So many times couples come into couples counseling feeling totally unappreciated and undervalued. And it’s not because their partner doesn’t show them appreciation. It’s because the way their partner is expressing love and care is getting missed. And, as hard as they try, they’re two ships passing in the night.
Over time, not feeling appreciated and valued by your partner takes a toll on the person and the relationship. Unintentionally one (or both) might look elsewhere for that validation. Suddenly a friend or coworker is showing them the kind of appreciation that they had hoped to get from their spouse. And an emotional affair begins.
Now there are a lot of components to this phenomenon. It would be an oversimplification to say that knowing your partner’s love languages will prevent affairs. But it certainly helps. Because feeling loved by your partner fuels connection. And connection is the anecdote to affairs.
How Do I Figure Out My Partner’s Love Language?
Gary Chapman came up with five ways that people express and experience love. We generally like receiving all of them but certain ones feel more meaningful to us. And we typically express love to our partner and family through a few primary ones. So what are the five love languages?
First is Words of Affirmation. Saying “I love you” or telling your partner how beautiful/handsome they are fit into this category. Are you someone who constantly giving/seeking validation through words? People who show love through words of affirmation are very upfront about how much they care about their partner, family, and friends. People who experience love through words of affirmation often ask for verbal feedback.
Second is Acts of Service. Do you feel like action speaks louder than words? People who show love through acts of service go over and beyond for their partner, family, and friends. They fix things, make things, and do generally unpleasant work to show that they care. People who experience love through acts of service want others to prove that they love them through doing mundane (yet thoughtful) things for them.
Third is Gifts. For people who show love through gifts, these are often thoughtful purchases. For some, receiving a gift is how they feel loved and valued. It’s not about having the flashiest item. It’s about their partner/family member/friend knowing them so well that they got the perfect gift.
Fourth is Quality Time. For some people, getting their partner’s undivided attention is love. Being able to experience new things together and/or have long meaningful talks makes them feel loved and connected. People who show love this way are the ones who put their phone down during conversations and actively plan dates and couple-centered time.
Fifth is Physical Touch. Think about the cuddlers and huggers in your life. This is them. Nothing makes them feel more soothed or loved than loving physical tough. People who experience love through touch are often hand holders and shameless PDAers. Not because they don’t care about others reactions but it is an affirmation of love. They show love through hugs, handholding, and caressing.
For some people this is enough to deduce their love language and start a conversation with their partner about it. Others might benefit from reading the book or taking the Five Love Languages quiz. And, as always, if there is any way that I can support you and your relationship, feel free to reach out. I’d love to hear from you!