Admittedly when Love Languages first came out, I was skeptical and it took me years before I read it. Though once I did, it clarified why I was happier in some relationships than others. My primary love language is ‘Acts of Service’ and my secondary is ‘Quality Time’. Put the two together and I’m on cloud 9. If you haven’t learned yours yet, it’s worth a read. As Gary Chapman wisely said “Unhappiness in marriage often has a simple root cause, we speak different love languages”.
ACTS OF SERVICE
I will say being a woman who prefers ‘Acts of Service’ in this society is actually awesome because most men are conditioned to show love this way. For me, I don’t need to hear I love you, maybe if I’m nervous or feeling down, but otherwise, I need to feel loved through actions. Words to me are empty and meaningless if not backed by action.
What does that look like?
- They hold the door open for you
- They walk on the side closest to the street to protect you
- They see the trash is full and before you even know it, they’re taking it out
- You’re moving and they bring you boxes and help you pack without ever being asked
- You come home from work and they’ve fixed the sprinkler system with no prompting
- When it snows, you come outside to find your car windows scraped off
- They notice you’re getting sea sick and handcraft a barf bag out of a poncho for you
- If you’re long distance dating, they come to you or bring you to them
- You tell them you’re sick and without asking they come over to bring you soup
- You’ve had a long day and come home to them making dinner
These seem simple, but for a woman with ‘Acts of Service’ as her primary love language, each of these little gestures sends her into love heaven bringing her closer and closer to you. In other words, she feels loved by receiving your actions.
This love language talks about being together – you could be doing something or nothing at all, but it’s making time to be together. Luckily as an Introvert my desire for togetherness is not unreasonable, though for those who this is their love language it’s being together that makes them feel loved. The more time you’re together, the more they feel loved.
What does that look like?
- Connecting with them in a meaningful way every day (in person/phone)
- Eating dinner together as a family (with no cell phones or distractions)
- Being with them and just present in the moment (watching sunsets, listening to music)
- Intertwining each other’s activities / hobbies to do them as a unit
- Spending the holidays together
- Being there for big moments – promotions, birthdays, moving day, child birth, etc.
- Planning special trips together, just the two of you
- Carving out and sticking to date nights
- Aligning your sleep schedules to wake up together, go to bed together
- Making consistent time to connect physically
The rule of thumb with this one is just be there, together. If you’re with an Introvert, try making some of these just being present in a moment together. So if you’re at the beach, try just listening to the waves, watching the sun glisten on the water, together without filling it with unrelated chatter. Embracing the moment together.
THE EUPHORIC MIX
So if your lady is both ‘Acts of Service’ and ‘Quality Time’, how can you really rock her world? Combining the two can leave her almost speechless thinking you may be just the greatest person she’s ever laid eyes on.
What does that look like?
- Find tasks that take time that she needs to do – moving is a big one, or even taking stuff to good will, or fixing something – and do them together, as a team
- Find something she’s always wanted to do – Disneyland, or Grand Canyon, or Pompeii – and make it happen (for the two of you, don’t send her solo if she’s a Quality Time gal!)
In other words, do something that shows her you love her that requires being together. For example, making dinner for her is awesome as it’s ‘Acts of Service’, but making dinner together, now that’s the euphoric mix of ‘Quality Time’ meets ‘Acts of Service’. And guys, when I say make dinner together it’s not sit there and watch her, it’s split up the duties – e.g. you cook the meat, she cooks the veggies, you cook together.
THE CATASTROPHE OF MISALIGNMENT
Ok so that title is intense, but to be fair, when the love languages are out of line, it can be destructive to a relationship. You may love the person at their very core, everything about them may be better than you ever imagined another human could be, but if you can’t communicate love effectively it can make the other feel unloved, unwanted, and miserable.
If you’ve read some of my blogs, you’ll know I’m a huge fan of Myer’s Briggs. As an INTJ my soul-mate partner is the ENTJ. We’re both logical and rational, spend a lot of time thinking and forming correlations, though as an Introvert I’m naturally a follower and the ENTJ is naturally my leader. It creates the perfect combination. However, Myer’s Briggs is not the entire equation when it comes to love.
What do I mean by that? Well let’s take the example of my knight in shining armor the ENTJ. Let’s say the ENTJ shows love through ‘Words of Affirmation’ and ‘Affection’. I can’t even pretend that words mean something to me, so no matter how many times he says ‘I love you’ or ‘You’re pretty’ it means nothing, like empty phrases. He can hold me all he wants, and it feels super awesome to be held, but what I’m gaining from the moment is ‘Quality Time’. Though it’s not enough ‘Quality Time’ as affection is momentary and fleeing.
So what am I trying to say? No matter how much you love someone, no matter how much you love their mind, their soul, their body, everything about them, if you can’t find a way to feel loved by them it’s destructive. You’re starved for love. They may not even fully realize, but you’re dying on the inside, craving ‘Acts of Service’ and ‘Quality Time’ (or whatever your languages are). Maybe you’re self-aware and you can share it, maybe not. Though even if you share it, they may not be willing or able to adapt.
We’ve all had those relationships where the love languages didn’t align. No matter how much we loved who the person was, the misalignment impacted our ability to trust them, to feel loved by them, and the most destructive for an ‘Acts of Service’ lady – to feel protected by them. One might argue if it’s right it’s supposed to be effortless, your soul mate who you are the most connected to in the world is supposed to just come out of the womb speaking your love language. But what if they don’t?
Well there’s two choices right? Stay or go. If you go, then you risk regretting the decision forever. Though if you stay and things don’t improve, you may be miserable. If you really love them and want to stay, try explaining your love language (there’s countless articles on the internet with examples for each) and see if they are open to learning, open to adapting. If they aren’t open or aren’t able then you’ve got some really hard decisions that no one else can make but you. Forever is a long time.
I recognize this post is one sided for illustrative purposes, though both partners have love languages and just as it’s important for your partner to take the time to not only learn but to master how to show you love, the same onus is on you. If you want a happy relationship, a satisfying relationship filled with endless amounts of love, you both need to make the effort to adapt to each other’s languages. We all have the ones that are natural for us (likely the same ones we need) and the ones that are the least natural for us (likely the ones we don’t need at all). If we love our partners and we want them to feel loved, sometimes we need to stretch, which takes time, but it’s well worth the reward.