man. He is just a little “affection challenged.”

At some point in the last couple of years, Bryan agreed to be open to a gentle reminder when he hasn’t been affectionate for a while. This worked quite well until I had particularly poor timing with one such reminder.

Bryan had been working all afternoon on various household tasks when he came downstairs for dinner. He hadn’t been very affectionate lately, and when he went straight to his chair without giving me a hug, I decided it was time to issue a “reminder.”

“Can I at least have a hug? You haven’t been very affectionate lately,” I said flatly.

Bryan looked at me, unmoved. “What do you want from me? I was just changing the air filters for us. If I didn’t love you, I wouldn’t take the time to do this stuff.”

Air filters? Air filters.

Air. Filters.

I want a hug and get an air filter? At that moment, the utter futility of expressing my need for affection swallowed me whole.

It wasn’t long after that event that I came across the best-selling book “The 5 Love Languages” by Dr. Gary Chapman. The insights I took from it were invaluable for understanding the role of air filters in our home.

The premise of the book is that there are five primary ways people feel loved. Most people can identify one of these ways as most important for them personally. Though the book obviously explains these “love languages” in more depth, it boils down to this:

Words of Affirmation: You feel most appreciated when someone verbally expresses his/her love.

Acts of Service: You feel most appreciated based on the loving things someone does for you.

Affection: You feel most appreciated when someone expresses his/her love physically.

Quality Time: You feel most appreciated based on the amount of quality time someone gives you.

Gifts: You feel most appreciated when someone shows love with gifts, no matter how small.

My big “aha!” moment came when Chapman described the best way to figure out your love language: just look at how you express love to others. We tend to assume others want to be treated the way we do, and love others accordingly.

That sparked a realization for me like one of those mystery movie moments where someone at the end recalls all the clues in rapid succession.

Bryan is doing things for me all the time – his language is “acts of service.” He takes my car to the car wash, fixes my computer problems, spends time editing family videos, takes on more household chores than any other man I know, and makes me lots of coffee.

He has lovingly poured his heart out to me for the last 13 years. I just didn’t understand what he was saying. He speaks air filters. I speak hugs.

This insight strengthened our marriage significantly. We realized we had to stop relying on our own preferred language as a means of expressing our love and start making the effort to speak the other’s language. An amazing thing happened. We finally started hearing each other. As I started doing more “acts of service,” Bryan started being more affectionate. And we both felt more loved.

To this day, when I do something I wouldn’t have done had I not been thinking of Bryan’s language, I announce, “act of service!” Likewise, he announces, “this is a hug!” It’s become a fun way of letting the other person know, “I’m thinking of you and care that you hear I love you.”

This Valentine’s Day, look at these “love languages” with your spouse. Talk about which language you each speak and how you can better express your love to one another!

Can you identify your language and your spouse’s language just by looking at the list? Which language(s) do you speak? 

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Comments

  1. I don’t have a spouse, but i do have a lovely adopted daughter. Her love language is most certainly a language of hugs. She loves nothing more than a good cuddle…and I’m more than happy to oblige (usually). Kids have love languages, too. How can I love her better? Bears thinking about.

    • I’m so glad you mentioned that Julie! It’s absolutely true – in fact, he has a whole other book that is the love languages of children. It’s the exact same material, but applied to kids, and that concept has been equally helpful to me in terms of understanding my children. I just applied it here to marriage, but you couldn’t be more right. Thank you!!

  2. How about a whole family Valentine’s day celebration using love languages? (http://www.cornerstonesforparents.com/celebrate-valentines-day-family-style)
    As you so eloquently stated, love is only “heard” if it is spoken in the right language! A great reminder!

  3. My husband and I went through the Love Languages book as well. Our results were quite interesting. We didn’t really dominantly score in any one area. (Well, that’s not totally true…I think by about a point or two we had a specific love language, but it really wasn’t enough to say YES this is how I need to be loved) We love all languages of love. Lol! Which kind of makes sense given our personalities. We’re both incredibly easy going and always “worry” that the other might think our actions are not love based. So we cover all bases. Act of service is given with affection and words of affirmation…all bundled up. Love when you write about marriage stuff too. A strong marriage is the foundation for happy kiddos. :)

    • How interesting, Rosann! You’re a “love language mutt.” :) I’m not sure if that makes it easier (you can love in any way and be heard) or harder (you don’t have one way to focus on)! The book did mention that most people identify with multiple areas, it’s just that usually there is one that dominates to some degree. It’s so warm and fuzzy that you love all love! lol

      Thanks for the encouragement on writing about marriage…I will try to do more!

  4. YES! My husband and I had been married for 8 years when we took a class on Love Languages. I must say, it was “marriage changing!” And interestingly enough, we both ended up with the SAME love language! Words of Affirmation. However, I am sure that the order in which the other 4 languages falls is slightly different. It was fun find out that we both “spoke” the same love language, but didn’t USE it as often as we should. For me, it’s a simple “hey, thanks for folding and putting away all of that laundry!” (even though I do 100% of the laundry in our house). And for him, it’s “Hon, thanks so much for this awesome dinner. It’s SO good!” (even though he does 99% of the cooking in our house).
    I definitely recommend this book — or at the very least, find the Love Language Quiz online and fill it out — then discuss. It could be marriage changing for anyone — even if you have been married for 10 or 15 years! :)

  5. Wow, have you been in my house! This is my exact story. Married 13 years and everything! Thanks for the eye opener!

  6. What is worth considering here is that someone can abuse through love languages too… say someone’s love language is acts of service, but someone else’s is words, and they figure they’re safe because they do all kinds of acts of service – but then verbally abuse and tear the other person down constantly. Guess which message is going to be received. And this is full knowing the damage they are causing. It’s almost as if they don’t care – as long as they express “love” in their own love language, it shouldn’t matter what else they do. Worth being careful about.

  7. Johnny Vega says:

    “Air filters? Air filters. Air. Filters.” CLASSIC CRAIN! Great advice. And so very entertaining. :)

  8. I’ve thought about this before, and I have to say that my love language doesn’t fall into any one catagory. Instead, I would call it “Effort and thoughtfulness.” I am touched by anything that he does or says as long as I know that he was being thoughtful about it, putting effort into something because he was thinking of me. It could be bringing flowers home, giving me a hug, complimenting dinner, or doing the dishes for me. Doesn’t matter what it is. If it’s from his heart, it melts mine. I remember once being bothered that he had gone downstairs to do dishes and wasn’t up by the family upstairs. I thought he was escaping, until he told me that he knew how much I did that day and wanted to do the dishes so I didn’t have to. He was thinking of me. And I almost missed it and got mad at him instead. I’m sure that I have missed many messages because I assume that his motives are selfish. I like that you guys verbalize it. That’s a healthy, good thing.

    • Heather, I like “effort and thoughtfulness”! It sounds like you are an overall easy going person. Your husband probably really appreciates that you appreciate him in so many ways. It takes your own thoughtfulness to appreciate love in so many ways. Thank you for sharing!

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