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Want to Understand Your Partner? Read This Handy Guide On Detecting Love Languages

According to Mark Chapman, author of The Five Love Languages, we all feel and express love differently. Read on to find out how to “read” the language your partner is speaking

Mark is late again. He told Sarah he would meet her for dinner at six, but it’s already quarter to seven. Sarah knows something must have “come up.” She waits at the restaurant they agreed on, fuming. With every passing minute, her anger grows. At last, Mark appears. He apologizes, saying his meeting went late. But to Sarah, his excuse doesn’t matter. She loses her temper, and lashes into Mark, and a blowout ensues.

Sound familiar? Even if one partner’s punctuality isn’t the problem in your couple, chances are there’s something else. Housework, childrearing, an overbearing mother-in-law—it doesn’t not take much to spark a difference of opinion. But no matter what you argue about in your relationship, when you argue it feels like you’re worlds apart.

If only your partner could understand where you’re coming from.

In all likelihood, your partner wishes for the same thing.

That’s the idea behind relationship counselor Mark Chapman’s best-selling The Five Love Languages: when the members of a couple don’t speak the same “love language,” they can’t understand where the other is coming from. In a nutshell, the book suggests that being able to recognize the love language your spouse is speaking can help you to vastly improve the quality of your marriage.

But you don’t need to read the book to get the gist of the various love languages and understand how to read them. In fact, they’re pretty straightforward:

  1. Words of affirmation. People who speak this language rely on words to show their love by offering praise, compliments, and gratitude.
  2. Acts of service. People who speak through acts of service might cook a meal, clean the car, fold laundry, get up in the middle of the night for the baby, or vacuum the house to show their loved one they care.
  3. Receiving and giving gifts. Some people accept and show love through the symbolic act of receiving and giving gifts such as money, cars, vacations, clothes, or jewelry.
  4. Quality time. For others, giving their partner their undivided attention and receiving the same in return is the most natural way of expressing love.
  5. Physical touch. Affectionate acts such as holding hands, giving a massage, or having sex constitute the love language of physical touch.

Most people relate to more than one language. Some people relate to all of them in varying degrees. Though Chapman’s theory is based on common sense and not scientific evidence, most of us can probably recognize that it contains some truth. Learning to read languages is just another way of learning how to connect emotionally with those closest to us.

Take the scenario at the beginning of this article. For Sarah, a loving relationship is about spending quality time together. For Mark, it’s about receiving and giving gifts—his prestigious job, for which he often stays late, allows him to afford to provide for Sarah, a form of gift giving. But when Sarah gets left waiting, it’s painfully clear to her that Mark doesn’t prioritize their quality time and therefore doesn’t care about her. Mark, on the other hand, is confused by the fact that Sarah won’t accept his legitimate excuse. After all, he only works because he wants to be able to offer her material comforts.

When you realize that your partner doesn’t share the same love language as you do, his or her actions seem far less hurtful. Suddenly, what you argue about makes a whole lot more sense. You’re in a better position to take a step back and maybe even curb fighting altogether.

Being able to identify your partner or spouse’s love language can also help you to show you care in ways that are important to him or her—instead of those that are important to you. For couples, this should be a mutual effort.

Finally, knowing the love languages you share as a couple can help you to overcome the challenges you face as a team. For instance, a wife who prefers receiving and giving gifts to show love might struggle when money is tight. A husband who expresses his love through acts of service might have a hard time feeling close to his spouse when a chronic illness leaves him temporarily bedridden. A couple that mutually enjoys quality time might go through a rough patch when a job opportunity forces them to maintain a long-distance relationship.

Though being able to read love languages isn’t a guaranteed problem-solver in a marriage or long-term relationship, it’s a small step to being able to understand your partner better.

[Image via Getty]

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