Learning Your Spouse’s Love Languages

Have you ever had a misunderstanding with your spouse where they say they don’t feel loved—even when you feel like you’ve done everything to express your love for them? If so, it may be a matter of crossed signals, or of you two not speaking the same language. 

Although cross-cultural marriages may have language barriers, I’m not talking about a literal language, but about our love languages.

We have experienced this ourselves several times in the past. For example, I feel most loved when someone spends time with me and listens to my thoughts and dreams. My love tank would be filled up, and I would function at my best.  

Joy, on the other hand, loves to serve people as a way of expressing her love. So, in her desire to express her love to me, she may spend time to whip up an elaborate meal, complete with all the garnishings and everything. But perhaps because I grew up used to being served all the time, it doesn’t really mean as much too me.  

In my perspective, if we don’t get to spend extra time talking over the meal, I may end up dissatisfied. And it’s not as if she didn’t express her love for me. It just wasn’t in a way that met my need for feeling loved.  

Now, before you write me off as a totally ungrateful husband, let me explain.

What are the love languages?

The term “love language” was first coined by author and relationship expert Dr. Gary Chapman,  on his radio show series The Five Love Languages. In his first book, “The Five Love Languages: How to Express Heartfelt Commitment to Your Mate,” he explains how we have different ways of expressing and receiving love. 

They are not necessarily right or wrong ways of interpreting something as love; it’s just the way we are naturally wired, and is another aspect of our uniqueness that makes our relationships so exciting.

Why do we need to know each other’s love languages?

We discover each other’s love languages in order to meet each other’s needs more effectively. We can say “I love you” until we’re blue in the face, but if the message isn’t getting across to our partner, it won’t be any good. 

Our goal is not to nitpick each other’s preferences, but to recognize them and find ways to make our partner feel loved.

We discover each other’s love languages in order to meet each other’s needs more effectively. Our goal is not to nitpick each other’s preferences, but to recognize them and find ways to make our partner feel loved.
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The Five Love Languages

Dr. Chapman outlines the five love languages as the following:

Words of Affirmation

A person whose receiving love language is words of affirmation feels most loved when someone appreciates him verbally. 

If your spouse values words of affirmation and you aren’t used to expressing appreciation, it may take some practice, but we believe with the right attitude to making changes, you’ll get there!

Acts of Service

A person whose love language is acts of service gives love by serving other people, and feels loved when someone serves him or her. It can be the harried housewife who doesn’t say anything but secretly wishes her husband or children can think of doing the dishes or taking out the trash. 

 If you learn that your spouse feels loved by acts of service, you can find ways of meeting that need by asking what she would like to be done, and doing it right away.

Quality Time

A person with quality time as a love language feels loved when you spend uninterrupted time with him or her. It doesn’t have to be anywhere expensive, as long as your partner feels that you are giving your undivided attention.


People whose love language is gifts feels loved when, you guessed it, you give them a gift. But it can’t be just any random trinket picked up on the way home; they feel loved when it’s something thoughtfully given, that matches their personality and interests. It makes them feel “seen” and understood.


A person whose love language is touch feels loved when you hug them, massage them, and offer physical intimacy with them. This may be an area of conflict to many couples, with one of the couple wanting more physical intimacy than the other. But understanding how it can be part of the love languages helps us to adjust in order to meet our partner’s needs before our own.

Discover Your Love Languages

Want to know you and your spouse’s love languages?  Take the quiz here.

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