Thirty years ago, Gary Chapman, a relationship counselor and Christian pastor, published a book that claimed to reveal the secret to lasting love.,
According to The Five Love Languages, There are – wait for it – five “languages” through which people communicate tenderness, affection, and commitment to their partner.
We all naturally gravitate toward one of these, he says, and if you can make it work for yourself as well as your partner, you’re likely to find yourself yelling at each other when you wash up. is less.
The languages are: acts of service, words of affirmation, physical touch, quality time, and gift giving. Despite – or perhaps because of – its Christian, heterosexual stance (I’ve never read so many anecdotes about driving to church), it has sold over 20 million copies and is now a somewhat unlikely hit on TikTok – Possibly because young people’s willingness to categorize hasn’t really changed since the focus on those quizzes in Just Seventeen.
While many readers may feel squeamish about anything with Self Help, the book is credited by at least one person I spoke with for saving their marriage.
After all, as Chapman puts it, this is “the real world of marriage, where hair is always at the sink and little white spots cover the mirror”.
I am not married. at least not yet. But if my baby and my habit of hanging up towels is anything to go by, I’m in a long-term relationship. And it is one that bears the scars and stretch marks of long-running disagreements about parenthood, a pandemic, financial insecurity and whether or not to have another child.
My partner and I love each other, but we don’t always show it very well. Today, for example, I woke up at 4.45 a.m. and found him doing wordley in the dark. I had gone out to run. We didn’t say a word to each other. Can I bring us closer again by learning my partner’s love language? Well, it won’t hurt.
words of confirmation
According to Chapman’s slightly unfortunate phrase, each of us has a “love tank.” When we are loved, that tank is full. As soon as I read the book, it became clear that in my case it was words of confirmation that I need. Tell me I’m cool enough, tell me I’m cute, and I’ll wash my underwear for the rest of my life.
“It’s about how you were shown love growing up,” says relationship therapist Simone Bose. If you had a parent or caregiver who used words to encourage you, you may want to look for a partner for this.
“But it could go in the opposite direction,” cautions Bose. “Maybe you really wanted quality time spent with that person. That’s why you crave something different in your partner.”
Fearless, I’ll give it a try. As my partner walks through the door, I tell him it’s really cute to see him. Later, when he is working, I tell him that he is good at his job. Right before bedtime, I tell her that I love her. Judging by his response, I would have honored Baker Street’s saxophone solo as well.
“Do words of affirmation make you feel loved?” I ask later.
“I don’t think so,” he replies. “I’m not sure I believe what people say. If I told my mother that I wanted to be a Premier League footballer, she would have told me I could do it.
So, he is out of the confirmation list.
When I ask my dad what he loves most, he looks at his bike lock for a second and replies: “Body touch.” This is the man who used to let me draw my entire back with felt-tip pens, lost in the reverence of physical sensation. The first time he met my newborn son, he stroked his tender fontanel with tears in his eyes. He is a man who feels love in his body. Maybe my partner will appreciate something of the same. As Chapman argues, perhaps unsurprisingly: “Body touch can make or break a relationship.”
“My partner and I have been in touch with each other,” says No More Page 3 campaigner Lucy-Anne Holmes, whose 2019 book, Don’t Hold My Head Down, reflects on the year she tried to find sexual gratification. We could have a night of candles and massages and eye contact. Or the bar could be much lower — and that could include a laptop,” she says. “We both express our love in touch, and that’s a big part of our relationship.”
While I was writing this article, my partner got covid, and so we didn’t hug for three days. During that time I felt a sense of belonging.
Once the transition had passed, I asked her if she would experience a similar feeling of disorganization. He replied: “I don’t think so.”
When I asked again, a little more directly, my partner said that sex made him feel loved. But it’s clearly not their primary love language.
I’m terrible at gifts, but my partner loves to give them. He posts hand-drawn photos of his mother and buys book tokens to thank people for taking care of the children. On our first date (at a travelogue in Bethnal Green) he brought a copy of Out on the Wire, a comic about a radio production. so thoughtful.
“It may seem unnatural to some,” Bose says, I mean. “So you need to talk about why it makes them uncomfortable. What does it bring?”
For me, it’s the pressure of the situation: I find it awkward to receive gifts, and choosing them even more stressful. I also hate that they are intrinsically linked to any celebration.
In The Five Love Languages, Chapman writes that the “love-marriage process” in every culture involves gift-giving. But those gifts don’t have to be expensive or even buy. As Chapman puts it: “You might be thinking of giving someone a gift… it doesn’t matter if it costs money.”
“Because you’re bad at gifts, I think it would be an even greater act of love if you gave me gifts,” my partner tells me. So, the next day, I spend £12.99 on a mug with “Silence Please” printed on the side. Then I buy a box of condoms and a card. Physical touch and gift giving all at once. I think I’ve caught it.
There is something that Holmes describes as “Grand Design Syndrome,” in which someone builds a home for their partner but, as a result, doesn’t spend a single moment with their family for more than a year. I’m very grand design syndrome. As a mother, 99% of my love for my son is expressed in acts of service: cooking him food, wiping his nose, taking him on a bicycle to a museum full of insects. With my partner, I follow a similar pattern: cooking dinner and arranging our social lives.
The fact that they both happily eat pesto and pasta every night and always ask me to sit with them doesn’t matter. make dinner for me Is love. As Chapman says, acts of service require “thought, planning, time, effort, and energy. If done with a positive spirit, they are truly an expression of love.”
This can be a little tricky when it comes to romantic relationships because “acts of service can make you feel like your partner’s parent,” Bose says: “But perhaps what they really want is a sexual one. partner or ally.”
In the spirit of the exercise, I offer to help her with a collaborative issue at work. He says thank you, but rose petals do not fall from the sky.
Finally, my boyfriend takes an online quiz to find out his love language: “Obviously, I’m into quality time, which is impossible when you’re having kids.”
It seems difficult. As Bose puts it: “Quality time can be quite challenging, especially for people with kids, busy jobs or – as in many cases – both. But nothing beats being together for 10 minutes, not seeing each other. is better than. “
And so the next night, the first truly warm evening of the year, I announce that we are going to have pizza in the backyard of our house. Walking along the small stream that borders our housing estate, my son talks animatedly about the ancient Egyptians; He is clearly loving it. We eat and eat, surrounded by tall grass and winged crowds.
“I love you both,” I say. And I mean.