Asking “What’s My Love Language?” Here’s How You Find Out.
It has been said that having a baby is like buying a blender without the instruction manual or the lid, and occasionally you may feel like taking it back to the store (cue slightly manic laugh). Caring for kids and figuring out their communication preferences and strategies can be head-spinning stuff, and it doesn’t get any less intense as they get older.
One of the things that Patrick and I have found helpful is learning about Love Languages, answering the question “what’s my love language?” and getting used to the idea within our marriage before applying it to our kids.
Love Languages can be used to enhance any relationship- a friendship, partnership, marriage or parent-child relationship and this post will help you figure out what your Love Language is, and what steps to take to get the most out of it.
What Are Love Languages?
‘Love Languages’ are examples of how we give and receive love. The theory, created by Gary Chapman, suggests that we generally communicate love to each other in five different ways. The answer to “what’s my love language?” is going to be one of the following:
- Physical touch
- Words of encouragement
- Quality Time
- Acts of Service
Usually people have a most-important primary Love Language and a fairly close second. How these are communicated depends on the relationship as well as social and other contextual factors, and there are many examples.
Examples Of Love Languages In Action
Physical touch between friends might manifest itself as a hug, arm touch, play-fighting or ruffling hair; between romantic partners it will often be kissing, cuddling and sex.
Words of encouragement are any verbal affirmation that can be used to ‘build someone up’, such as telling a spouse how much you missed them, complimenting a friend on their new haircut, or telling a child how proud you are of them.
Quality time is simply spending dedicated time together such as on a date, taking your child out for lunch with just you, or going out with mates for a drink and a chat.
Acts of service are things like emptying the dishwasher, helping put the kids to bed, tying up shoelaces, fixing the car, fetching snacks, etc.
Gifts are fairly obvious; anything material thoughtfully given from one person to another.
Why Does It Matter What My Love Language Is?
Answering the question, “What’s my love language? is a great start in learning how to use Love Languages to create better family relationships. Think about what matters to you and how you like people to treat you. Does it make you really happy when your partner makes you a cup of tea, or gives you a back rub, or buys you a gift? Do you really appreciate it when they say ‘thank you’ for a meal you’ve cooked, or when they spend an evening chatting to you without being distracted?
If you can’t put your finger on it, try thinking about what you do to try and make people feel special. Is your instinct to buy them something to cheer them up, or to give someone a hug, or set time aside for them? Often we give love in the way that we most receive it- I, for example, always find myself encouraging people and telling them about their great qualities because it comes naturally to me; words are what make me feel loved. I’ve had to train myself to buy gifts for people as I’m not remotely bothered about them so I often forget that other people are!
You can take a quiz to find out what your Love Language is with this quiz.
Once you’ve identified your own Love Language and your partner’s Love Language, maybe practise doing things for them in ‘their language’ over the next week or so. It might take effort as we are used to responding according to our own needs, but this sometimes means that our partner completely misses our attempts to connect.
For example, if Patrick bought me home a present every day I would think it was weird. I would much prefer that he gave me lots of hugs (‘physical touch’) or organised a date for us (‘quality time’). Likewise I can cook a meal every night for Patrick (‘acts of service’), and he likes it, but it’s not his priority. Thankfully our Love Languages happen to pretty much match, so it is fairly easy for us to meet each others’ needs.
It is worth noting that Love Languages also work in reverse; things communicated negatively in our ‘language’ can be more hurtful than if done in another way. Patrick likes words of encouragement, and finds it extremely painful if I swear or use a harsh tone of voice with him. In a similar way, if I dress up to go out and Patrick says nothing about my appearance, or if I do well at work and he doesn’t enthuse as much as I’d like, I am likely to feel a bit huffy as verbal affirmation is important to me.
Once you have figured out yours and your partner’s love languages and practised at responding to them in the ways they prefer, have a look at my popular post 25 ways to show love to your children using love languages. You can also find more parenting tips and inspiration in my library of parenting articles.
Recommended read: The 5 Love Languages by Gary Chapman (over 11 million copies sold!)