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What Language Do You Speak?


How do you know your partner loves you? How does she show it? Does she write you a little note and slip it into your jeans so you can find it later? Does she text you a sweet message during the say that she misses you? How does he let you know he cherishes you and really loves you? Does he buy your favorite coffee instead of his? Does he suggest thoughtful dates even though you’ve been together forever?

Or, does he never say I love you and you are really craving to hear those words?
Does she not appreciate all the kind ways you try to improve her life? Like working on house projects?

Often times couples have different Love Languages. With this issue, it is easy to misunderstand each other and feel like we are stuck with someone who doesn’t love us. Dr. Gary Chapman has defined five typical love languages. Basically, these are the different ways we approach relationships and let a partner know that we love them. It can take time to understand what your partner’s language is and how to change your approach. The Five Languages are below. Maybe one really resonates with you right away or your partner or perhaps there is some combination of languages with an emphasis on one or two most of the time.

Explore and see what you can do today to improve your relationship.

Words of Affirmation

This is where I Love You comes in. Some people really need to hear the words. Whether it’s reassurance or simple kindness, they feel loved when their partner expresses their love through speaking. Could you ask your spouse today, what could I say when you’re feeling down? How can I best support you? Or, is there something I said to you early in our relationship that you really liked?

Acts of Service

This could be as simple as mowing the lawn or putting oil in a car or packing a lunch. Often these acts are considered nice, but overlooked as a way that some people really do show their love. Kind gestures are the way to some people’s hearts. Is there something your partner does for you that is a small gesture and kind? Could you thank her for it? Have you overlooked it? Even making coffee in the morning and sharing it counts.

Receiving Gifts

Some people really enjoy receiving gifts. It could be a small gesture like a little notebook, wrapped in pretty paper with a bow. It doesn’t have to be an expensive gift. For others, it certainly does need to be an expensive gift, a trinket won’t do. Whatever the case, have you noticed your partner’s expression when giving a gift? I once had a client say her boyfriend hid a gift in the glove compartment. He asked her to open it up and out popped a beautifully wrapped box with a necklace and matching earrings. She looks back on that moment as one in which she felt cherished and truly loved by him.

Quality Time

Do you set aside special time to connect with your mate? Maybe you’re a step-parent and it seems like on school nights there is no time. Could you ask your husband for fifteen minutes to check in with you one on one? Even fifteen minutes a day of connection with a spouse make a positive impact. Why not try?

Physical Touch

As human beings, we are born needing physical touch. We crave it as babies and cannot live without it. We want to be close both emotionally and physically. Does your partner want more physical touch? It doesn’t always need to be sexual. Simply holding hands, making time to hug each other and show affection can keep a spark alive for couples.

To learn more about attachment styles and therapy in Portland, please visit the couples counseling page.


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