The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman is a book written by an experienced marriage and family therapist. In it, he gives married couples an important tool for making their marriage last. Through using knowledge of our spouse and ourselves, we can make sure our beloved partners know how much we love them through what we say to and do for them. It is the key to understanding each other. Once we feel understood, we are more likely to give the other understanding when we witness their human imperfections in action.

This applies not only to marriage. Close, lasting friendships also depend on each person in the relationship paying attention and speaking the love language that is most important to the other person, the one our friend hears most clearly. That is the way of building mutual trust and commitment.

1. Words of Affirmation

The first way we show acceptance and love toward our beau, spouse or friend is to give them words of affirmation meant to lift their hearts. Our words have to power to heal the hearts of our loved ones, and speaking loving words to them heals the wounds that the woes of every day life inflicts on us.

Words of Appreciation

Words of appreciation are those that let our loved ones know we appreciate the good things they bring to the relationship and acknowledge that their strengths have the power to make our lives better. One example might be,

“I love the way you notice when the bathrooms need to be cleaned and just take care of them so that I can think about other things.”


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“When you come right home after work, it makes me feel happy that we have the evening to spend together.”

Words of Praise

Words of praise recognize the positive traits of the other person. They can sound like,

“That yellow dress looks beautiful with your dark hair and green eyes. It’s so good to see you wearing it.”


“You are such a wonderful cook. I can taste all of the love you put into the meals you prepare. I’m so lucky to have you in my life.”

“A rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” ~ Juliet, in A Midsummer Night’s Dream

A yellow rose was left for me by my coworker at the desk where I cover for her vacation time each summer. | Source

2. Spending Quality Time Together

Some people enjoy expressing their love and appreciation by spending quality time with their partners, friends and extended family members. They love to plan activities and outings that give them the chance to speak to their partners and friends face-to-face, catching up with what is happening in their lives and listening attentively to how they feel. They support those most beloved to them through being by their side with both their presence and words of encouragement.

What Does Quality Time Look Like?

Spending quality time means looking our friends and loved ones in the eye and listening attentively to them, engaging in lively conversation that is relevant to what they are experiencing in their lives at the time. It also means reflecting the essence of what they are saying with our posture and facial expressions.

A night of cuddling by a fire while listening to romantic music is one way to spend quality time together. I love to cuddle by Christmas tree lights, listening to carols and sipping hot cocoa, with my daughter or a friend.

I also love to spend time at the seashore. Last September my daughter, husband and I stayed in a cabin in Maine owned by our neighbors. We spent the weekend exploring Acadia National Park. This included time at Sand Beach. When we traveled to Chincoteague, VA with my mother, my daughter and I loved spending an afternoon splashing in the waves at Assateague National Seashore.

Another way to spend quality time together is to meet at a cafe or ice cream parlor to chat. Every summer, my UU friends and I gather at our local creamery to spend time together in lively conversation. We keep in touch when most church activities are suspended and keep the bonds between us strong. If someone needs extra support, we know about it. We ask what type of support they need most, i.e. the love language that means most to them, and commit to giving it to them.

Spending Quality Face Time With Family Matters

My daughter took a trip to Missouri last summer to spend some quality time with her grandparents. Here she is chatting with her Grandpa on the day of her arrival. | Source

3. Connection Through Touch

For some people, touch is the way they feel most loved. It is part of their chemical makeup. If they pass long periods of time without touch, they feel lonely and unappreciated. They may even begin to feel invisible. They need their lover to hold and kiss them. They thrive on hugs from friends.

If this is true for you and you feel that your lover does not touch you very much, please let the person know. You must ask them to reach out more if you are to receive love the way you need it most. It is also good to find out when the best time to reach out for what you need from them. Knowing this, you can reduce your chances of feeling rejected by choosing the right time to initiate physical contact. Exchange information about each other’s primary love language and make an effort to do more of what makes the other person feel most loved in return.

Reaching Out: Giving Is Also Receiving

I did not come from a touchy family, but I thrive on touch as a means for feeling loved. Perhaps it is because I was not touched very much as a child that I feel the need for hugs as a form of affirmation. In the past, this has been both a curse and a blessing for me.

At the moment, my love of physical touch is a blessing because I enjoy all of the hugs that my daughter bestows on me. I also reach out for hugs when my well begins to run dry. Our UU church is filled with huggable fellow congregants, so my well gets filled every Sunday. When I reach out to give a friend a hug at church I receive on in return, and feel affirmed.

Touch Is a Baby’s Favorite Love Language

Babies feel most welcomed by the world through nurturing touch. My daughter loved holding her new cousin at a recent family wedding. Weddings are great occasions for family reunions. | Source

4. Acts of Service

Many people show love through acts of service. Touch may not be their primary love language, but doing things to please their spouse is their favorite way to show their love and devotion. There may be a skill or talent that they love to share with others, especially those closest to them.

Types of Service

Whether or not acts of “service” is your primary love language, there may be things you can do to make your lover and friends feel appreciated and loved. Helping with a task on a day someone in your life feels overwhelmed by their to-do list will magnify the impact of your actions. Here are some examples:

  • Shop for groceries and put them away
  • Prepare dinner
  • Set the table
  • Run the dishwasher and put clean dishes away
  • Keep the family car maintained
  • Make sure the clothes are clean
  • Maintain your house by keeping everything together and working
  • Treat the children to a special outing to give your partner some “down time”
  • Knit scarves and hats for your spouse, children and friends

Friends in the Service of Friends

My daugther’s best friends helped her hold signs to support the campaign of a neighbor running for local office. | Source

5. Giving and Receiving Gifts

You may have grown up in a home where gifts were closely associated with love. Giving and receiving gifts was the way that your family expressed caring. This may prompt you to give gifts as an expression of love for the people in your life who matter most. Shopping for gifts to give friends gives you pleasure. You may also enjoy receiving gifts as much as giving them.

Gifts are physical reminders of your relationship with someone, and specific gifts are associated with aspects of your relationship associated with fond memories. You may be inspired to give gifts to your lover or friends because you find something that you associate with them.

The benefit of exchanging gifts is that each person has something that reminds them of the other. Each time they see or touch the object, they are reminded of good times spent with the person they love.

My friends and family know that I’m wild about sea otters. I have a Pinterest board devoted to Otters. Several of my friends send me pictures and videos of adorable otters via Facebook to entertain me. My friend Karen has given me a small otter plush doll. My aunt gave me a life-sized otter puppet. Gifts are a way of recognizing and affirming a unique passion in a lover or friend and giving them something fun related to their interest.

My husband knows I love to write, so he has given me a number of journals to write my thoughts in, which I have filled up in many different ways.

A Perfect Gift for Me Is a Green Tea Latte

My husband gives me a Starbucks gift card every Christmas, with which I buy several green tea lattes. | Source


When we speak to each other in the love language the other person hears best, we all benefit. Endorphins, the pleasure chemicals, are released, which boost our immune systems. We all move closer to living satisfying lives that feed us in ways that are lasting. Our bonds with others grow stronger and our happiness increases.

To give is to also receive, so let’s keep giving all year round. Let February 14th be a celebration of all that we have to give those in our lives most precious to us.

Aspects of Love — The Five Love Languages Summed Up for You

Love Language
What it Means
What it Does
How it Looks and/or Sounds
Words of Affirmation
Words that express appreciation for or praise of a loved one
Lift the person’s spirit and make them feel valued
“You look fantastic in that purple blouse!”
Quality Time
Spending time with another person doing something that is meaningful for both of you.
Strengthens the bonds of your relationship
Taking a walk in a park and having a picnic lunch together
Physical Touch
Sharing affection through safe physical contact
Strengthens bonds; increases mutual trust and comfort
Sharing hugs, cuddling, holding hands, walking with arms around each other
Acts of Service
Completing helpful tasks for the other person
Reduces stress; relaxes, gives the message that you are there for the person, that they can count on you
Fixing a piece of furniture; grocery shopping; preparing a meal
Receiving Gifts
Giving a treasure that is meaningful for the person you care about
Brings pleasure to the receiver and creates a happy memory between the two of you
A new plant for your friends’ garden; a fresh bottle of your partner’s favorite nail polish


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