These five categories are how we all give and receive love, which can greatly affect relationships. When we understand the love language of another person, we can more effectively communicate our respect and affection.
A year into joining a church, my husband and I were sitting in a small couple’s group when the leader asked what our love languages were. Perplexed, we had no idea. The leader went on to explain the book, The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love That Lasts by Gary Chapman.
The 5 Love Languages became a New York Times #1 bestseller in the early 1990s and has remained popular for its timeless wisdom and practical help.
This book explores the ways people give and receive love. In the book, Chapman suggests that everyone receives love in at least one of five ways: Quality time, physical touch, words of affirmation, acts of service, and gifts.
The way we love our spouse is how we naturally express it but if our loved one does not receive love in the same way we do, he or she can feel unloved.
These five categories are how we all give and receive love, which can greatly affect relationships. When we understand the love language of another person, we can more effectively communicate our respect and affection to our spouse.
What Are the 5 Love Languages?
1. Words of affirmation. Some people are more attuned than others to hear both positive and negative words from those whose opinions they cherish.
While negative, critical words can tear them down, positive, encouraging words make them flourish. According to Chapman, people with this love language need to hear their partner say, “I love you.”
Even better is including the reasons behind the love through leaving them a voice message or a written note or talking to them directly with sincere words of kindness and affirmation.
2. Quality time. This language, says Chapman, is all about giving your partner your undivided attention. That means dropping everything to give them your full attention, in other words, no chores, no TV, no cell phone, etc.
Other ways to spend time together could include, going for a walk, preparing dinner together and talking while preparing and eating it, sharing plans for the future, making love, and/or creating something together.
Take time every day to do this to fill up their love tank.
3. Acts of service. When acts of service is a person’s primary language, he or she interprets help as a sign of someone’s love.
This language includes anything you do to ease the burden of responsibility, like picking kids up from school, vacuuming, running errands, going grocery shopping, or filling up the car with gas.
4. Receiving gifts. The person who loves this language thrives on the love, thoughtfulness, and effort behind the gift. In short, actions speak louder than words.
These people thrive on gift-giving, and when they are given a gift, it fills their love tank. A single rosebud, a candle, or a note can go a long way toward filling the love tank of someone who understands love as giving gifts.
The act of giving a gift tells your spouse you cared enough to think about him or her in advance and go out of your way to get something to make your partner smile
5. Physical touch. People who speak this love language thrive on any type of physical touch: Handholding, hugs, and snuggling. It is not about sex.
Those actions spell love to those with this primary language. Physical touch is the most direct way to communicate love. It is crucial for the health and well-being of every human being.
Are Love Languages Biblical?
What makes the love languages unique is that they are one of the few methods of extending love that is not self-serving because the giver isn’t looking for anything in return.
It simply means they’ve studied their partner and they want them to feel loved, but if you’re looking for the term love languages in the Bible, you’re not going to find it.
But the concepts are there, and Jesus did an incredible job demonstrating how we are to use them.
1. Acts of service: Jesus’ first love language. “Do you understand what I have done to you? You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, because I am. So if I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I’ve given you an example, that you should do just as I have done to you. . . If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them” (John 13:12-15,17).
2. Quality time. Jesus lived with his disciples for three years when he began his ministry. They traveled together, ate together, worshiped together. Do you get the picture?
They were together for daily life. Not only did he spend time with the 12 disciples, but he also often spent even more quality time with Peter, James, and John (Matthew 17:1-9).
The quality time was even broken down to one on one quality time with Peter. A look at Mark 9:30-31 shows that Jesus carefully guarded his time.
3. Words of affirmation. Jesus often spoke words of affirmation over individuals. We first see this when he spoke about his cousin, John the Baptist when he said that John was “more than a prophet,” and “among those born of women there has arisen no one greater.” These words are powerful because they are indirect words of affirmation.
Other examples of this love language happen in Matthew 12:49 when Jesus outstretches his hand toward his disciples and tells the crowd they are his family or in the book of Mark when Jesus tells a dinner party that the questionable woman “has done a beautiful thing” when she anointed his feet with her tears and expensive perfume.
He also said, “Wherever the gospel is proclaimed in the whole world, what she has done will be told in memory of her” (Mark 14:6-9).
4. Giving gifts. Perhaps this one was one of Jesus’ favorites. We see throughout the New Testament Jesus loved to give good things to his people.
- Jesus gave the 4,000 the gift of food to eat in Matthew 15.
- Jesus gave the 5,000 the gift of bread and fish in Luke 9.
- Jesus gives sight to a blind man in John 9.
- Jesus gave the gift of healing and a new name to the woman who bled for years in Mark 5.
- He gave children to women who suffered from infertility like Hannah, Sarah, and even Samson’s mother.
This list could go on and on. Jesus was a giver of gifts but the biggest gift he gave us was our salvation through his death on the cross. This was his ultimate love language and gift.
5. Physical touch. Jesus touched often and he made it a point, even though he never needed to touch anyone, to heal them or offer comfort as we see in Luke 7 when the centurion asked for healing for one of his servants.
We see in Mark 1:31, Jesus took Simon’s mother-in-law by the hand “and lifted her up and the fever left her.”
When the children came to Jesus, we see that “he took them in his arms and blessed them, laying hands on them.” (Mark 10:15-16).
What Does This Mean?
Jesus used all five love languages and undoubtedly, he was a master at matching them with people appropriately.
He is the creator of all things and he teaches us how to love well by example throughout the Old and New Testaments.
Most of us pick up Chapman’s book and think, “If I get this right for my spouse, maybe he will love me how I want to be loved.” But a word of caution, learning someone’s love language is sacrificial like Christ.
He never asked for anything in return, even as he poured out his life. He gave freely with no strings attached. We are to follow his example and love well.
** By Heather Riggleman at Christianity Today / Website: http://www.heatherriggleman.com/
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