Valentine’s Day is upon us and for most it’s about showering your significant other with roses, chocolates, and a lavish dinner. It’s a day of affirmation and celebration of a relationship, but beyond the gifts and mementos, it’s an occasion to also elevate intimacy through a better understanding love languages.
What Are love languages?
Talking and whispering sweet nothings are some of the ways we express affection to our significant other, but there are other ways to communicate those affections. After all, in the world of romance and intimacy, love is also subjected to get lost in translation when both partners fail to understand basic love languages.
According to Lee Wilson, a relationship coach with 20 years of experience, couples can celebrate each other every day and not just on Valentine’s Day by understanding love languages in their relationships. “Acts of Service, Quality Time, Words of Affirmation, Physical Touch and Receiving Gifts are some of the main love languages that modern couples should pay attention to,” he says.
Keen to find out more, we spoke to Lee and queried about the world of romance, intimacy, and why understanding love languages is key to fostering a strong and lasting bond in modern relationships.
In your experience, why are love languages essential in a relationship?
People leave marriages and serious relationships when they don’t feel loved and/or they don’t feel liked. Oftentimes, I’ve worked with couples where one of them thought they were communicating love but because the other person didn’t actually feel loved, and they wanted to leave the relationship. So, it’s essential that couples love each other in ways that transfer and convey love. If the other person doesn’t feel fulfilled, desired, and loved, the road to keeping the relationship will be a difficult one.
How are they able to help couples foster better and more intimate relationships?
When someone doesn’t feel loved, it impacts so many other aspects of a relationship. Commitment, physical intimacy, emotional connection, and attraction can be harmed. It can make someone vulnerable to another who they feel does love them or loves them more.
For example, if a spouse is not feeling sexually fulfilled by their spouse, it doesn’t just mean that they aren’t sexually satisfied. It usually leads to feeling undesired, unattractive, unwanted, unloved, or even ugly. The other spouse might have a list of things that they feel demonstrate love, but if that message is not getting through to the other person, it doesn’t matter.
Can you break down briefly, each love language as well as tips on how couples can use them to better connect with one another?
Acts of Service
An act of service is something that you didn’t have to do or that might have even been difficult to do but your love compelled you to do it for the person you care so much about. Cooking a meal, cutting someone’s grass, cleaning their house, painting a portrait of their dog, running an errand for them, and washing their car all are examples of acts of service. If something needs to be done or you know it is on your partner’s to-do list, taking care of it for him or her is an act of service.
Usually someone who has acts of service as their love language also feels that actions speak louder than words in other areas. So if you say that you’ll be somewhere at 6:00 but you arrive at 6:22, your partner will likely take it personally and feel that they weren’t important enough for you to show up on time. Your partner who has acts of service as a love language will also feel love from you when you provide acts of service to someone close to them like a parent.
So if you help your partner’s mom change the lightbulb that is in the middle of her vaulted ceiling, your partner will likely feel love radiating from you. It’s not just about work but planning. For example, if it’s your partner’s birthday and you plan an evening that includes multiple stops, reservations, and a surprise party for them that you organised, and you make the final stop a path of rose petals to a bed surrounded by candles, your partner is definitely feeling the love from you.
Especially for the men — if your girlfriend or wife has acts of service as her love language, never start a date by asking her what she wants to do. Take the initiative and plan the evening. In fact, whoever invites the other person on a date will show much more love if the evening is planned rather than sitting in the car asking what the other person ‘wants to do.’
Quantity of time is also important, even when someone has ‘Quality Time’ as their love language. But to someone who needs this to feel loved, it means that prioritised time together where the two of you are able to focus on each other, to share the thoughts and feelings of life, and to experience more than simply watching TV or making small talk is vital to them feeling loved.
Do your best to schedule the time, plan ahead and demonstrate to the other person that he/she is not a distraction but your main priority. When it’s your turn to plan date night, don’t just ask where the other person wants to go. Have carefully-thought-out plans to show that this is important to you and that time with your partner is special.
Words of Affirmation
Most of us need to hear it a lot more than just once. We need to be reaffirmed that our partner wants to be with us, finds us attractive, likes being with us, and dreams of our future together. Some people need it more than others to feel loved and so don’t be afraid to repeat it. Someone with this type of love language appreciates the reassurance of hearing it again and again and feels like something is wrong if these words are absent.
We touch things we want. From the cookies in the cookie jar to our lover’s backside. Physical touch is not always sexual, but it certainly includes sexual touch and it allows the other person to physical feel our love. It takes the concept of our love and allows the other person to feel its existence. Touching someone happens naturally when you love them because you simply can’t help yourself. People who need this demonstration of love often give it themselves and understand that when you love someone, you can’t keep your hands to yourself.
People who have the love language of receiving gifts usually feel that the other person thought of them and gave out of the overflow of their heart. Similar to physical touch, giving a gift gives bones to our love. It’s the physical proof that our mind can see and touch. A gift that is given with intimate knowledge of what someone appreciates and enjoys causes the other to feel beloved and special to the gift giver. You don’t give to earn love, you give to show it.
Lee Wilson is a relationship coach with 20 years of experience. Check out his YouTube channel on relationships and anxiety and websites marriageradio.com and myanxietypeace.com.
(Featured image: Azrul Aziz/Unsplash; main image: Michael Fenton/Unsplash)