Sometimes it might feel like you and your partner aren’t on the same page: You’re bickering more than usual, not communicating effectively, and can’t seem to agree on anything. But maybe that’s just because you’re not speaking the same language. No, not English.
Katerina Fager,a Chicago-based marriage therapist, sees these issues all the time, and the five “love languages,” (originally introduced in Gary Chapman’s best-selling 2015 book), are one thing she looks to when analyzing relationship woes. The “languages” are really more like ways of communicating and are based on the different methods humans use to speak and understand love. They are: words of affirmation, quality time, receiving gifts, acts of service, and physical touch.
“Maybe your partner is expressing his love by acts of service, such as doing little things for you here and there, but you don’t recognize it and don’t acknowledge it. But this is your partner’s love language and your partner expects the same expressions from you.” —Katerina Fager, marriage therapist
“As you grow up, you learn to receive and give love. This becomes your primary love language. You move on, get married, or are in a relationship, and all of the sudden you feel that the message you’re trying to express to your partner doesn’t go through,” she wrote on the site Thrive Global. “The reason behind that is both of you have a different love language. You speak in one language and your partner in another and you don’t understand each other.”
Because of a differences in each love language, it’s easy for your way of communicating to be misunderstood, and that can cause relationship problems. And that’s exactly why it’s so important to learn about how you express your love.
“Maybe you like to be physically touched and need to hear words of affirmation such as ‘I love you,’ ‘You are beautiful,’ ‘You look great,’ and so on, but you don’t get that from your partner,” Fager said. “Maybe your partner is expressing his love by acts of service, such as doing little things for you here and there, but you don’t recognize it and don’t acknowledge it. But this is your partner’s love language and your partner expects the same expressions from you.”
If you’re in a place where speaking actual words to each other without conflict is tough (which makes things like partner workouts or full-on lovefests pretty much impossible), Fager says paying attention to this other language can break the impasse, leading you to an “aha moment” where you both feel a lot more loved and secure.