the 5 love languages | week 3

This month I have been sharing about the 5 love languages -- something that has been so beneficial in my own marriage and hopefully something that will bless yours as well. 
In Week 1, I gave a basic overview of the 5 love languages (available here) and last week I discussed 3 of the 5 love languages in greater depth (available here). 
This week I will be sharing more about the love languages of acts of service and physical touch, as well as how to discover your primary love language (if you haven't already!). 

Doing things you know your spouse would like you to do

Examples of Acts of Service from the book include cooking a meal, setting a table, washing dishes, vacuuming, cleaning, changing a baby's diaper, filling up the gas tank, paying the bills, mowing the lawn, walking the dog, giving a foot rub, setting up appointments, etc. 

Each of the above activities require thought, planning, time, effort and energy; if done with a positive spirit, they are indeed expressions of love.

If you think that acts of service is your primary love language, remember the importance of making requests of your spouse and not demands. Instead of demanding your spouse mow the lawn or clean the garage, give guidance by making a request and say, "It would mean a lot to me if you would clean the garage this weekend," or "It would really make me feel loved if you kept the lawn mowed in the summer." You cannot create the will to love in your spouse; each of us must decide daily to love and by showing your spouse love in the way he/she feels it most, it is likely that he/she will do the same for you.

Also keep in mind that learning the love language of Acts of Service may require you to reexamine your stereotypes of the roles of husbands and wives. Most men did not grow up seeing their fathers vacuum the house or cook dinner, but if that is what means a lot to you (as a wife), it is okay to request that your husband does that for you. It may take time for you both to shift your perspective of gender roles, but if Acts of Service is your primary love language, it will be well worth it! 
In my life, I tend to do most of the so-called "domestic" activities, but once a week Dustin cleans the floors and vacuums for me. If I am busy at home with Olivia, Dustin stops at the grocery store after work to pick up some things I'll need for meals that week. If I have somewhere to go early the next morning, he fills up my gas tank at night so that I don't have to make a stop when I am on my way somewhere with V. I love to cook dinner for him, pack his lunch at night before bed and rub his feet after he has had a long day. These are all acts of service and they are meaningful to both of us. 

If you think Acts of Service may be your primary love language or your spouse's, here are a few ideas to discover & encourage it:
1) Make a list of all the requests your spouse has made of you over the past two weeks; select one this week and do it as an expression of love before your spouse has to ask
2) Ask your spouse to make a list of 10 things he or she would like you to do during the next month and then ask your spouse to prioritize them 1-10, 1 being the most important; use the list to plan your strategy of love.
3) Perform a major act of service (like organizing the home office) and leave a note that reads, "To _____ (your spouse's name) with love."
4) Ask your spouse to tell you the daily acts of service that would really speak to him or her, the "little things" that mean a lot (for Dustin, it is having his lunch packed each night)

Expressing love to your spouse through touch

We have long known that physical touch is a way of communicating emotional love. Numerous research studies in the area of child development have reached the conclusion that Babies who are held, hugged and kissed from birth develop a healthier emotional life that those who are left long periods of time without physical contact. Physical touch is a powerful vehicle for communicating marital love; whether by holding hands, kissing, embracing, or physical intimacy, for the spouse whose love language is physical touch, this is what creates a deep feeling of being loved.

In his book, Chapman discusses that love touches may be explicit and demand your full attention, like a back rub, or they may be implicit and require only a moment, such as putting your hand on his shoulder as you pour a cup of coffee. Explicit love touches obviously take more time, not only in actual touching but in developing your understanding of how to communicate love to your spouse in that way. Implicit love touches require little time but much thought, especially if physical touch is not your primary love language or if you grew up in a family that was not touch-oriented. Sitting close to each other as you watch your favorite movie requires no additional time but may communicate your love loudly. 

My husband Dustin's primary love language is physical touch. If he has had a long day at work, something as simple as a hug resets his entire day. If we are in an argument and he is upset, all it takes is me holding his hand or sitting by him to calm him down and change the course of things. If Dustin is feeling down or stressed, a back rub from me communicates that I love him and think highly of him, and that I want to give him my time and energy in the form of physical touch. Keep in mind that just because your husband enjoys sex does not mean that physical touch is his primary love language, but if it is his primary love language, sex will obviously be of even more importance in keeping a healthy emotional climate in your marriage. Chapman explains that for the male, sexual desire is physically based. Many men make the mistake of assuming that physical touch is their primary love language because they desire sex so intensely. This may be true but the whole picture needs to be considered. If a man does not enjoy touch in other ways (such as holding hands or receiving a massage), it is unlikely that Physical Touch is his primary love language. 


Discovering the primary love language of your spouse is essential if you are to keep their emotional love tank full, but first you need to know your own love language. Having heard the five love languages (words of affirmation, quality time, receiving gifts, acts of service & physical touch), some individuals will know instantaneously what their own primary love language is as well as the primary love language of their spouse. For others, it will not be that easy. 

Begin by asking yourself this question: What makes you feel most loved by your spouse? What do you desire above all else? If the answer to those questions does not leap to your mind immediately, try looking at the other "negative" side: What does your spouse do or say or fail to do or fail to say that hurts you deeply? If, for example, your deepest pain is the critical judgmental words of your spouse, perhaps your primary love language is "words of affirmation." If your primary love language is used negatively by your spouse -- that is, he or she does the opposite -- it will hurt more deeply than it would hurt someone else because not only is he/she neglecting to speak your primary love language, he/she is actually using that language to hurt you (even if unintentionally).

Another approach to discovering your primary love language is to look back over your marriage and ask, "What have I most often requested of my spouse?" Whatever you have most requested is probably in keeping with your primary love language. For a long time, I requested that Dustin write cards or letters to me. I came to discover that was because "words of affirmation" is one of my primary love languages. 

Finally, another way to discover your primary love language is to examine what you do or say to express love to your spouse. Chances are what you are doing for her is what you wish she would do for you. Remember how in Week 1 I shared that for a long time I was writing cards to Dustin and hoping for a big reaction from him that I never really received? Words of Affirmation wasn't his primary love language so cards didn't fill his emotional love tank the way it did for me. But because it was mine, I naturally showed him love in that way without even realizing it.  

In summary, here are the questions you can ask yourself to more easily discover your primary love language:
1. What does your spouse do or fail to do that hurts you most deeply? The opposite of what hurts you most is probably your love language. 

2. What have you most often requested of your spouse? That thing you have asked for most is likely the thing that would make you feel most loved.

3. In what way do you regularly express love to your spouse? Your method of expressing love may be an indication of what would also make you feel loved.

Next week is the final week in this month's series and I will be sharing more about discovering your spouse's primary love language and then how to apply everything I've shared to make it work to benefit and bless your marriage. 

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