It’s sometimes disheartening to me when I think about the amount of time we spend on various aspects of our lives versus working on our relationships. We spend 40+ hours at work a week, 10 hours a day of screen time, at least an hour commuting a day, etc. But how much time do we dedicate to building and improving relationships with the people that mean the most to us?
I recently took a small step towards bettering relationships with my family, friends and boyfriend by reading Dr. Gary Chapman’s book, The 5 Love Languages. The concepts are simplistic, and slightly cheesy, but it’s completely applicable to all the relationships in your life and absolutely transformational.
We all have a primary, and in some cases secondary, love language – the way we communicate love. While reading through the examples and explanations of love languages from the book, it becomes clear instantly which love language you prefer.
The Five Love Languages are:
- Words of Affirmation: This language uses words to affirm other people. Giving compliments, saying “I love you,” providing praise are what you value most. Sending a letter about how much this person means to you or a small text during the day means so much. Words are crucial, and therefore negative comments hurt the most.
- Acts of Service: For these people, actions speak louder than words. It’s important to do favors like picking up dinner, mowing the lawn, tidying the house, etc. Maybe do a little more than your fair share of the responsibilities, especially when they’re having a tough week.
- Receiving Gifts: For some people, what makes them feel most loved is to receive a gift. This doesn’t necessarily mean a person is materialistic, but a meaningful small token of appreciation is the way to their heart. It can also be valuable to surprise this person with a gift instead of just giving on holidays.
- Quality Time: This language is all about giving the other person your undivided attention. A dialect of this love language is quality conversation. It’s important to this person for time together alone without distractions, so date nights, doing a shared activity or experiences say I love you best. Maybe set aside thirty minutes after work to go on a walk without your phones to talk about your day.
- Physical Touch: To this person, nothing speaks more deeply than appropriate touch. Holding hands, a hug, kissing and more makes this person feel the loved and safe. If this is most important, touch frequently throughout the course of the day.
Now, of course, all of these love languages are nice ways to communicate love and you should express love through all of these means! But understanding your primary love language, and the love language of those you’re close to, is the key to cultivating lasting relationships.
Quality time ranks highest for me. This explains why I never touch my phone, providing undivided attention to whomever I’m with, and why canceling plans is a major pet peeve of mine. Nothing is better than one-on-one time with my favorite people.
So why does this all matter? What did I take away from reading the book?
First, learn your love language! Take this quiz. A clue to figuring out your love language is how you tend to show love.
Second, communicate and show love in your partner’s (sibling’s, friend’s, parent’s, etc.) primary love language. Dr. Chapman shares countless examples of ways to show love in the five languages, so feel free to borrow some of those to get you started – or simply ask that person what you can do to make them feel more loved and appreciated.
Third, communicate your own needs. After finishing this book, I couldn’t shut up about it. And it opened up the door to having that conversation. No one is a mind reader to know what you need and want, so being open about it is the only way to start improving your relationships.
The people in our lives matter, so spend some time this week to find ways to cultivate stronger relationships.
P.S. If you liked this post, you might also enjoy 3 Life Lessons from “Year of Yes.”