I'm a big fan of the Love Languages, and I talk about them here quite often. Taking the time to learn what makes your spouse feel loved and then intentionally loving them in a way that they understand, but also in the way that comes naturally to you is great! However, there are a few things that I've heard from people who feel that knowing their love languages isn't doing anything for them. If you're one of those people who doesn't feel like they make much of a difference in your marriage, these five tips are for you!
Recognize when your love languages shift
Before Joe and I got married, and even right afterward, my top love language was Quality time with Physical Touch following closely behind. A few years later, when I was waist deep in homework and full time work, I retook the quiz and discovered that Acts of Service came in first with Quality Time and Physical Touch still right up there as well. Now that we have kids, Acts of Service is an even bigger deal to me. I'd recommend taking the quiz again every so often to see how your love languages are currently ranking.
Verbalize what you need to feel love
Just because your spouse knows what your love language is doesn't mean that they will automatically know what you personally need in order to feel loved. If your love language is Words of Affirmation, your spouse may start leaving love notes around the house for you when what you'd really appreciate is for them to thank you for the things that you are doing in your home and for your marriage on a regular basis. If there is something that you really need from your spouse in order to feel loved, like 10 minutes of quality, no technology allowed time a day or a 30 second hug when you walk in the door from work, don't be afraid to let them know.
Recognize when your spouse is speaking their love language
Although your spouse may be aware of your love language, you can't expect them to do the things that make you feel loved 100% of the time. What comes naturally to them is what their love language is. It's important to be aware of those times when, although they may not be doing something that you easily recognize and appreciate, your spouse may be showing you love in their own way.
An example; Physical Touch is Joe's top love language and Acts of Service is my top love language. Some nights when he gets home from work, the kids are both going crazy and I'm working hard to get dinner on the table. Joe will often come up behind me to give me a hug while I'm cooking or cleaning up the dinner mess. It used to irritate me because rather than harassing me, I wished he was playing with the kids or helping with clean up. One day I realized that I was being silly. Joe wasn't harassing me, he was showing me love and I needed to accept and appreciate that rather than being annoyed and rejecting his efforts.
Focus on the other love languages too
I have my one main love language, the one that I appreciate the most, but I'd be lying if I said I didn't appreciate the others. Acts of Service and Quality Time are the things that make my heart sing the most, but I find myself appreciating and even longing for Physical Touch, Words of Affirmation and Gifts every now and then. The thing that I love the most about the love languages is that they focus on being intentional and making a conscious effort. So even though your spouse's top love language might be Physical Touch and the love language that they scored the lowest on was Words of Affirmation. Don't completely neglect praising and complimenting your spouse or verbally letting them know that you love them.
Use the love languages to pick out the perfect gift
My favorite thing about the love languages is that, even if your spouse doesn't speak the language of Gifts, you can use their love language to pick out the perfect present. Sometimes I give Joe a gift that is really just a gift, but I also like to incorporate Physical Touch and Quality Time into his presents in a way that I know he'll appreciate. One of the things that Joe and I do, because both of us appreciate Quality Time, is spend a night or two away together to celebrate our birthdays every October. We'd rather spend money on that time and experience than an object that we think the other person would like.
I also always suggest that people read the book (affiliate link). I read it once a year and my copy is well loved with sections underlined and lots of notes in the margins. It's a quick read, but really inspiring and I learn something new every time I read it. I'm always surprised when I meet someone who's never heard of The 5 Love Languages or who has heard of them but never bothered to learn more about them or discover what theirs is. I was that person once though, and someone convinced me to take the test and I've been hooked ever since. I even got Joe to take the quiz on the night we met. I'm not sure how it came up in our conversation, or what I said to convince him to take it, but I'm kind of glad that I've known his love languages from the very beginning.
What are your love languages? How do you use your love language and your spouse's love language to strengthen your marriage?