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Learn how to translate his love language

Elise Stephens blogs about relationships, life, and inspiration at www.elisestephens.com. She received the Eugene Van Buren Prize for Fiction from the University of Washington in 2007. Her novel Moonlight and Oranges was a quarter-final...

Love him in ways
he understands

Learn the five love languages and watch the love signals and receptions grow stronger between you and your partner. Take a quick test, discuss your results and get ready to start speaking a new language of love that he can hear.

Couple talking

Many of us are familiar with the 5 Love Languages by Gary Chapman, a book that sheds light on relationships through deeper understanding of expressions of love. Anyone who’s been in a long-term relationship knows that men express and receive love differently than women do. Otherwise, we would be two identical people. The truth is that we’re different! We love differently and we receive love differently, too.

This means I can’t expect my husband to feel overwhelmingly adored just because I gave him a handwritten love note. Words of Affirmation, where affection and encouragement are expressed, is my love language but not his. He also can’t expect my knees to melt just because he gives me a big hug and a kiss. Don’t get me wrong -- I like his kisses, but physical touch is his love language, not mine.

So what are the five love languages?

  • Words of Affirmation
  • Quality Time
  • Receiving Gifts
  • Acts of Service
  • Physical Touch

Implement your results

Finding your love language is like finding your personality profile on one of those dozens of online tests. It’s only really helpful if you implement your results into real action.

Find your language

If you don’t know your or your beloved’s love language, you can both take the assessment and learn the definitions here for free. Take the time to assess yourself and honestly rank what you prefer. There is no "right" or "wrong" answer. Encourage him to do the same.

Discuss the results together

Get on the same page and be prepared for a surprise. You might be tempted to think his language is different from what it actually is, and you might even be surprised by yours -- I thought that I appreciated Quality Time more than just about anything, but I realized that, in my hectic life, sometimes it means more to have my husband unload the dishwasher.

Make a plan

Write a list. If you don’t, you might default back to your old patterns. I recently wrote down over a dozen things that I could do to love my husband in his language. His primary languages are Physical Touch and Quality Time. If I want my message to ring loud and clear, I will need to keep within these. Back rubs and head scratches go far with him. So does sex (an obvious one). I have to adapt, because I don’t feel particularly cherished by touch, not in comparison to other things. He knows I’m giving him Quality Time when I make sure we have an unrushed date night. As he learns about me, he’s discovered I love handwritten notes of encouragement, the short phone call from him in the middle of the workday or a note tucked into my lunch. This is because he knows that Words of Affirmation, both written and verbal, is my primary love language.

Explore together

Plan what you can do to love him and when you will do it. Do one or two things a week from your list in his language and watch how he starts to feel more loved. I dare you. You’ll love it.

What's your love language?

Share in the comments below!

More love advice

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Build a love nest egg
7 Ways to get to know your spouse better

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