Gary Chapman (1995) in his benchmark book ‘The Five Languages of Love’, gives us a detailed look at how we may differ from our partner in the way we like to be shown that we are loved. Your love language probably differs from your spouse’s. Each of us speaks and understands one that makes it easy for us to feel loved. If you try to communicate using only your native language, it may be foreign to your husband or wife. To be understood, you need to know — and speak — your spouse’s language. Which is it?

Words of Affirmation: verbal expressions of appreciation, compliment, praise, and thanks, conveyed for the well-being of the one you love. Such communication demonstrates: encouragement — it inspires and motivates (not pressures) another to pursue a latent interest or achieve personal potential; kindness — it encompasses loving tones and truthful statements to build intimacy, express understanding, share difficult feelings, or show forgiveness; and humility — it requests instead of demands, asks instead of nags.

Quality Time: focused, undivided and uninterrupted attention, despite busyness and business. It is demonstrated in: togetherness — not just proximity, but the simple emotional connection and enjoyment of being with each other; meaningful conversation — sympathetic (not just solution-oriented) dialogue and active listening to share feelings, thoughts, and desires in a friendly uninterrupted context; and shared activities — doing things together that interest one or both of you just in order to create a unique experience and mutual memory.

Receiving Gifts: tokens or symbols of affection, caring, remembrance, and thoughtfulness. They may be tangible gifts — little (or big) presents that you’ve found, made, or purchased, given either at a special time or for no specific occasion; or gifts of self — your physical presence in important moments or times of crisis.

Acts of Service: happily doing things you know your spouse would like you to do or helping your mate with tasks that need to be done. Examples might include keeping the house clean, putting the toilet seat down, ironing, changing diapers, cleaning the garage, cooking or going out for dinner, or attending a symphony performance. Such acts require thought, time, planning, and effort. They are done in love — not fear, guilt, resentment, or duty — and may go against social or family stereotypes.

Physical Touch: communication of your love through the body’s nerve endings, with sensitivity to what methods, circumstances, and timing your spouse finds pleasant. It includes hugs, kisses, hand holding, back rubs, sitting close, hair stroking, and, of course, regular sexual intercourse. It also encompasses long, empathetic embraces and tender touches of understanding when your spouse is in tears or times of crisis.

Remember, love is a choice that often involves sacrifice. But you’ll deepen the intimacy in your marriage if you learn your spouse’s love language and speak it regularly.

Things to Remember

  1. Sharing your deepest thoughts and emotions with someone you love can be one of the most rewarding aspects of a relationship.
  2. Be aware of the need to explore ways to share intimacy without sex.
  3. Intimacy in a relationship doesn’t just happen. It is built up over time.
  4. Abuse or violence in a relationship destroys trust and intimacy and signals that the relationship is in trouble.