Quality time for couples – photo courtesy of Farm Security Administration – photographer: Russell LeeCredit: photo courtesy of Farm Security Administration – photographer: Russell Lee

Divorce rates have soared over the years and people are often at a loss as to what happened to the love they once felt for their partners.  Gary Chapman, in his book “The Five Love Languages,” suggests one of the problems is people speak a different love language and in order to truly express a love that is accepted by a partner; it is important to learn the primary love language of each other.  He identifies these five love languages:

  • Words of Affirmation
  • Quality Time
  • Receiving Gifts
  • Acts of Service
  • Physical Touch 

Words of Affirmation 

A powerful way to communicate love is to give compliments, or words of appreciation; best given in simple straight-forward statements.  When given complementary words people are more likely to reciprocate. 

Another way of giving words of affirmation is by giving statements of encouragement. This does not mean nagging someone to do something because it might be for his or her own good.  Encouragement comes from a position of empathy and seeing the world from the other’s perspective.  Words of affirmation are kind and humble words; making requests instead of demands.   

The Love Language of Quality Time 

Quality time is giving someone full attention, giving of self whole-heartedly.   Togetherness is a central aspect of quality time.   It isn’t about doing things with the person as much as it is about the time spent while doing the activity—the togetherness of it.   

Quality time means having quality conversation; truly listening sympathetically.  It’s drawing out feelings and ideas in a way that doesn’t badger or judge.  Quality conversation requires learning to talk and listen; to reveal about self. 

Receiving Gifts – the Third Love Language 

Gifts are visual symbols of love; something that can be touched and held.  While gifts can be expensive or free (giving of self); people whose primary love language is gifts will not be concerned with the monetary value of the gift.   Learning this language, according to Chapman, is one of the easiest love languages to learn. 

If giving material gifts, it may require an adjustment of attitudes regarding money.  Savers invest in their own emotional needs by purchasing self-worth and emotional security.  They need to invest in the emotional needs of their loved ones; this in turn will invest in their own emotional needs when love is reciprocated.   

Acts of Service 

Acts of service are doing things the other person wants to be done.  It is expressing love by serving the person; doing without complaints or the person making nagging requests for them to be done. Examples include cooking dinner, having a clean house, doing yard work, and taking out the garbage. 

Do not take the acts of service as permission to be or treat others as a doormat.  People love out of a desire for emotional connection; becoming a doormat is manipulation by guilt or coercion by fear (“if you loved me you would…”).  This is not love by either person.   People may need to take a look at their perceptions or stereotypes to help them adjust to speaking the love language of acts of service.    

The Love Language of Physical Touch 

Physical touch is a powerful communicator of love.   Holding hands, kissing, hugging and sexual intercourPhysical Touch is one of Five Love Languages – photo courtesy of the United States Marine Corps – photographer: Marine Cpl. Jessica L. MartinezCredit: photo courtesy of the United States Marine Corps – photographer: Marine Cpl. Jessica L. Martinezse are all ways of communicating emotional love. The body has many tactile receptors and touch can communicate “hate” as well as “love.” 

When people have physical touch as a primary love language; it is important to learn which touches speak love to them; versus which touches are uncomfortable or irritating.  Obviously a slap in the face doesn’t communicate love; but by the same token, a hand on the shoulder may be irritating to some, comforting and expressive of love to others.   

Determining Primary Love Language 

Many men believe that simply because they have a physical need for sexual intercourse; their primary language is physical touch.  However, this is often not the case.  To determine which primary language makes someone feel loved the five languages need to be examined in a way of “which one of these makes me feel loved above all else?” 

A way to further clarify this idea is to look at it in the opposite way.  When a primary love language is used in a negative way; it hurts deeply.  Which of the love languages, if used negatively, would be like a knife to the heart?   

Another way of determining the primary language is to examine what has been most requested of the other person, who may have perceived the requests as nagging.  When people make requests of others they love; it is usually in efforts to secure emotional love.   

A final approach is for people to examine how they regularly express their love to others.  Their method often indicates how they would also feel loved. Learning a new language that doesn’t come natural isn’t necessarily an easy thing to do.  However, doing something that doesn’t come naturally is in fact a greater expression of love!



Chapman, Gary (2004). The Five Love Languages. Chicago, Il: Northfield Publishing. 



The copyright of the article “The Five Love Languages that Keep Love Alive” is owned by Cheryl Weldon and permission to republish in print or online must be granted by the author in writing.