How the 5 Love Languages Help Strengthen Your Relationship

How the 5 Love Languages Help Strengthen Your Relationship

You may have been hearing “The 5 Love Languages” buzz around the internet for the last couple of years. But really, what are the love languages. Everyone gives and receives love in different ways. So, the goal of this article is to help couples gain a deeper understanding of what are the love languages and

You may have been hearing “The 5 Love Languages” buzz around the internet for the last couple of years. But really, what are the love languages.

Everyone gives and receives love in different ways. So, the goal of this article is to help couples gain a deeper understanding of what are the love languages and their differences and boost communication.

The love language test applies for couples or for singles who want to understand what are the love languages they need from a relationship. The test also applies to men who want to succeed in life, for children and teens, and even for those in military service who face unique relationship challenges.

So what are the 5 love languages, and what’s the point in finding out more about them?

What Are the 5 Love Languages?

1. Words of Affirmation

You need to hear your partner express their love for you verbally. This can include romantic affections, expressions of appreciation, and simple manners.

2. Acts of Service

Having your partner help you out around the house or do something to make your day a little easier (like making you breakfast or shoveling the snowy walkway) means more to you than a bouquet of flowers ever could.

3. Receiving Gifts

Don’t mistake receiving gifts with being spoiled! This only means that you feel the most loved when your spouse surprises you with a gift that lets you know they were thinking about you.

4. Quality Time

You need to spend time with your spouse doing something that doesn’t involve watching television or playing on your phone. You receive love when you get undivided attention from your spouse.

5. Physical Touch

You receive love when you are hugging, kissing, caressing, holding hands, and being sexually intimate with your partner. It connects and refreshes you in a way that nothing else can.

Why We Need the 5 Love Languages

Imagine this:

A husband showers his wife with gifts and quality time, but she continues to tell him that she doesn’t feel loved.

Why does she feel this way? The husband comes to discover that his wife’s love language is “acts of service.” She is feeling burnt out with work, raising children, and tending to the house.

The husband had great intentions with his gifts, but what his wife really needed was some help around the house.

Similarly, a wife who’s love language is “physical touch” may regularly be affectionate and intimate with her husband several times a week. So, when he tells her he is feeling unappreciated, she is beyond surprised.

What else can she possibly do to make him feel special? After taking the what are the love languages quiz, she realizes that his love language is “words of affirmation.” So, while sex is a great way to connect as a couple, what he needs from her is a verbal assurance of love or admiration.

This is how not knowing what your spouse’s love language is can affect your relationship.

Can the Love Languages Improve Your Relationship?

We all like to think we know our partner better than anyone else, but sometimes we only see what we want to see. This is where learning the 5 Love Languages comes in so handy.

Learning what are the love languages, how they give, and prefer to receive love enhances our relationship with our partner. Also, we develop a deeper understanding of what their needs really are – not what we assume they are.

Here are just some of the ways that learning your spouse’s love language can strengthen your relationship.

How to Strengthen Your Relationship with the Love Languages

1. Communicate with Your Partner

If you’ve ever gotten relationship advice from any long-married friends or family, you have probably heard the age-old adage, good communication is the key!

Communication is the key to conflict resolution, a happy marriage and a great foundation for a relationship.

A study published by the Journal of  Marriage and Family reports that couples who communicate are more satisfied with their relationship.[1] The research also suggests that couples are more positive and exhibit less negative behavior with one another, regardless of gender.

Tips for great communication includes:

  • Making a habit of daily conversations
  • Not interrupting your partner when they are speaking
  • Actively listening
  • Removing distractions (cell phones, television blaring in the background, etc.) from your conversations
  • Being calm and respectful when voicing opinions
  • Looking at things from your partner’s perspective
  • Compromising
  • Not assuming you know everything about your spouse
  • Talking often about things both big and small
  • Not only does better communication do away with unnecessary arguments and deepen marital friendship, but it can also do wonders for your sex life.

Studies show that communicating about your intimate needs boosts overall relationship sexual satisfaction, quality, and results in increased orgasm frequency in females.

When you learn what are the love languages of your partner, you understand how to communicate with them on a much deeper level than you ever knew possible. After all, now you’re ‘speaking their language.’

2. Learn How to Empathize

What is empathy? Simply put, you can put yourself in your spouse’s shoes. When they’re stressed, you can sympathize. And when they’re happy, you’re ecstatic!

On the other hand, whenever the people around you are sad, you feel distressed. Do you see the pattern here?

Empathy is understanding someone else’s feelings. Having empathy is a great quality in a relationship, but not everyone is born with the magnetic ability to sympathize with others.

Learning what the love languages of your partner are will help you develop a deeper understanding of how they think, feel, and respond to things.

For example, you may not think anything of being off the grid with your spouse during the day (no calls, texts, or video chats).

Let’s say, you are off the grid for the day while you’re at work or out with your friends. And then, you didn’t call your wife, text her, or video chat. When you got home, she’s upset.

But why?

She knows you love her and you’re not a guy who likes to be on his phone while he’s out with other people. So, what’s the big deal? Why is she overreacting over nothing?

After taking the Love Language test, you find out that your wife responds highest to words of affirmation and quality time. Then her actions and how she feels will start to make sense.

She’s not mad because she is trying to be the nasty wife who’s wrecking your guy’s night. She’s upset because hearing from you, even if only for a couple of minutes, is what makes her feel loved.

By learning what the love languages of your partner are, you can better understand and empathize with how they feel and why they act or react to certain things the way they do.

3. Express Affection in a Way That Matters

One study examined 295 college students, 195 females and 100 males, to see how physical affection affected a relationship.[2]

The physical affection mentioned included holding hands, kissing, caressing, giving or receiving massages, and cuddling.

The research, published by The American Journal of Family Therapy, found that:[3]

“(Romantic physical affection) is found to be highly correlated with relationship and partner satisfaction.”

Interestingly, the study also posits that the more physical affection a couple has, the better their conflict resolution skills were.

If you spend plenty of quality time with your husband and he still seems distant, it may be because his love language is physical touch.

Consider this: he isn’t vying for sex all the time just because it feels great, he’s doing it because it’s how he connects to you.

Once you learn your spouse’s love language, you can express your feelings in the ways that will matter the most to them. And, you will argue less.

4. Connect on a Deeper Level

We spend so much of our time in relationships wondering what the other person is thinking, and this often leads to arguments and misunderstandings. The inability to talk to your spouse about both the important and the silly things in life leads to relationship devastation.

Don’t believe me? In a survey of 886 divorcing individuals, a whopping 55% cited being unable to communicate as the downfall of their relationship.[4]

When couples learn how each partner expresses themselves, it improves communication. In turn, this gives each person the courage to speak up about relationship-issues before they spiral into resentment. In turn, it leads to an improved friendship between you and your partner.

Romance is great, but it isn’t everything in a relationship. There’s something to be said for having a deep friendship with the one you love. When you learn your spouse’s love language, you start to connect on a deeper level – romantically and otherwise.

This is good news for you because research published in the Journal of Happiness Studies found that couples who view one another as their best friend double their marital happiness.[5]

As researchers Shawn Grover and John F. Helliwell explain,[6]

“We explore the role of friendship within marriage, finding that in our United Kingdom data the well-being benefits of marriage are much greater for those who also regard their spouse as their best friend.”

Final Thoughts

Now that you know your partner’s love language, you will be able to express your affection in a powerful new way.

In return, your spouse now knows exactly what you need to feel loved and appreciated in your relationship.

With these news lines of communication open, you and your spouse can conquer any problem and strengthen your relationship against whatever comes your way.[7]

What do you have to lose? Sit down with your spouse and take the 5 Love Languages test and find out the language of your hearts.

Learning what are the love languages your spouse or partner have will help you communicate better, not take things so personally, to better empathize, master conflict resolution, improve your romantic friendship, and become more observant in your relationship.

Do you have a friend who says they’d take a clean kitchen over flowers any day when you’d prefer a little romance? That right there is a basic example of different love languages.

We all express and receive love differently and those differences could be the reason why feelings and good intentions sometimes get lost in translation.

For example, you spend weeks trying to find a partner the most amazing gift ever, but come their birthday they respond with “I would’ve been happy just ordering in and then snuggling up on the couch together.”

It’s not necessarily that they’re ungrateful or that you messed up. They just communicate their love differently — or have a different love language.

Recognizing how you and a partner like to receive and express love could lead to more thoughtful connections and a healthy relationship — not to mention less explosive birthdays and Valentines.

There are five love languages as first introduced in 1992 by marriage counselor Dr. Gary Chapman in his book “The 5 Love Languages.”

The five love languages are:

  1. Words of affirmation
  2. Quality time
  3. Physical touch
  4. Acts of service
  5. Receiving gifts

FYI, love languages don’t just apply to romantic relationships. They can be helpful in your platonic relationships, too. (We’ll get into that and more in a sec.)

The first love language is words of affirmation, and it’s all about expressing affection and appreciation through words, be it spoken, written, in texts, or all of the above.

This may be one of your love languages if you thrive on:

  • being told that you’re appreciated
  • hearing “I love you” often
  • receiving words of encouragement

The key to using words of affirmation is to be your authentic self and express them often. If you have trouble expressing yourself out loud, write a note or send a text. What matters is that you acknowledge them through words.

For a partner, it could mean telling them you love them more often or checking in throughout the day to tell them you’re thinking of them. For a friend, words of affirmation could mean a text to say “You’ll be great!” before a job interview or complimenting them on their outfit.

Here are some examples of words of affirmation you can use in romantic or platonic relationships:

  • “I love you.”
  • “Our friendship is important to me.”
  • “You got this.”
  • “I’m so proud of you.”
  • “Thank you for loving me/doing all that you do/being my friend/etc.”

Quality time is the second love language and it’s precisely what you think: appreciating spending quality time together.

A person whose love language is quality time may feel most loved and appreciated when people they care about make time to be together and give their undivided attention.

Quality time may be one of your love languages if:

  • You feel disconnected when you don’t spend enough time with a partner.
  • Not spending enough time with your partner(s) affects your libido.
  • You work hard at making time to spend with others.

Quality time looks different to everyone. Some people value a few minutes of dedicated time to just sit and relax together at the end of the day. For others, quality time means setting aside time to enjoy activities together.

No matter what you’re doing, quality time requires being completely present and free of distractions.

Here are some examples of expressing your love through quality time:

  • Cuddling together in bed for a few minutes every morning before getting up.
  • Making a point of having a date night every week.
  • Scheduling time to hang with your BFF, no matter how busy you both are.
  • Turning off your phone when you’re having a conversation or doing something together.
  • Creating a ritual, like meeting for lunch once a week or taking a walk after dinner.

Physical touch is the third love language. Let’s be clear that this is appropriate, consensual physical touch, which looks different depending on the situation and the type of relationship you have with the person.

For people whose love language is physical touch, expressing and receiving love through physical contact is important. Touch is the way they connect and feel connected with others.

Physical contact might be your love language if:

  • You feel lonely or disconnected when you don’t get physical affection from your partner(s).
  • You feel especially loved when a partner randomly kisses you or holds you.
  • You consider yourself a “touchy-feely” person and enjoy PDA.

Obviously, the way you can and should touch others really comes down to the relationship you share. Expressing affection through physical touch can happen through small physical gestures, like a hug or snuggling. If appropriate, it can also involve more intimate contact like kissing, and yes, sexual activities.

Here are some examples of expressing love through physical touch:

  • Kissing a partner hello and goodbye.
  • Being generous with your affection, including in public.
  • Spending some time cuddling in bed before and after sleep.
  • Prioritizing sex, even if you have to schedule it.
  • Using touch when comforting them, such as placing your hand on theirs or holding them.

Again, consent is a must. Only touch someone or use these examples if they’ve conveyed they’re wanted and welcome.

Acts of service is the fourth love language, and this one will resonate if you believe with your heart of hearts that actions always speak louder than words.

By actions, this means doing selfless, thoughtful things for the other person. Remember that these don’t need to be romantic in nature; friends and family relationships can benefit from these acts, too.

These are some signs that acts of service may be your love language:

  • You’re over the moon when a partner helps you with a chore without having to be asked.
  • You’re the person who shows up for a friend having a bad day.
  • You’re always ready to jump in and do things for the people you care about.

Acts of service aren’t about grand gestures, but rather thoughtful gestures that serve them, like pouring them a coffee in the morning, or running an errand for your busy friend or loved one.

Here are examples of ways you can use acts of service to love on others:

  • Taking them to dinner without it being a special occasion or asked for.
  • Drawing a partner a bubble bath without any sexpectations.
  • Offering to babysit for a friend so they can enjoy a much-deserved break.
  • Letting them choose which movie to watch, even if it’s “Star Wars” and you hate “Star Wars.”
  • Picking up their favorite flowers/soap/wine/chocolate/whatever, just because.

Receiving gifts is the final love language. It needs to be said that this love language is not reserved for the greedy or so-called “gold diggers.”

For someone whose love language is gifts, it goes way beyond just wanting stuff. For this person, it’s all about the meaning behind the gift and the thought that went into it. No diamonds or luxury cars are required.

Signs that receiving gifts is your love language:

  • When it comes to gift-giving, you put in the time to choose the most thoughtful gift.
  • You treasure everything a partner gives you, no matter how small.
  • You’re hurt when someone you love doesn’t commemorate an event with a thoughtful token.

Showing love through gifts isn’t about extravagance. A small memento will be just as appreciated because big or small, a gift is a tangible reminder that they were thought of and are loved.

Here are some ways to show love to someone whose love language is receiving gifts:

  • Picking up their favorite pastry or candy on your way home.
  • Surprising them with flowers — whether store-bought or picked from the side of the road.
  • Giving them a thoughtful greeting card just because.
  • Bringing your BFF a keepsake from your early friendship, like a picture from your first road trip.
  • Choosing gifts that are personal to your relationship. (Think: an inside joke or shared memory or event.)

The five love languages provide a great framework for understanding your relationship(s) and each other, but they don’t necessarily represent exactly how everyone wants to give and show love.

Chances are that you resonate strongly with more than one of the love languages and your partner(s) and other loved ones do, too.

Gender and cultural norms have also shifted quite a bit since the love languages were first introduced, and how we express love and how we want to be loved has shifted right alongside.

While we all have our own ways of expressing love, they don’t necessarily fit neatly into one of the five presets laid out in a time when women were historically more likely to serve and men were better equipped — financially speaking — to give gifts.

If you’re looking for better understanding and communication in a relationship, the original love languages can be a good start, but there are other tools you can use.

A survey by Truity, a company offering personality tests, recently shared their finding of seven love styles based on a survey of over 500,000 people. Consider it an updated framework of the original love languages, plus two extras. You can fill out their online quiz to figure out your styles.

There’s also the Routes of Safety model created by Jake Ernst, MSW, RSW, a Toronto-based psychotherapist, that’s in his words, “trauma-informed” love languages.

Connecting with a relationship counselor is another way to go. You might find it helpful to look into online counseling or in-person therapy.

Everyone has a different way of communicating their love. While you shouldn’t take it as gospel, the love languages could be a helpful starting point on your way to understanding each other better.


Adrienne Santos-Longhurst is a Canada-based freelance writer and author who has written extensively on all things health and lifestyle for more than a decade. When she’s not holed-up in her writing shed researching an article or off interviewing health professionals, she can be found frolicking around her beach town with husband and dogs in tow or splashing about the lake trying to master the stand-up paddle board.