Category: The 5 Love Languages®

Learning Love Languages

Recently a wife said to me, I’m sending all of my friends to your marriage seminar.” “Really, why?” I asked. “Before the seminar, Bob never helped me with anything. We both had our careers, but it was always my job to do all the house work. After the seminar he started asking me, ‘What can I do to help you this evening?’ I’ll have to admit that at first there were trying and humorous times. The first time he did the laundry, he used bleach instead of detergent. Our blue towels came out white polka dotted. But eventually he learned. It’s wonderful. And it’s been going on for three years now.” Why was this wife so happy? Because her husband learned to speak her love language.

Q&A: Love Languages, Nature or Nurture?

Q: Gary, how and when are the love languages determined?

Gary: This is an excellent question, but I don’t have an excellent answer. The reality is that we don’t know exactly how the love languages are formed. Is it nature or nurture? Are we born with them or do we develop them early? I do know you can determine a child’s love language by the time they are three or four years old. How do they reach out to do? If they’re hugging you or always touching you, then physical touch is their language. So I don’t have an answer to that, I just know that they’re there very very early in life.

Knowing How to Love Your Spouse

If your spouse often criticizes you for not “helping them”, they may be telling you that ‘acts of service’ is their love language. People tend to criticize their spouse most loudly in the area where they themselves have the deepest emotional need. Their criticism is an ineffective way of pleading for love. If you understand this, you might respond more positively to their criticism. You might say, “It sounds like that is really important to you. Could you explain why it is so crucial?” Initiating such a conversation may eventually turn the criticism into a request rather than a demand. When you hear criticism, it’s time to listen. Your spouse is giving you valuable information about what would make them feel loved.

Coercing Love

One of the five love languages is “acts of service.” For some people, this is their primary love language. However, people sometimes make the mistake of demanding acts of service from their loved ones: “If you loved me you would help me around the house.” true love, however, is a choice and cannot be coerced. Criticism and demands tend to drive wedges. With enough criticism your spouse may do what you want, but it will not be an expression of love. You can give guidance to love by making requests: “Would you please mow the grass?” But you cannot create the will to love. Each of us must decide daily to love or not to love. If acts of service is the primary love language of your spouse, then mowing the grass will be loves loudest voice.

Q&A: Military Couple How to Speak Love over Distance

Q: I am recently engaged and we are in the military stationed on opposite sides of the country. With physical touch and quality time being our LL’s, how can we survive?”

Gary: You would think that physical touch is impossible half a world away. But, I remember one lady who said, “I put my hand on a sheet of paper. I traced my hand and I mailed it to him with a note that said, ‘Put your hand on my hand, I want to hold your hand.'” He told me later, “Gary, every time I put my hand on that paper, I felt her.” It’s not literal touch but it’s emotional touch. I suggest you get the book: The 5 Love Languages Military Edition. It will give you a lot of practical ideas on how to speak the love languages long distance.

Q&A: Helping My Child with a Bad Attitude

Q: My son continually has a bad attitude. We would like to help him with it, what can we do?

Gary: Make sure your son feels loved. I know that you love him, the question is does your son feel loved? Sincerity is not enough. The deepest emotional need a child has is to feel loved by the parents. When that need is unmet children often experience anger, which shows up in their behavior. Dr. Ross Campbell and I wrote a book that has just been updated and released called The 5 Love Languages of ChildrenIt shares information on how to identify a child’s primary love language and how speaking this language interfaces with the child’s anger, learning, and with discipline. Many parents have shared that when they started speaking their child’s love language they saw a dramatic change in the child’s behavior.

Conflict over Disciplining the Children

One of the most common conflicts between husbands and wives is how to discipline the children. “He’s too harsh,” the wife says. “She lets them get away with murder,” the husband says. The conversation goes down hill from there. Their arguments leave them wounded and resentful. The basics of child rearing are not difficult to understand. The first fundamental is that children need to feel loved by mom and dad. Understanding the five love languages has helped thousands of parents learn how to love children effectively. If children don’t feel loved, they are far more likely to rebel against almost any form of discipline. Get on the same page. Make sure your children feel loved.

Q&A: Casual Physical Touch

Q: My primary love language is physical touch. I am not currently in a dating relationship, and I live far away from my family. How can I best seek out fulfillment of my primary love language in a casual or platonic manner?

Gary: A lady once said to me, “You know why I go to that church? Because people hug me there. It’s the only place all week long that I get hugs.” And I do believe the church is a good place to be hugged. I mean this in a positive way. Christians are loving people, often reaching out with handshakes and hugs. If you’re going to a church that doesn’t, I suggest you look for a different church. I believe the church is one of the best places to meet the need for love in a casual relationship.

A Thank You

A husband: Gary, I recently discovered The 5 Love Languages concept and have tried to speak them all to my wife. I just wanted you to know that it has had an amazing impact on our lives. Thanks.

Gary: I’m so encouraged by the way The 5 Love Languages has helped so many couples connect on a deeper level with each other. I had a soldier from Afghanistan write an email to me. He said, “The 5 Love Languages is the simplest and most profound book I’ve ever read.” I like that. It’s a simple concept that we have different love languages and to be effective we have to speak the other person’s. And it doesn’t hurt to sprinkle in the other four for extra credit. I hope other couples who haven’t read The 5 Love Languages will do so also.

Words of Affirmation

When is the last time you gave your spouse a card, flowers, candy, or some other gift? If you don’t have any money, you can make a card. Get the paper out of the trash can where you work. Cut out a heart. Write the words, “I love you.” Be creative. You don’t have to have money to keep romance alive in your marriage. But you do have to be thoughtful. The husband who doesn’t believe in giving gifts is digging his own marital grave. Marriages are kept alive by expressions of love. Why not write a love letter to your spouse today. Tomorrow, you can give it to her or you can read it to her. Or, you can do both. Words of affirmation is one way of keeping romance alive in a marriage. Look for opportunities to express love to your spouse.