According to Dr. Gary Chapman, there are five different love languages, words of affirmation, quality time, receiving gifts, acts of services, and physical touch.
The person whose love language is “words of affirmation” knows how to compliment others with words. He/she uses words to show the love to his/her partner.
When your love language is “quality time,” you enjoy sharing common interests and doing things that connected the two of you.
When your love language is “receiving gifts,” the token that symbolizes the love and special occasion are essential.
The person whose love language is “acts of services” shows love by acting on it. They do everything for their partner, and they do it for the love of their partner.
When your love language is “physical touch,” you use a hug, a kiss, and touch to feel and to show your partner your presence, care, and love.
One of the languages might be the strongest, and there might be a couple of them are equally strong. You can take the test to determine your love language.
So, what happens when the partners have a different love language?
I commonly see couples fights because of their different love language. Many couples I have worked with who have the intimacy issues are often in this situation. Usually, the wife’s primary love language is acts of service, and the husband’s primary love language is physical touch. So, the wife’s complaints often sound like this: “I have so much to do, and he doesn’t help. All he wants is to have sex. I am so tired at the end of the day to have sex with him! If he can help out more, maybe he will understand why I am so tired.” At the same time, the husband’s complaints are: “We are like a roommate, and we do many things together. But, that’s all we do! Do, Do, and Do. What’s the point of marriage if we are like roommates and do things together?”
(Just a side note, couplse who have more equal shared household responsibilty actually do have better sex life. Please see the end of the article for the extended reading. “The man doing more than a third and up to 65% of the housework, reported having sex significantly more often than did couples where the woman (or the man) did 65% or more of the housework.”)
The other commonly seen fights were when one of the partner’s love langue is the act of service while the other one is words of affirmation. I often described this kind of pair as one of them being the talker and the other one is a doer. The doer is continuously upset that he/she is doing everything but the talker talks the talk with no action. At the same time, the talker continually feels that he/she gives the recognition and compliments, but it’s never enough for the doer.
These situations got me to think about the idea of “love the way you want to be loved” and whether this is genuinely a good advise to the couples? Even though there is no scientific evidence to support these five love language, most of my couples found the discussion of their different love language very helpful. Whenever I pointed out the possible explanation of the fights due to the differences in their love language, I often see the light bulb switch on in their eyes and to realize how they are trying to give the love in the way they wanted to be love but not receiving the respect they would hope for.
So, now, the husbands who need the physical touch learns to show his love via sharing more household responsibilities and the wife who learns to show her appreciation and respect with a hug, a kiss, and more physical touch. In the meantime, the doer in the relationship learns to ask for more help and to give more recognition verbally while the talker in the relationship takes on more shared responsibilities.
So, maybe, we should start to learn to pay more attention to how our partners receive love and learn to give the love our partners want to be loved. In the meantime, we also learn to ask or teach our partner how we want to be loved. After all, if your partner has an entirely different love language than yours, it’s not natural for your partner to understand what you need and your partner needs to learn to give love differently. And, who would be a better coach than you?
Egalitarianism, Housework, and Sexual Frequency in Marriage (This article is the original research studies published in American Sociological Review.)
Does more equal marriage means less sex? (New York times summarize the research findings)