50 Ways to Love Your Lover|
Back in the 70’s, Paul Simon suggested 50 ways to run away from the
complexities of relationship: “Just slip out the back, Jack. Make a
new plan, Stan. You don’t need to be coy, Roy….” There may be many
ways to leave your lover, but what’s the secret to a love that lasts?
One of my favorite books on relationships is Gary Chapman’s The 5 Love
Languages. It’s been around for more than 20 years and still speaks
to today’s couples about how to express love in a way that fulfills
each other’s emotional needs.
What’s Your Love Language?
At the heart of human existence is the need to love and be loved.
Marriage was divinely designed to meet this need in an intimate,
life-giving way. Chapman explains that we all have a preferred way to
experience love, which he calls our primary “love language,” and
outlines 5 different ways that we communicate and understand love:
Words of affirmation – Some people feel most loved through words of
affirmation, such as compliments, encouragement, appreciation, and
other verbal expressions of love. Ideas for words of affirmation
include write a love note, send a text, say what you admire about your
loved one, praise an accomplishment, express how proud you are of him
or her, and say I love you each day.
Acts of service – For others, thoughtful actions speak louder than
words, such as helping around the house or filling up the car. More
ideas for loving acts of service are cook a favorite meal, help with a
project, fix something that’s been broken, bring a glass of water
while your loved one is working in the yard, draw a bubble bath for
him or her after a busy day, refill the wine glass, turn on his or her
favorite music or TV program.
Gifts – Still others feel deeply loved when they receive a special
gift from their loved one; flowers, chocolate, a new ball cap or
shirt, movie tickets, a sports item, a book or magazine of interest,
an object from nature that represents your love, a favorite item from
the grocery store, or renting a movie he or she has been wanting to
see. Planning a special celebration for birthdays also communicates
Quality time – Others thrive on the connection of quality time
together, such as a date night, when they can share the other’s
heart-to-heart attention. Ideas for spending time together are watch
a sunset, go out to eat, linger over coffee, go to a ball game, stay
in a bed and breakfast for the weekend, attend church, go for a drive
through the country, and discuss a book or a topic of mutual interest.
Physical touch – Some people feel most loved through the language of
affectionate touch, such as a lingering hug, holding hands, massage,
and physical intimacy. Other ways to express love through touch are
snuggle while watching TV, sit next to each other, put your arm around
him or her, kiss, stand near each other, and dance.
While we may understand love in all five languages, most people lean
toward one or two preferred languages. To find out your primary
language, look at how you express love. More often than not, how you
give love is how you would like to receive it in return. For more
clues to your preferred language, consider what you feel is missing in
your relationship or what would make it better.
Learning a New Language
Our natural tendency is to express love in the way we want to receive
it, but the key to nurturing a relationship is for both individuals to
give love in a way that the other can receive. You may be
communicating love in a genuine way, but is it a language your loved
Rather than expecting each other to know what you need, the challenge
is to talk about your needs together and then support each other as
you learn a new language. Give each other ideas for what you would
enjoy and make a plan to try it. Even for long-time couples, it’s
easy to get caught up in the daily-ness of living and neglect to say I
love you, in whatever language your loved one speaks.
This Valentine’s, commit to becoming more fluent in each other’s
language and experience a greater sense of connectedness and renewed
joy in your love. To spice things up, you might explore a new love
language together, or take your relationship to the next level and
find 50 ways to love your lover.