Love on Purpose is a blog series that takes concepts from the book, The Five Love Languages. Each one is served in digestible pieces of wisdom. Find out what your Love Language is so you know what you need. Explore what your partner’s love language is. Bring the love languages into all of your meaningful relationships.
Love on Purpose: Overview (1 of 7)
Gary Chapman’s, Five Love Languages is my must-read book. It is my must-have conversation with every new friend, old friend, and random stranger at the airport.
I am blessed with a platform to teach this love message to students just starting out into adulthood. I have a professional curriculum that I am required to teach. This is a bonus lecture that I am compelled to share.
When you know how to love someone on purpose and intentionally the way that THEY understand it, relationships are revolutionized; Marriages are saved. My passion for the message in this book became a communication crusade: Love on purpose.
We all have love tanks that need to be filled. When the love tanks are on empty for too long, the ugliness starts to emerge. Spouses think, “he doesn’t love me anymore.” The logical conclusion to an empty love tank leads to a dissolved relationship. Learning the 5 Love Languages will help you translate how your partner is requesting love. You will feel empowered to request what YOU need to feel loved. The 5 Love Languages are: Words of Affirmation, Acts of Service, Quality Time, Gifts, and Physical Touch.
Three clues to help you find out what your love language is (or your partner’s):
- What do you complain about? (“We never go out anymore” –“You never help me around the house.” – “We never hold hands.”)
- What do you give away? When your partner is hurting or sick, look at how you give comfort.
- When your feelings get hurt, what do you pull back on?
Being fluent in your partner’s love language will help you understand that the complaint is really a request to be loved. I am saddened that marriages end and families are broken because of a translation issue. The 5 Love Languages impacted how I ask for love. Understanding the message changed the dynamics of every relationship. My friend Erinn was right that this book was going to change my life. By teaching the 5 Love Languages to new friends, old friends, and random strangers, we all learned how to love on purpose.
Reflect & Share: Watch the 3 minute video and take the Assessment.
a. What is your primary and secondary love language?
b. What three specific things can your partner do to love you on purpose and intentionally using your love language?
Love on Purpose: Quality Time (2 of 7)
Anger and ugliness were starting to seep out into every interaction. I realized my Love Tank was on empty.
My Primary Love Language is Quality Time, more specifically, the dialect of Quality Conversation. I love a deep talk about meaningful topics with people I care about. When I ask a friend, “how are you?” I want the real answer. I want a pulse on what is happening underneath the gloss and pleasantries of the answer, “I’m fine.”
My empty Love Tank self-intervention was on a public bus in a foreign country. I was months into my Peace Corps service when I realized I had conversational needs that weren’t getting met. The superficial chit-chat and canned questions from the locals left me running on fumes. I became best friends with two progressive teenagers. We started a conversation class for advanced English-speaking students. Love tank full.
Another dialect is Quality Activities. This dialect is for people who like to “do things” together. My husband’s secondary love language is Quality Activities. There have been many times when he requested love and I rejected him. It sounded like, “do you want to walk the dog with me?” I pondered how sweaty I would get. Calculated how much exercise I already did earlier. My answer, “no thanks.” The look on his face was heart-breaking. It wasn’t about walking the dog. The point was to all be together doing something. I missed the request. We have negotiated how to request love so we both understand what is really being asked. I always say yes now that my husband asks, “do you want to go on a “Love Walk” with me?” Love tank full.
How I knew my love language is Quality Time:
1. I don’t want gifts for my birthday. I want phone-dates or lunches. I want to share an experience together and then talk about it.
2. I don’t want to do big group activities. I want coffee dates or power walks where we can spend time catching up.
3. When planning to meet up with a friend, I don’t want to be in competition with your kid / husband /dog /iphone…and lose. Undivided attention is a must.
An empty love tank can lead to anger and ugliness seeping out into every interaction. Monitoring your love tank is essential when traveling on the Journey to a Fulfilled Life.
Reflect & Share: What is your ideal “quality time” with a loved one or friend?
Resources: Find out your Love Language here.
Love on Purpose: Physical Touch (3 of 7)
My husband and I love physical touch (his primary love language, my secondary). When he is cranky, I scratch his head. When he is tired, I scratch his head. When he starts getting road rage in the car during traffic, I scratch his head. When we cuddle to watch a movie, I scratch his head.
I’m reminded of a clip from America’s Funniest Videos about a girl who scratches a monkey’s head. When she stops, the monkey grabs her hand to return it to his head for more scratching. My husband uses the same tactic.
Physical Touch is a Love Language that usually shows up socially. Sometimes people mistake “physical touch” to mean sex. Sex is a biological need. Physical touch people want to cuddle before and after sex. Simple gestures that are appreciated: holding hands, walking arm-in-arm, massages or cuddling together. Sleeping next to each other is great just as long as some part of the body is touching, even the toes.
Clues that your Love Language may be Physical Touch:
1. You are a social-toucher (high-fives, hugs, etc). You frequently touch while talking. When you get drunk, you hug everyone.
2. When your significant other is around, you need to be sitting together or touching.
3. When you are stressed, being touched is calming.
Long Talks & Listening: My husband is a better listener when I scratch his head. We made a deal that as long as I keep scratching, he will listen to everything I have to say until I’m done. If he wants me to go longer, all he has to ask is, “what do you think is the bigger lesson in this situation?” Guaranteed 10 extra minutes of head scratching.
Hug & Hold: A quick kiss is not enough. The purpose of the 10-second hug is for the couple to hold each other until the muscles relax. A proper greeting or good-bye can be transformed with the power of a squeeze.
Reflect & Share: Are you (or your partner) Physical Touch: What physical affection do you love the best?
Resources: Find out your Love Language: assessment and 3 min video
Love on Purpose: Acts of Service (4 of 7)
I love coming home to a tidy place. I love opening the refrigerator door to find the grocery shopping done. If a vacuumed floor and washed dishes are a turn on to you, your Love Language might be Acts of Service. People who are Acts of Service are focused on “if you love me, SHOW me.” They want you to take something off their plate, to unburden their heavy load. They may not ask you to help, because that would be like begging for love. The mentality is often: “If I’m struggling, you should WANT to offer your help.”
When my primary and secondary love tanks are full (Quality Time & Physical Touch), I start noticing that I want Love Language #3: Acts of Service. There are certain tasks around our home that I don’t like. If my husband does them, that means he loves me. For example, when my husband and I walk the dog, I never have to pick up the poop. He takes the grocery bags out of my hands so I don’t have to lift anything heavy. When we go out for date-nights, he drives so I don’t get stressed. He opens the door for me…all of them. I can do all these things myself AND I don’t need to when my husband is there.
In the movie The Break Up (Aniston & Vaughn), there is a scene where the couple starts fighting after Aniston’s character had spent all day working, cooking for the dinner party, and cleaning the house. She wants to go to bed having the dishes done and wants his help. Vaughn’s character finally cooperates after being nagged. She refuses his help because “I want you to WANT to do the dishes.” His response, “why would I WANT to do the dishes?”
The motto for Acts of Service people is: “It would be nice if you did things I asked. It would be nicer if you did things without me having to ask you.” Agreeing to help and then not doing it, is a rejection of love. It’s not about the dishes.
Clues your Love Language might be Acts of Service:
- People have accused you of being a “princess” because you want to be waited on hand and foot.
- You think that a “good wife” must keep a tidy home and prepare a hot meal when the husband gets home.
- You are turned on when you come home and the floors are vacuumed, dishes are washed, and dinner is ready.
- You complain that you don’t get enough help around the house.
- When your partner is stressed, you try to “do” things to help.
- You test your husband to see if he remembers to take out the trash. You are in a bad mood if he forgets.
Essentially, a healthy relationship consists of all five love languages. The purpose of finding out what your primary and secondary love languages are is to communicate your personal hierarchy of need. Schedules get busy and priorities get dropped. Knowing your partner’s love language will help you focus your attention on the most impactful way of communicating love. Telling your partner exactly what acts of service communicates love to you will lead to a higher probability those things will get done.
What speaks love to me is that when my husband is around, my life is easier. Acts of Service Love Tank: full.
Reflect & Share: What is one thing your partner could do for you that would be an act of love? What three domestic tasks would you love for your partner to do because you hate doing them?
Resources: Find our your Love Language here.
Love on Purpose: Words of Affirmation (5 of 7)
The Romantics have a song, “What I Like About You.” Love Language #4 is Words of Affirmation: Hearing someone say what they like about me is music to the ears. If your face lights up when someone gives you a compliment or your chest puffs out when you get acknowledged for something you did, your Love Language might be Words of Affirmation.
For people who are Words of Affirmation, their motto is: “I need to HEAR it.” The spectrum is wide for Words of Affirmation, from the insecure to overachiever to know-it-all types. I have seen women bait friends into a compliment by saying, “I’m so ugly.” The friend’s response is, “No you’re not. You’re pretty!” –“Really? You think so.” I have seen classic over-achievers go for super-extra credit because they want to be THE BEST in the class. I have seen arguments at social gatherings because someone insists, no, demands, that they are right. They will even bust out Google to look it up and prove their rightness to everyone in the room. I know of artists/musicians/authors that are so sensitive to words that they will agonize over a bad review and read it so often they can recite it.
Complaints are a cry for love in a very screechy voice. When I listen to a wife complain, “you never say how pretty I am anymore,” it is a clue she might be words of affirmation. When I hear a husband complain, “all I want is a little appreciation around here,” it is a clue that he might be Words of Affirmation.
Lovers of words can also be pierced to their core by a thoughtless comment. When a squabble turns into a character assassination of criticism, that is the warning sign feelings got hurt. The worst thing to do is be seduced into a diatribe of meanness….which will be recited back verbatim to you at a future date.
My husband’s third love language is Words of Affirmation. I found a secret to inspire him to do Acts of Service for me (my love language #3)…I thank him. For every dog poop scoop I don’t have to do, I say thank you. Every time he opens my door, I say thank you. Every time we go on date-nights, I thank him for spending time with me. I give him sincere and thoughtful compliments about his character when I see it show up in everyday life. I don’t expect or demand, I praise. I get my husband to dump the trash by thanking him in ADVANCE because I trust that he will do it when he is ready.
I don’t have a high need for Words of Affirmation. My husband needs it more than I do. This means I will become fluent in this love language. One relationship ritual that we do is Month-versaries (quality time). I gave up Valentine’s day to have monthly celebrations of our relationship instead. I romance him with a monthly greeting card that shows up in unexpected places in our home as a surprise. I write about things we did over the month or what I appreciate most about him at that moment. Over our six-year relationship, that is a lot of greeting cards! My husband is nostalgic and loves being able to go back to read sweet notes again and again.
One area that I’m aware of is snarky or sarcastic comments that leak out in a complaint. I remind my husband that whining about something doesn’t help me solve the problem that is bothering him. I have to be careful not to be snarky back. I ask that he make a request for what it is that he would like from me. A gentle request elicits a softer response.
Clues your Love Language might be Words of Affirmation:
- When you fight, you say mean things to hurt the other person’s feelings.
- Criticism is like a knife to the heart.
- You are insecure and need constant reassurance. You solicit compliments.
- You are a classic overachiever. You “wow!” people into a natural compliment. You were an A++ student.
- You write long letters or leave long voice mails. You find the perfect greeting cards.
- You are generous with your compliments.
- You are a perfectionist because you want to avoid criticism.
- You save every text, email, or letter that says something nice, so you can savor it again and again.
If one of my friend’s is Words of Affirmation, I make a special effort to write something on Facebook (or in a card) for their birthday of why I am so thankful for them in my life and their friendship. The Romantics had a good theme song that reminds us to share with our loved ones, “what I like about you…”
Reflect & Share: What is the best compliment you got that moved you?
Challenge: If you think a loved one’s love language is Words of Affirmation, tell them “What I appreciate about you….” and share something authentic you really value about them. Watch how they respond.
Resources: Find out your Love Language here.
Love on Purpose: Gifts (6 of 7)
If you ever got a generic gift for your birthday or holiday and felt offended because it was so impersonal, your Love Language might be Receiving Gifts.
Love Language #5 is Receiving Gifts. People whose love language is Gifts are usually amazing at gift-giving. They will challenge their creativity to make something that is specifically tailored to you. The motto for Gifts people is: “I want to HAVE it.” Whenever they look at the gift, they feel like “you really get me.” They may not provide a wish-list for what they want for the holidays because “if you know me, you should know what I want.”
The gift doesn’t have to be expensive. It could be a single favorite flower or Starbucks drink. The gift represents love and that the giver pays attention. It is even better when it is tailored or personalized. This shows that it is special and thought went in to creating it.
Clues your Love Language might be Receiving Gifts:
- You hunt for the perfect gift to give people on their birthday.
- You wrap gifts in creative and precise ways.
- You are offended to receive a generic gifts for the holidays that everyone got.
- People may have accused you of being materialistic because you want a loved one to “buy me something special.”
This love language is more difficult for me to express because I am not into “stuff.” I am the kind of person who systematically purges. I do not enjoy shopping. Gift-giving is my blind-spot as my bottom ranked Love Language. Some of my friends’ love language is receiving gifts. I have to start thinking early about what present to give for special occasions because I want my gift to say, “I know you.”
Reflect & Share: What gift have you received that communicates “you really get me”? What personalized gifts have you given that were a hit?
Resources: Find out your Love Language here.
Love on Purpose: Mastery Level Love-Fest (7 of 7)
The “Love on Purpose” series is intended to help you put all the pieces together. This blog is to inspire you to take love to the mastery level in ALL your meaningful relationships.
The Five Love Languages is a powerful way to say “I love you” in a way the recipient understands. In a healthy relationship, doing all five is optimal. Knowing your primary and secondary love language helps focus your partner’s energy on the most important ones that have higher value.
Step 1: Know your primary and secondary Love Language. You can also read the book to have an in-depth understanding of the specific dialects for each of the Five Love Languages (Quality Time, Physical Touch, Acts of Service, Words of Affirmation, and Gifts).
Step 2: Test the primary and secondary. What you ‘think’ is effective may be different than the actual response. If a wife thinks cooking dinner is the best way to express love to her Acts of Service husband, she may feel frustrated when he doesn’t respond how she expected. For the husband, dinner isn’t as important as a tidy home (e.g. the kids’ toys are put away and there is order restored so he can relax). When both partners know the basic Love Languages, you can begin to practice, test, and give feedback on what works (and what doesn’t). As a recipient, you can ‘kindly’ ask for what you NEED so your partner knows exactly what makes you feel loved.
The guessing game gets exhausting and leads to mutual frustration. It takes a lot of energy to guess, take action, get it wrong, and try again. It is also the responsibility of each partner to know what it is they need and to provide guidance. Loving someone on purpose and intentionally maximizes the benefits and reduces disappointments. The bond gets stronger when each partner knows exactly what the other needs and then gives it.
Step 3: Figure out what your family members need. When you get good at listening to complaints as “screechy cries for love,” you can start cracking the code of what makes other people in your life feel loved. You can start paying attention to what your child or teen needs to feel loved instead of expressing love exactly the same to all the kids. What works for one may be a failure to the other. When I started to apply the Love Languages to my (adult) family, what they did and how they responded made sense. I released myself from feeling pent-up anger when they weren’t doing MY love language. I started to see they were expressing love in their language and I wasn’t seeing it. I also was able to kindly request what I needed to feel loved.
For example, I like one-on-one quality conversation (Quality Time). Doing a group speaker-phone/Skype call every Sunday with my family wasn’t making feel loved. I wanted to nurture my relationship with my Dad. I did not want to have to compete with others for attention and then lose. I expressed this need and we came up with a good plan. My dad is alone in the car and open for discussions during his 30 minute commute home. I love our chats about deep topics or issues that are weighing on my mind. I thank him for his advice and wisdom (Words of Affirmation). Love-Fest.
Mastery Level: Feeding into the other person’s love language, that feeds into yours…this is a Love-Fest.
My husband does the icky-chores that I do NOT want to do (Acts of Service). I thank him for saving me from the unpleasant experience of having to do it myself (Words of Affirmation). Love-Fest.
I crochet a baby blanket for my pregnant friend who loves personalized presents (Gifts). When she calls to say thank you, we make a coffee date to catch up (Quality Time). Love-Fest.
You can take the online quiz as a first step to know your Love Language. You can read the book for a deeper understanding of the different dialects of each language. What is going to work best is testing and tailoring your efforts so you can Love on Purpose!
Reflect & Share: What can you do to take your knowledge of the 5 Love Languages to a Mastery Level? What would be a Love-Fest in your relationship where your love language feeds your partner’s (and visa versa)?
Resources: Need help tailoring the Five Love Languages to your relationship, contact me. I serve by helping people develop their communication skills so they can have happy, healthy relationships.
Online Quiz: here (for you or your child).
Watch the video