Marriage is difficult. It is rewarding. It is unpredictable. At times it seems like an uphill battle and at other times, it the best thing that has ever happened in my life. I know that it is constantly refining me, teaching me, and making me a better person through the tears of joy and pain, and I am honored to experience this earthly representation of Christ’s love for his church.
A couple books by Gary Chapman that have helped our marriage and that I always recommend to my clients are The 5 Love Languages and The 5 Languages of Apology. If you and your spouse are not speaking each other’s language, you will not feel loved and appreciated. We typically speak in the language that we like to hear, but most likely, you and your spouse don’t speak the same language (metaphorically that is!)
The 5 languages of love are listed below. You can go online to take a quiz that will help you figure out your language if you are unsure. Sometimes you might feel that you speak two languages equally—that’s okay! In fact, it just allows your spouse to have more options.
Love Language #1: Words of Affirmation
We all need encouragement, but if this is your love language, you need it in order to feel loved by your spouse. For some, affirmation comes easily. For others, it’s a real struggle. If this is your spouse’ language, here are some examples to help get you started:
- Write little notes of encouragement at night on the bathroom mirror for your spouse to see when they get ready in the morning.
- Make it a habit to tell your spouse one thing you admire about them daily—maybe over dinner each night or right before bed.
- When you pray together at night, thank God for all the characteristics that you love about your spouse.
Love Language #2: Quality Time
It’s the quality of the time together, not the quantity. If this is your love language, you want your spouse to spend meaningful time with you. Your time together means the world to you. Sitting in bed every night watching your favorite shows together probably isn’t enough. Here are some more purposeful options:
- “Couch time” Many couples have couch time together each day. It’s the first 10-15 minutes after the last spouse gets home from work. Even if you have kids, it’s “mommy and daddy time.” You are setting an example for them that your spouse is the most important person in your life. During this time, you discuss anything from how your days were to concerns you have that might need further discussion that night.
- “Date night” This might seem like a no brainer, but many couples forget to continue dating once married. My parents always went out on Friday nights. They made sure they did this for their marriage. They had a babysitter reserved and saved the cash to pay her. By the way, my babysitter became like an older sister to me and I adored her and my time with her! Your kids might need a break from you as much as you do from them!
- “Be intentional” It’s easy to say that you hang out with your spouse all the time because you are in the same vicinity. That’s not going to cut it for the spouse that needs quality time. So try to be more intentional. Make out a list of things that you can ask your spouse when you are together. This can be anything from “If we could take a trip anywhere in the world, where would it be and why?” to “If we could work more on one aspect of our marriage, what would it be and how will we do that?”
Love Language #3: Receiving Gifts
A thoughtful gift goes a long way if this is your spouse’s language. This doesn’t mean you have to go out and buy a pair of Kendra Scott earrings every week or the newest electronics. Although these things are always nice, it’s not the amount of money you spend, but the thought that counts. Here are some less expensive ideas:
- A letter or card. I keep all the letters and cards that Patrick gives me and he does the same. I love looking back and reading them to remind me of our love for each other.
- Make a CD or song list of all the songs that remind you of your spouse and your relationship. Or if you’re artsy, you could create a painting or picture collage that they could take to their office at work.
- Buy your spouse a gift card to their favorite store and go with them there to help pick out what they want. This way you are also spending quality time with them doing something they love.
Love Language #4: Acts of Service
For some, it’s words; for others, it’s actions. Doing something out of the kindness of your heart speaks volumes for those whose language is acts of service. Some examples for you to do for your spouse:
- Ask your spouse at the beginning of the week what they would like you to do around the house by the end of the week and make a list so you don’t forget.
- If your spouse has had a tough or busy day, make dinner and clean up after dinner without being asked.
- If you and your spouse have designated daily chores, do theirs for a week, in addition to your own.
Love Language #5: Physical Touch
So this one is probably the most obvious. We all need physical touch but if this is your language, it’s super important that you get it to feel loved and appreciated by your spouse. Here are some ideas:
- Hug more often. First thing you do in the morning and last thing you do at night is hug your spouse. Always start the day off and end the day by letting them know you love them and they come first in your life.
- Hold hands more often. Do it when walking down the street, driving in the car, watching a show or while praying. It something that is so simple but can make you feel closer to your spouse.
- Make time for each other. It’s so easy to say that you’re tired and had a long day. Pick a night each week that you will reserve for your spouse and put some effort into the occasion—massage, bubble bath, mood music and candles? Whatever will let your spouse know that you went the extra mile for them!
I hope you find this as helpful as Patrick and I did. We would definitely recommend buying the book for you and your spouse to read together. You will be amazed at how your spouse responds once you start speaking their language!