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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.

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Published on April 7, 2021

6 Signs Of A Controlling Person To Be Aware Of

6 Signs Of A Controlling Person To Be Aware Of

Some of the most manipulative people are so good at what they do that their words and actions can convince you into thinking they truly care about what’s best for you when in reality, it’s quite the opposite. The most common signs of a controlling person are rarely obvious to outside observers. And for someone enmeshed in a controlling relationship or friendship, it can be incredibly challenging to stay away from this toxic person, even if you’re aware of their emotionally abusive tendencies.

While it’s ultimately up to you to decide whether to preserve or leave a lopsided, unfulfilling relationship, it’s nevertheless critical to understand the following six signs of controlling people so you can better advocate for yourself and mitigate the influence of their manipulative tendencies in your own life.

1. They Push Their Own Personal Agenda

Do you know someone who always tries to micromanage the words, behaviors, and attitudes of people around them? Does this person act like they have the right to know anything they want about you, including your location, what you’re doing in a given moment, who you’re talking to online, or any other private information about you? And when planning events and special occasions, does this person dominate conversations, steer plans in their own preferred directions, disparage others’ suggestions, and refuse to collaborate with anyone who might disagree with them?

If you answered “yes” to some of the above questions, then those are clear signs of a controlling person whom you absolutely need to be cautious around. Controlling people are reluctant to even consider alternative ideas, let alone enthusiastically work with people who have differing views. They prefer to be the captain of every ship—regardless of how much or how little an issue personally impacts them—and they have an arsenal of manipulative tactics to deploy if someone stands in the way of them achieving their own personal agendas.

In long-term relationships with controlling people, you may feel constantly pressured to meet their demands, follow their schedule, and focus on whatever they feel is most important. It’s not an exaggeration to say that these people act like the universe revolves around them, which can be exhausting to deal with for their family members, friends, and colleagues.

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2. They Make Everything Transactional

Controlling people aren’t always self-centered, but they’re not too empathetic either. Empathy for them tends to appear in the form of strategic concessions they use as a means to get what they want. They typically view interpersonal relationships as transactional opportunities to extract more value from people surrounding them, which can have a draining effect on those they interact with.

For example, one sign of a controlling person may be their insistence on “keeping score.” This can involve doing nice things for you with the ulterior motive of demanding something from you at a later date in exchange for what you thought was just an act of kindness or a friendly support.

Perhaps they shower you in praise (also known as “love-bombing”) or gifts then blow up at you if you don’t intuitively know they’re expecting something back from you. None of us are mind-readers, but controlling people behave as though everyone else should think and act like they want others to and those who fall out of line are punished for failing to meet their impossible expectations.

A controlling person may also threaten to withhold support if you don’t adhere to their demands, but they do so in such subtle ways that the guilt they impose blinds you from the unreasonable nature of their behaviors.

Some statements to be wary of include:

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  • “I did ___________ for you. What do you mean you can’t do ___________ for me?”
  • “Remember how I helped you with ___________? That took a lot of time and energy from me, but I guess you didn’t appreciate my help.”
  • “I always give you ___________. Don’t you care about my needs too?”
  • “You’re so selfish!” or “You don’t care about me at all!” (gaslighting if you respond with hesitation or politely decline their request for help for perfectly valid reasons, such as not having enough time or resources to assist them)

3. They Criticize Everything

One of the most common telltale signs of a controlling person is their capacity to criticize anything and everything, even small things that seemingly don’t matter. As with many toxic traits in relationships, these problems typically start out so small that you may not even notice. At first, you may even agree with their criticism or at least be able to understand their perspective when they bring up an issue.

However, the criticism tends to get more intense, more constant, and more perplexing for people who maintain relationships with controlling people. You’ll likely notice how they rarely seem to criticize something they do. It’s almost always other-oriented and these types of people are so manipulative that any rationale they offer can seem plausibly legitimate.

Some warning signs of a controlling person who’s overly critical to the point of abusiveness include:

  • Criticizing things about you that you have little to no control over (e.g., appearance, disability, family)
  • Criticizing your personal choices and interests, such as educational pursuits, career, clothing, favorite music, time spent on your hobbies, etc.
  • Punishing you for expressing vulnerability by invalidating thoughts and feelings you share with them
  • Attacking you whenever you express an opinion counter to theirs

4. They Balk When Someone Criticizes Them

We all know the adage, “what goes around, comes around.” But this statement doesn’t apply as much to toxic, controlling people. They’d much prefer to dish out criticism without ever having to take it in return.

For instance, if your friend constantly talks about your appearance with little regard for your emotions but flips out if you make just a single comment about their appearance, there’s a possibility that they could have some hidden controlling tendencies left unchecked. Remember, these people aren’t just controlling in their behaviors towards others. They’re also actively trying to stay in complete control over every aspect of their lives, which includes how others view them.

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This seemingly insatiable desire for control can prompt them to lash out against even the smallest bits of criticism, leaving people around them too weary or scared to speak up again in the future. While it’s possible they may suffer from something called rejection sensitivity dysphoria, this does not excuse them from the consequences of their words and actions. They should seek professional help to better manage their reactions to criticism.

5. They Socially Isolate You

Not all controlling people do this, but for manipulative narcissists, socially isolating victims is a go-to strategy for maintaining control because it’s effective at preventing people from truly understanding how toxic their partner, family member, or friend is treating them. Think of it this way—if you don’t talk to many other people in your life, there’s less of a risk that you’ll damage their reputation by revealing their abusive tendencies.

Socially isolating others also gives the person more control over you and your life as it becomes more difficult to break away from them if you don’t have other healthier channels of communication and interpersonal support to turn to.

This process doesn’t happen overnight, nor is it something you can readily recognize as abusive. At first, it may seem reasonable, such as asking you to stop engaging so often with family members with whom both of you disagree on major social or political issues. As the social isolation progresses, they may suggest cutting people out of your life—especially if they don’t like that person, regardless of how you personally feel—or even conjure up high-stakes problems like “it’s me or them” under the guise of saving you from people in your life whom they don’t like for whatever reason.

In a controlling person’s life narrative, they’re always the protagonist who’s incapable of any wrongdoing. The blame is always redirected at someone else, whether that’s you or other people in your life. The more they isolate you from other supportive people in your life, the more susceptible you’ll be to falsely believing that they’re right and you “don’t need” your other friends and family when you have someone as perfect as this person.

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6. They’re Emotionally Abusive

It’s hard enough to be in control of your own emotions but when someone else is constantly belittling you and your interests or leveraging guilt and shame to manipulate you into saying or doing what they want, this can make it even more challenging to stay in control of your own life and emotional well-being.

Emotional abuse is another sign of a controlling person that is often overlooked in relationships. After all, human personalities vary widely in terms of passivity, and it’s not uncommon for one person in a relationship to be significantly more passive than the other. This becomes an issue when the controlling partner or friend exudes signs of emotional abuse, which can start subtly and become much more pronounced over time.

Concerning signs of emotionally abusive language or behavior to watch out for include:

  • Dismissing your needs and/or belittling your interests in counterproductive ways
  • Privately or publicly shaming or humiliating you
  • Making you feel as though you can never live up to their expectations or do anything right (according to their own vague, subjective standards)
  • Gaslighting you into thinking they said or did something that never actually happened (making you question your own reality)

Final Thoughts

It’s sometimes hard to see the negative things about someone with whom we have a relationship. We may sometimes unconsciously overlook the signs of a controlling person, especially if that person is someone we have known for a long time or are close to us. However, cutting them off your life is the best thing you can do for yourself. Just watch out for these six signs of a controlling person and take immediate action when you spot them.

More Tips on How To Deal With a Controlling Person

Featured photo credit: Külli Kittus via unsplash.com

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