How do you make love work once the honeymoon is a distant memory and the hard work of real life has set in? While you’ll find countless self-help tomes, online articles and even podcasts, some advice has stood the test of time.
Dr Gary Chapman’s best-selling book The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love That Lasts was first published in 1995. Since then it has sold 11 million copies, been translated into 50 languages, and racked up nearly 13,000 five-star reviews on Amazon, with many reviewers saying that the advice has ‘saved’ their marriages.
Chapman, who lives in North Carolina with his wife is a former pastor responsible for teaching and family care. His theory is that broadly there are five different ways that people express their love: words of affirmation, quality time, receiving gifts, acts of service, or physical touch.
While we can speak all five ‘languages’, Chapman believes each of us favours one in particular. The key to a harmonious relationship is understanding both your own and your partner’s main love language, in order to improve communication and strengthen your bond.
Intrigued? Here’s a quick in-a-nutshell guide to Chapman’s five love languages…
Words of Affirmation Showing love through verbal affection, praise, or appreciation. Unsolicited compliments and hearing ‘I love you’ are mood-boosting. Off-hand insults, on the other hand, are extremely hurtful.
Acts of Service Essentially, actions speak louder than words. You demonstrate your love by doing kind, thoughtful, helpful things for your partner: a cup of tea in bed in the morning, putting their towel on the radiator so it’s warm, mowing the lawn because you know they hate the noise. Small acts of devotion that show you care.
Receiving Gifts Presents and treats become symbolic of love, a visual representation to be treasured. Not to be mistaken for materialism, it’s the effort behind the gift that matters, showing that you are known and worthy of being given special things. A missed birthday or anniversary is a serious no in this language.
Quality Time This language – of undivided, undistracted attention – is particularly hard in our busy, smartphone-addicted lives. Togetherness isn’t just about being sat next to each other on the sofa, or the amount of time you spend as a couple, it’s about really focusing and engaging with one and other.
Physical Touch From simply holding hands, or cuddling in front of the TV, this language isn’t only about sex – although that is an important element. Speakers of this language appreciate a kiss goodbye before work or, an arm around their shoulder in the pub.
You can take a quiz to find out which language you speak with Chapman’s online Learn Your Love Language quiz.