Catching up for a dog walk and coffee with my friend Catherine Simes, Psychologist and School Counsellor at The Kings School, we found ourselves talking about love, marriage and romantic relationships! Cath mentioned The Five Love Languages and how useful they are to consider in relationships. The original intention of The Love Language theory is learning each other’s love languages and modifying one’s own behaviour accordingly.
“In my work as a counsellor and psychologist, I’ve found The Five Love Languages is a really powerful way to help clients understand their partner (or children, friends and family members) better. It has been my experience personally and professionally that using and understanding these can be a fast track to restoring lost intimacy, warmth and good will to any relationship. Understanding your partner’s love languages (we are all a mix of all five, but usually have a couple of ‘primary’ ones), is simpler than it sounds, and doesn’t require much detective work,” notes Cath.
THE FIVE LOVE LANGUAGES BY DR GARY CHAPMAN
1. Words of Affirmation: saying kind, affirming words to your partner; helping them to feel noticed, appreciated and valued, and includes saying, ‘I love you’.
2. Acts of Service: love is expressed by remembering and doing things that require thought, time and effort; simple actions that you know your partner would love, such as cooking a meal or picking up supplies on your way home.
3. Gift Giving: thoughtful gifts that help make your partner feel loved, understood and appreciated.
4. Quality Time: this is about your undivided attention, without distractions, (screen-free-time). This is time made exclusively for them, sharing or doing something together and being fully present.
5. Physical Touch: feeling connected and safe in a relationship, enhanced by physical contact, such as holding hands, a back rub and hugging.
“The best way to understand your own, or anyone else’s love language is to look at what you/they tend to do or give. For instance, if you tend to give gifts, they’re probably meaningful to you and something you really appreciate,” Cath details. “It may hurt when your loved ones don’t go to the same thought and effort when presenting you with a gift. On the other hand, if they frequently say kind, supportive things to you, then words of affirmation are probably something they really want or need from you. Meeting those needs and wants, albeit communicated nonverbally, can make the world of difference to a relationship.”
“The great thing about this ‘tool’ is that it’s free! It doesn’t require a conversation if things are tense, just start by doing or giving a couple of the things they tend to do or give to others. If you want to make inroads in a challenging relationship or you want your loved one to feel loved, invest in trying some of these simple but powerful relationship rescue remedies… and watch your investment bear fruit!”
In the words of Dr Julie Gottman, “paying attention to a partner’s needs and wants and acting accordingly results in a better relationship.” (Fetters, A., The Atlantic, 2019).
Sarah Wainwright, BSc (Psychology), Postgraduate Diploma (Psychology), Writer, Third Culture Kid, wife and mother of 4. Sarah is a Sydney-based parenting expert and shares her experience and observations on Instagram @_parentingtips_