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Last Updated on February 11, 2020

How the 5 Love Languages Help Strengthen Your Relationship

How the 5 Love Languages Help Strengthen Your Relationship

You may have been hearing “The 5 Love Languages” buzz around the internet for the last couple of years. But really, what are the love languages.

Everyone gives and receives love in different ways. So, the goal of this article is to help couples gain a deeper understanding of what are the love languages and their differences and boost communication.

The love language test applies for couples or for singles who want to understand what are the love languages they need from a relationship. The test also applies to men who want to succeed in life, for children and teens, and even for those in military service who face unique relationship challenges.

So what are the 5 love languages, and what’s the point in finding out more about them?

What Are the 5 Love Languages?

1. Words of Affirmation

You need to hear your partner express their love for you verbally. This can include romantic affections, expressions of appreciation, and simple manners.

2. Acts of Service

Having your partner help you out around the house or do something to make your day a little easier (like making you breakfast or shoveling the snowy walkway) means more to you than a bouquet of flowers ever could.

3. Receiving Gifts

Don’t mistake receiving gifts with being spoiled! This only means that you feel the most loved when your spouse surprises you with a gift that lets you know they were thinking about you.

4. Quality Time

You need to spend time with your spouse doing something that doesn’t involve watching television or playing on your phone. You receive love when you get undivided attention from your spouse.

5. Physical Touch

You receive love when you are hugging, kissing, caressing, holding hands, and being sexually intimate with your partner. It connects and refreshes you in a way that nothing else can.

Why We Need the 5 Love Languages

Imagine this:

A husband showers his wife with gifts and quality time, but she continues to tell him that she doesn’t feel loved.

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Why does she feel this way? The husband comes to discover that his wife’s love language is “acts of service.” She is feeling burnt out with work, raising children, and tending to the house.

The husband had great intentions with his gifts, but what his wife really needed was some help around the house.

Similarly, a wife who’s love language is “physical touch” may regularly be affectionate and intimate with her husband several times a week. So, when he tells her he is feeling unappreciated, she is beyond surprised.

What else can she possibly do to make him feel special? After taking the what are the love languages quiz, she realizes that his love language is “words of affirmation.” So, while sex is a great way to connect as a couple, what he needs from her is a verbal assurance of love or admiration.

This is how not knowing what your spouse’s love language is can affect your relationship.

Can the Love Languages Improve Your Relationship?

We all like to think we know our partner better than anyone else, but sometimes we only see what we want to see. This is where learning the 5 Love Languages comes in so handy.

Learning what are the love languages, how they give, and prefer to receive love enhances our relationship with our partner. Also, we develop a deeper understanding of what their needs really are – not what we assume they are.

Here are just some of the ways that learning your spouse’s love language can strengthen your relationship.

How to Strengthen Your Relationship with the Love Languages

1. Communicate with Your Partner

If you’ve ever gotten relationship advice from any long-married friends or family, you have probably heard the age-old adage, good communication is the key!

Communication is the key to conflict resolution, a happy marriage and a great foundation for a relationship.

A study published by the Journal of  Marriage and Family reports that couples who communicate are more satisfied with their relationship.[1] The research also suggests that couples are more positive and exhibit less negative behavior with one another, regardless of gender.

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Tips for great communication includes:

  • Making a habit of daily conversations
  • Not interrupting your partner when they are speaking
  • Actively listening
  • Removing distractions (cell phones, television blaring in the background, etc.) from your conversations
  • Being calm and respectful when voicing opinions
  • Looking at things from your partner’s perspective
  • Compromising
  • Not assuming you know everything about your spouse
  • Talking often about things both big and small
  • Not only does better communication do away with unnecessary arguments and deepen marital friendship, but it can also do wonders for your sex life.

Studies show that communicating about your intimate needs boosts overall relationship sexual satisfaction, quality, and results in increased orgasm frequency in females.

When you learn what are the love languages of your partner, you understand how to communicate with them on a much deeper level than you ever knew possible. After all, now you’re ‘speaking their language.’

2. Learn How to Empathize

What is empathy? Simply put, you can put yourself in your spouse’s shoes. When they’re stressed, you can sympathize. And when they’re happy, you’re ecstatic!

On the other hand, whenever the people around you are sad, you feel distressed. Do you see the pattern here?

Empathy is understanding someone else’s feelings. Having empathy is a great quality in a relationship, but not everyone is born with the magnetic ability to sympathize with others.

Learning what the love languages of your partner are will help you develop a deeper understanding of how they think, feel, and respond to things.

For example, you may not think anything of being off the grid with your spouse during the day (no calls, texts, or video chats).

Let’s say, you are off the grid for the day while you’re at work or out with your friends. And then, you didn’t call your wife, text her, or video chat. When you got home, she’s upset.

But why?

She knows you love her and you’re not a guy who likes to be on his phone while he’s out with other people. So, what’s the big deal? Why is she overreacting over nothing?

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After taking the Love Language test, you find out that your wife responds highest to words of affirmation and quality time. Then her actions and how she feels will start to make sense.

She’s not mad because she is trying to be the nasty wife who’s wrecking your guy’s night. She’s upset because hearing from you, even if only for a couple of minutes, is what makes her feel loved.

By learning what the love languages of your partner are, you can better understand and empathize with how they feel and why they act or react to certain things the way they do.

3. Express Affection in a Way That Matters

One study examined 295 college students, 195 females and 100 males, to see how physical affection affected a relationship.[2]

The physical affection mentioned included holding hands, kissing, caressing, giving or receiving massages, and cuddling.

The research, published by The American Journal of Family Therapy, found that:[3]

“(Romantic physical affection) is found to be highly correlated with relationship and partner satisfaction.”

Interestingly, the study also posits that the more physical affection a couple has, the better their conflict resolution skills were.

If you spend plenty of quality time with your husband and he still seems distant, it may be because his love language is physical touch.

Consider this: he isn’t vying for sex all the time just because it feels great, he’s doing it because it’s how he connects to you.

Once you learn your spouse’s love language, you can express your feelings in the ways that will matter the most to them. And, you will argue less.

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4. Connect on a Deeper Level

We spend so much of our time in relationships wondering what the other person is thinking, and this often leads to arguments and misunderstandings. The inability to talk to your spouse about both the important and the silly things in life leads to relationship devastation.

Don’t believe me? In a survey of 886 divorcing individuals, a whopping 55% cited being unable to communicate as the downfall of their relationship.[4]

When couples learn how each partner expresses themselves, it improves communication. In turn, this gives each person the courage to speak up about relationship-issues before they spiral into resentment. In turn, it leads to an improved friendship between you and your partner.

Romance is great, but it isn’t everything in a relationship. There’s something to be said for having a deep friendship with the one you love. When you learn your spouse’s love language, you start to connect on a deeper level – romantically and otherwise.

This is good news for you because research published in the Journal of Happiness Studies found that couples who view one another as their best friend double their marital happiness.[5]

As researchers Shawn Grover and John F. Helliwell explain,[6]

“We explore the role of friendship within marriage, finding that in our United Kingdom data the well-being benefits of marriage are much greater for those who also regard their spouse as their best friend.”

Final Thoughts

Now that you know your partner’s love language, you will be able to express your affection in a powerful new way.

In return, your spouse now knows exactly what you need to feel loved and appreciated in your relationship.

With these news lines of communication open, you and your spouse can conquer any problem and strengthen your relationship against whatever comes your way.[7]

What do you have to lose? Sit down with your spouse and take the 5 Love Languages test and find out the language of your hearts.

Learning what are the love languages your spouse or partner have will help you communicate better, not take things so personally, to better empathize, master conflict resolution, improve your romantic friendship, and become more observant in your relationship.

More Tips to Help Improve Relationships

Featured photo credit: Vince Fleming via unsplash.com

Reference

More by this author

Sylvia Smith

Sylvia is a big believer in living consciously and encourages couples to adopt its principles in their relationships.

How to Stop Nagging And Communicate With Your Partner Better 6 Reasons Why You Should Not Give Up on Love 12 Relationship Deal Breakers That You Shouldn’t Tolerate How To Resolve Relationship Conflicts without Hurting Each Other How Being Vulnerable Leads to a Healthy and Fulfilling Relationship

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Last Updated on August 12, 2020

When Should You Trust Your Gut and How?

When Should You Trust Your Gut and How?

Learning how to trust your gut, otherwise known as your intuition, can keep you safe. Your gut can guide you and help you build your confidence and resilience. My own gut instinct has saved me on more than one occasion. It has also guided me into making sound career choices and other exciting, big decisions. I’m also aware of the times when I’ve gone against my instincts and really regretted it later, wondering why I didn’t tune in to that valuable internal voice that we all have within us.

In this article, we’re going to explore why and how you should listen to your gut, as well as some concrete tips on how to make sure you’re making the most out of your gut instincts.

How to Listen to Your Gut

The key when making any big decision is to always take a minute to listen well to yourself and your inner compass. If you hear your actual voice saying yes while inside you’re silently screaming no, my advice is to ask for some time to think, or simply take a breath and pause before the yes or no escapes your mouth.

Use that moment to breathe, check in with yourself, and give the answer that feels congruent with who you are and what you want, not the one that always involves following the herd. Trusting your gut means having the courage to not simply go with the majority. It can be about holding your own. Here’s how to hone that skill for yourself and reap the rewards.

1. Tune Into Your Body

Your body gives you clues when you’re faced with a big decision. There are many visible and obvious symptoms that we feel in uncomfortable situations. Our body’s reaction is often something that we might try to hide, for example, blushing, being lost for words, or shaking. There are things we might do to try and hide that physical reaction, whether it’s wearing makeup, having a glass of wine or coffee to perk us up a bit, or learning to control our nerves.

However, paying attention to your body when you experience these feelings of anxiety can teach you so much and help you to make sound choices. Some people will experience an actual “gut” feeling of stomach ache or indigestion in an uncomfortable situation.

Ask yourself what’s really going on here, and explore what is happening behind your body’s response to the situation. What can your reaction or instinct teach you? Understanding that can be a clue and can help you either learn something about yourself, the situation, or other people. The answers are often within us.

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Sometimes we’ll get this “something’s not right here” feeling and cannot quite put our finger on it or explain it. That can still be incredibly useful and really guide us away from danger, even if we don’t know the reason.

In his book, Blink, Malcolm Gladwell also argues this, making the point that sometimes our subconscious is better at processing the answer we need, and that we don’t necessarily need to take time to collect hours and hours of information to come to a reliable conclusion[1].

2. Ensure Your Head Is Clear Before Making a Decision

Energy, sleep, and good nutrition are so vital to nourishing our minds, as well as our bodies. There are times when your instinct could lead you astray, and one of these is when you are hungry, “hangry” (angry because you’re hungry!), tired, or anxious. If this is the case–and it may sound obvious–do consider sleeping or eating on it before making an important choice.

There is, in fact, a connection between our gut and our brain[2], which is where terms like “butterflies in the stomach” and “gut-wrenching” originate from. Stress and emotions can cause physical feelings, and ignoring them might do more harm than good.

3. Don’t Be Afraid to Say What You Think and Feel

Listening to your gut and really paying attention to it might involve standing up and being counted, calling something out, or taking a stand. As someone who works for myself, I’ve become used to following the less-travelled road, and that’s given me the chance to strike out on my own in other ways, too.

As they tell you in the planes, “put your own oxygen mask on first,” and part of that self-reliance is knowing what you really want and like and what is safe and good for you, including what resonates with your personal and business values. Making good decisions with this in mind means making choices that do not go against your own beliefs, even when it may mean taking a stand. This is part of trusting yourself and trusting your instincts.

This does not always mean taking the “safe” option, although keeping ourselves safe is an important part of the process. This is how we learn and grow, by following our own inner compass. When you do take risks, go outside of your comfort zone, or choose the less popular option, spending some time researching the facts can stand us in good stead, too.

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4. Do Your Research If Something Feels Off

As well as listening to our instincts, we can also back up the evidence for our chosen course of action before taking the leap. I had a gut feeling about the need for a learning and development network when I noticed my clients getting stuck with the same problems. I set up and now run such a network, but instead of simply going for it, without evidence, I followed up on my instinct with research.

Having confidence in your gut instinct through these kinds of tests can help to minimize your risks, as well as spur you on. It will encourage you to trust your gut again in the future and trust that you are an expert with foresight and experience. You are!

5. Challenge Your Assumptions

When you look at the assumptions your making, this could be the clue to mistakes you are making.

In order to check that our instincts are wise, we need to ask ourselves what blanks we might be filling in, either consciously or unconsciously. This is true not just when it comes to our own decision-making. It’s also true when we are listening to someone explain a problem or situation, and we’re about to jump in and give some advice. If we can learn to be aware of our own assumptions, we can become better listeners and better decision makers, too.

A useful tool to become more aware of your assumptions before making a final decision is simply to ask yourself, “What assumptions am I making about this situation or person?”

6. Educate Yourself on Unconscious Bias

Unconscious bias is something we all have, and it can trip us up big time!

There is a vital caveat to bear in mind when wondering about whether you can trust your gut and the feelings your body gives you, and that’s having an awareness of your unconscious bias. Understanding your own bias–which is hard to do because it literally does happen in our subconscious–can help you to make stronger, better, decisions instead of re-confirming your view of the world over and over again.

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Bias exists, and it’s part of the human condition. All of us have it, and it colors our decisions and can impact on our performance without us realizing.

Unconscious bias happens at a subconscious level in our brains. Our subconscious brain processes information so much faster than our conscious brain. Quick decisions we make in our subconscious are based on both our societal conditioning and how our families raised us.

Our brains process hundreds of thousands of pieces of information daily. We unconsciously categorize and format that information into patterns that feel familiar to us. Aspects such as gender, disability, class, sexuality, body shape and size, ethnicity, and what someone does for a job can all quickly influence decisions we make about people and the relationships we choose to form. Our unconscious bias can be very subtle and go unnoticed..

We naturally tend to gravitate towards people similar to ourselves, favoring people who we see as belonging to the same “group” as us. Being able to make a quick decision about whether someone is part of your group and distinguish friend from foe was what helped early humans to survive. Conversely, we don’t automatically favor people who we don’t immediately relate to or easily connect with.

The downside of that human instinct to seek out similar people is the potential for prejudice, which seems to be hard-wired into human cognition, no matter how open-minded we believe ourselves to be. And these stereotypes we create can be wrong. If we only spend our time with and employ people similar to ourselves, it can create prejudices, as well as stifle fresh thinking and innovation.

We may feel more natural or comfortable working with other people who share our own background and/or opinions than collaborating with people who don’t look, talk, or think like us. However, diversity is not just morally right; having a mix of different people and perspectives that can be genuinely heard is also a valuable way to counter groupthink. Diversity stretches us to think more critically and creatively.

7. Trust Yourself

It is possible to learn how to truly trust yourself[3]. Like any talent or skill, practicing trusting your gut is the best way to get really good at it. When people talk about having great intuition or being good decision-makers, it’s because they’ve worked at honing those skills, made mistakes, learned from them, and tried again.

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Looking back at decisions you’ve made, what you did, what the outcome was, and what you’ve learned can help you become a stronger decision maker and develop solid self-trust and resilience. Making a mistake does not mean you are not great at decision-making; it’s a chance to grow and learn, and the only mistake is to ignore the lesson in that experience.

If you are in the habit of asking others for their input, then the trick here is to choose your inner circle wisely. Having a sounding board of people who have your best interests at heart is a valuable asset, and, combined with your own excellent instincts, can make you a champion decision maker.

The Bottom Line

The above tips are all actionable and easy to start immediately. It’s simply about switching your thinking around, slowing down, and taking great care of this amazing machine that is your body and mind!

Learning how to trust your gut is one of the most fundamental ways to make decisions that will help you lead the life you want and need. Tune into what your body is telling you and start making good decisions today.

More Tips on How to Trust Your Gut

Featured photo credit: Acy Varlan via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Science of People: Learn to Trust Your Gut Instincts: The Science Behind Thin-slicing
[2] Harvard Health Publishing: The gut-brain connection
[3] Psych Central: 3 Ways to Develop Self-Trust

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