Have you heard of the 5 Love Languages? I always thought there were just two types of love — romantic love that you feel for your partner, and general platonic love that you feel for family and close friends. According to relationship counselor Gary Chapman, there are actually five ways we give and/or receive love: words of affirmation, acts of service, receiving gifts, quality time, and physical touch.
I read the book the 5 Love Languages a few years ago and found the whole concept pretty fascinating — how we show our love to others is most often based on how we prefer to receive love. Chapman notes that we need to pay attention to how our partner prefers to receive love, and work to show our love in those ways. I could definitely see that there were a couple places in mine and KC’s relationship where we weren’t connecting in the ways we showed love for each other, so we took the test to find out how our love languages ranked.
Not surprisingly, quality time was high on both our lists (#1 for me, tied for second for KC). We have always enjoyed spending time together and make it a priority to carve out time for just the two of us. The similarities, however, kind of ended there. Physical touch was #1 on KC’s list, and giving/receiving gifts was tied for second. I, on the other hand, preferred words of affirmation (second on my list) followed closely by acts of service. Seeing the results for each of us made a lot of things fall into place. I tend to busy myself with acts of service around the house — doing the dishes, taking out the trash, doing KC’s laundry — thinking that KC will feel endless gratitude for my efforts. KC appreciates these things, but acts of service is dead last on his list, so the fact that he doesn’t express tons of appreciation for these menial tasks makes a lot more sense now.
And on KC’s side, he’s incredibly thoughtful when it comes to giving gifts. He gives the kinds of gifts that girls brag about in movies (he once bought me the most perfect black dress — it’s been 5 years and I still wear it, y’know, when I’m not pregnant). And while I definitely love receiving gifts, it’s last on my list of love languages. And I’ll be the first to admit that I’m no champion gift-giver. While I do consider myself to be a pretty thoughtful person, the idea of picking up random trinkets or spending a ton of money on a blow-your-mind present just isn’t something that really appeals to me on a regular basis.
Realizing these differences has been really helpful in our relationship. KC knows that while I love a thoughtful gift that he picked out, I really love it when he takes the initiative to clean up around the house. (In fact, for most holidays I just ask him to get me card with a handwritten message in it.) And I realize that my cleaning sprees, while appreciated, just don’t have the same effect on KC that they would have on me, were our roles reversed. (And I have been making an extra-effort to be a little more thoughtful in my gift-giving. While I totally nailed it for his birthday last year, it’s a work in progress.)