Just as we all have a spoken language we feel comfortable with, we also have a love language that resonates best with us. Educator Kerry McArthur explains how love languages work.
Your love language is the way that you feel the most loved, the most appreciated and the way that you naturally express love towards people around us. Do you like things being done for you, or receiving gifts, do you prefer someone telling you how amazing you are, or do you prefer a hug?
Every day we are exposed to language – from saying, “Good morning,” to the sales language in television adverts, directives in road signs, interactions at work, and chatting to family. We think in language, and our mother tongue is the language that we know the best and feel the most comfortable using.
As much as speaking English to an Italian person confuses the relationship, so will speaking a different love language. Without recognising the different love languages, you could be in a house with three other people who all speak different love Languages, with the result that none of you understand each other.
You are all busy speaking your own love language, so everyone in your home isn’t feeling loved or appreciated, no matter how hard you work at it.
Once you understand the different love languages and you have identified what love languages your family members use, you can then speak to them in their love language. By doing this you are telling them in their language – in a way they understand – that you love and appreciate them. Your relationship with them will improve tenfold and your home will be a happier place.
How love languages work
Let me tell you about my experience of love languages wih my partner. My love language is Gifts, with a secondary love language of Acts of Service. It is normal to have two different love languages and they can switch priority based on how much each of them is being spoken. I would come home every day, make sure supper was ready, make him coffee and possibly have bought him a small gift – showing my love.
He, on the other hand, would constantly want me to cuddle up to him on the couch or hold his hand in the shops. Without realising it, his love languages were Physical Time and Words of Affirmation.
When we were dating, I would say, “Show me you love me,” and he would say, “Tell me you love me”. As you can see, we continued speaking our own love languages to each other and as far as we were concerned, we were doing as much as we could to tell each other how much we loved each other. But we were speaking completely different languages and neither of us was feeling loved. It was only when we found out about love languages and started using these that our relationship completely transformed.
What are the different love languages?
There are five love languages, a system developed by Dr Gary Chapman to show how people love and want to be loved. Most of them are self explanatory, and you will kick yourself when you realise how logical they are!
- Acts of Service – These are doing things for other people, e.g. helping them with a task or making them a cup of coffee.
- Physical Touch – This would be holding hands, hugging, or even wrestling.
- Quality Time – Spending alone time together, doing something that the other person enjoys.
- Words of Affirmation – This is using words of encouragement, building someone up using your words.
- Gifts – Making or buying something for someone; the gift is normally matched to their interests and not simply material.
Love languages and your children
Everyone has a primary need to feel loved – how much more effective would this be if we were shown love in our own love Language? Understanding and using love languages with your children and partner is an effective way to let them know you love them, which in turn will help to build their self-confidence and happiness.
The easiest way to identify your young child’s love language is by watching what they do around you. Remember, a young child lives in their own self-centred world, which is normal. They do not have the emotional maturity yet to realise the needs of others – this comes with time. We all naturally speak our own love language, more so with young children.
Simple ways to identify love languages in your children
- Does your little one run up to you and hang on you, and insist on being “uppy” all the time? Do they love to wrestle or want to give high fives? Chances are their love language is Physical Touch.
- Does she constantly draw you pictures, or give you things from her room, is she always telling you what she wants for her birthday? Her love language is possibly Gifts.
- Are you always being given cups of tea (even if you don’t know where the water came from)? Does he always want to “help” you sweep? Do you constantly get asked what can I do? You are looking then at an Acts of Service child.
- A young child who always calls you pretty, or constantly wants you to look at her and tell her how pretty her dress is, would be a Words of Affirmation child.
- Your child who always wants to be where you are, to cuddle with you on the couch, sit next to you at supper time, talk to you in the kitchen, is a Quality Time child.
The effects of love languages
Remember, your child will speak to you in their love language. If you start speaking back to them in this language, which gives them the kind of love they understand, you will have a happier child. A happier child becomes a more confident child, and you will see a difference in all-round behaviour and attitude.
A more comprehensive quiz for older children and adults can be found at www.5lovelanguages.com, or read Dr Gary Chapman’s book, The Five Love Languages, which explains the concept in much more detail.