One theme I often see with couples who've been together for some time is that they don't feel as loved or cared for by the other person than they would like. This often shows up in couples that don't have a lot of conflict and think that overall the relationship is doing alright, but want to increase their connection.
In these couples especially, but even in relationships with more frequent arguments, mismatched Love Languages can be a big factor. I think it's great that the 5 Love Languages has become a popular concept among couples, but what can help immensely is taking it a step further from identifying your top love languages, to figuring out how to make it work when you and your partner are mismatched.
Why is this Important to Talk About?
At the beginning of a relationship, you're probably doing all of the love languages – you're trying to connect with the other person and show them that you're trying and that you care. This makes sense, the beginning of a relationship is usually when it's at its most delicate, so we're trying to keep it going by putting in a lot of effort. It pays off pretty well too – usually the other person will respond extremely positively when we're showing our interest.
As time goes on, things inevitably shift – we're not as giddy to see each other, and the relationship (hopefully) gets to a stable, solid place. When this happens and as time goes on, the relationship can be susceptible to becoming less connecting, especially if your love language doesn't match up with mine. Even worse, we can start to become resentful because the other person isn't showing us love in the way that resonates most with us.
All of that to say, it's important to talk about so you can gauge where things are at in your relationship – do your love languages mesh extremely well already and you just want to be proactive? Are things more bland now and you'd like to make each other feel more loved? Or have you both felt unloved for a while, and you would just like to get back to a stable place where at least some of the times you really feel like the other person loves you.
Wherever you're coming from, consciously thinking about your love languages and how they play out between the two of you can make it much easier to maintain an environment of care & love in the relationship.
Love Languages & How You Can Make Your Partner Feel Loved
1. Words of Affirmation
For many of us, we resonate greatly with our partner verbally expressing their thoughts or feelings. This could be compliments, expressing your positive feelings towards them, telling them a specific thing you appreciate about them / something they did, sharing encouragement and support, or speaking positively of them to family or friends (when they're there, or telling them about it later).
This is one of the most powerful because it's a very direct and explicit way to show love – you're literally expressing it to the other person. It's also a myth that words of affirmation resonate much more with women – men also get a lot from words of affirmation, we're unfortunately often socialized away from verbally expressing our more vulnerable emotions.
2. Physical Touch
This is also one of the most popular love languages, and it doesn't just mean sex. Physical touch could be simply sitting next to each other on the couch, holding hands while out to dinner, or an intentional kiss every now and again.
It's again a myth that physical touch resonates much more with men – I've found that this will be much higher up on the list for women if, in the relationship, there is no pressure or expectation that a physical touch leads to sex. For many women, if their husband/boyfriend gets angry that a kiss or cuddling doesn't lead to sex nearly every time, they will start to associate physical touch with discomfort.
3. Quality Time
Instead of wanting to hear your partner loves you, you may really want to spend more time with them. Being the only thing that your partner is focused on can jump-start that feeling of connection; that neither of your phones or the TV is getting in-between the two of you, but that you’re paying all your attention to your partner.
4. Do more favors for your partner (Acts of Service) Many individuals resonate with a more indirect display of love. It can feel overwhelming when you work hard at your job, have kids and pets you need to care for, and dinner to make. If your partner was to do the laundry, cut the grass, or make your coffee for you in the morning, you could feel incredibly loved. This act of service to you means that your partner understands your busy day, and wants to make it easier on you.
5. Buy your partner a gift (Receiving Gifts) Many need a more tangible display of love. You might feel very loved if your partner was to put in the thought and effort to get you a meaningful gift. This doesn’t make either of you materialistic, because it’s not the actual gift that matters – it’s the thought that is put into that gift.
Find Out What Your Partner Likes and Do It If these sound familiar to you, you might have heard of The Five Love Languages before. These five ‘tips’ are the love languages that you can “speak” . A major reason why couples feel unloved is that their love languages are different. The way that you give and receive love will often be different from how your partner gives and receives it. When you first start dating someone you will usually give love in all of these ways, but as the relationship continues you settle in to your preferred ways of giving and receiving.
Now what can you do? Bring this post to your partner, and talk about your love languages. To do this, both of you should pick your primary and secondary language. Then, think of and discuss times that your partner gave love in a way that was very satisfying to you and left you with a feeling of great connection. Use this knowledge to your advantage. In the future, try to give love in the way that your partner wants to receive it more often. For example, if your primary language is words of affirmation but your partner’s is acts of service, try doing them a favor instead of telling them that you appreciate them - or even better, do both. Your partner should do the same so that both of you will feel loved every day.
Check out my video for more: https://youtu.be/pFQV7S9eHhs