Love Languages with Nina Kosubevsky
Welcome to our new blog series on Love Languages and Relationships. In this series, Nina and I will be discussing the concept of Love Languages and how they play a role in our communication with those we love. We’ll explore:
- What are Love Languages?
- Reflection on Personality and Gift Giving vs Acts of Service
- The interplay of Love Languages and Children
- Love: How We Give vs How We Receive
A lot of people often wonder what exactly love languages are and how they work. Here Nina and I will discuss these values and how they relate our lives and relationships of any type, whether that be a partner, a child, or friend or colleague. You might struggle at times to understand why you don’t feel loved by the people you care about and show love to, and as we approach Valentine’s Day, you might be struggling to think about how you can show the people you love that you do in fact love them. That’s where the importance of Love Languages comes in.
That’s why it’s so important to understand our love languages. What Mike said above directly relates to the originator of the concept of Love Languages, Gary Chapman. Dr. Chapman (2015) proposed that when partners speak each other’s preferred love language, they will feel love and greater relationship satisfaction. This means that their “love tank” is full.
What’s a Love Tank you ask?
Put simply it’s when you’re receiving the love language from your partner and friends that you speak. You can think about it like a tank of gas in the car. Your love languages are fuel for your love tank, so when you’re shown love in the way you speak it, your tank fills up. And when your tank is full, you feel loved, appreciated, and understood. When, however, your partner doesn’t show you the type of love you need, even though they may think they’re showing you love, in reality, your tank is empty.
Exactly. And when that happens, you feel unfulfilled in your relationships and that’s when relationships strain and, sadly, can fall apart. What are the love languages, Nina? I’m sure that’s what many are wanting help to understand.
The five love languages that Dr Chapman outlines are:
- Words of affirmation – This involves you being intentional, and verbally appreciating another person by stating kind things to them about them. Chapman (2015) states that “a soft tone is needed, and it is also important to use kind words and make humble requests. Another way to affirm a partner is by complimenting the partner in the presence of friends, family, or coworkers” This can be applied to anyone: not just your partner but your children. As Mike has shared with me, “As an educator, words of affirmation are so important! We call it positive reinforcement, but it’s really the same thing. It tells the child that you care, that you believe in them, and that they aren’t alone.” That’s why if your child is acting out or misbehaving, one of the best ways to fix that is not to demand they stop, but to affirm them.
- Physical touch-This is as simple as it sounds. When someone’s love language is physical touch, the way to fill their love tank up is by giving them kind and consensual touches. This can be a hugs, a pat on the back, kisses, hand-holding, etc. Oftentimes, you might find that your partner or children’s love language is physical touch but yours isn’t. This can sometimes feel like a burden. It’s important to remember that physical touch builds intimacy, especially in relationships. As Mike shared, “Some people are just huggers”. While this is true, you might be one of the ones for whom physical touch is just not your thing. By understanding what your partner or loved ones need, you can realize that love truly at its core, is sacrificial. But it’s also important for both partners to have clear a strong consensual boundaries. If one of you is averse to public displays of affection, it would be unreasonable for the other to demand it. To paraphrase Dr Chapman, love is not demanding (Chapman, 2015).
- Receiving Gifts – You might have bad experiences with gift giving and / or receiving. You might feel like your gifts are appreciated or like the person giving you gifts put no thought into it. What you might often construe about gift giving is that people who enjoy this are all about money. In reality, having gift giving as your love language just means that you enjoy the thought people put behind gifting you something. The price does not matter at all. Rather, it is the thought behind it. A person could give the gift of their presence, such as by taking off when your relative dies. Chapman, actually points out that, “gifts do not have to cost money; instead, what is important is that, for some people, gifts feel like a tangible symbol of love”, So even gifting someone with this love language a flower you got off the side of the road will help fill up their love tank.
- Quality time – This can be defined as giving someone undivided attention, meaning no phones and no TV. Taking time to have a conversation or do something together. Quality time means giving the person you’re with your undivided attention. It’s not just hearing to your partner or friend: it’s listening to them and responding. Not with a ‘solution’ but with genuine acknowledgement and compassion. It’s taking time with your friend, your partner, your child, etc, and being with them. Taking a walk together, cooking together, or even discussing another person’s day and putting genuine interest in their response, are all great ways to engage in quality time.
- Acts of service – Acts of Service can be defined as doing something you know the other person will appreciate. Whether it be folding their laundry that they have had no time to do or filling up their water bottle before going to the gym. This shows that one person was thinking of the other person. With your children, this is something you might feel is being taking advantage of: like you’re a doormat. Love, and acts of service, should never feel like you’re the doormat for another person. Chapman notes that, “When we treat our spouses as objects, we preclude the possibility of love. Manipulation by guilt (“If you were a good spouse, you would do this for me”) is not the language of love. Coercion by fear (“You will do this or you will be sorry”) is alien to love. No person should ever be a doormat” (Chapman, 2015).
Hopefully this brief explanation has helped you to understand how love languages work and has started you thinking about your own love languages. Take some time to reflect on what your love languages are and how you would want people to express their love to you. You might even write down your reflections about what ways your partner or friends express their love, and how receive yours. It’s a great way to come to a deeper understanding about yourself and your loved ones.Having a conversation with those close to you about love languages can be helpful in saving relationships. If you wish to explore love languages more don’t hesitate to email me or give our intake coordinator a call if that’s something you want for yourself and your relationships. Whatever the case may be, we’re here to help!