Between the ups and downs of the pandemic, hectic work schedules and kiddos who are always changing and growing, it can be too easy to fall into bad routines in your relationship. Good rituals such as date night, hand holding, and little tokens of appreciations such as gifts and compliments can fall by the wayside while trying to navigate this new normal. The stress from juggling all of these demands can leave a couple feeling disconnected, stressed and too fatigued to give water to the soil of their relationship. Dr. Gary Chapman addresses a common theme that emerges between couples: we all speak different love languages. It is important for couples to recognize that everyone experiences love differently – and different personalities express, and experience love differently. This cheat sheet for couples on understanding the Five Love Languages can start a conversation on how you and your partner know you are loved and appreciated.
Receiving Gifts – A Token of Thoughtfulness
For many people, giving their significant other gifts is a gesture of thoughtfulness that ultimately says, “I saw this and thought of you.” Couples may think of this love language, and expensive jewelry or arrangements from 1800flowers.com spring to mind. Circumstances brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic have made couples rethink financial aspects of their life together, but that doesn’t mean that individuals who like to give and receive gifts as a love language have to give it up all together. Couples can set a budget for little tokens of appreciation to communicate the love language of giving and receiving gifts. Fortunately, there is an abundance of resources on the internet with lists of thoughtful gifts that can be found between 30-50 dollars.
Acts of Service – Actions Speak Louder than Words
To people who know they are loved through acts of service, it isn’t enough to say that you’re going to help them with something: only physical action can do that. Taking the initiative to help your spouse with daily chores or giving them a break by taking over responsibilities with your littles is particularly meaningful. Dr. Gary Chapman cautions couples to avoid a lack of follow-through on big and small tasks – in other words, when you tell your spouse that you will help them with something, make that the first priority! Couples should also avoid overcommitting themselves, while those who enjoy receiving acts of service must remind themselves to express gratitude to their spouse for their thoughtfulness.
Words of Affirmation – Appreciate the Un-Expected!
Individuals who know they are loved with words of affirmation especially enjoy unsolicited compliments, encouragement, and verbal appreciation from their partner. Affirmation can take the form of an unexpected card, note or a text message that is genuinely encouraging. Active listening is also helpful and can include eye contact, avoidance of giving advice to solve your partner’s concerns, or reflecting your partner’s feelings back to them once they are finished speaking. When receiving words of affirmation, it is crucial for the receiving spouse to avoid criticism as well as not acknowledging their partner’s efforts.
Quality Time – Quality vs. Quantity.
Expressing affection for your partner or receiving affection from your partner through quality time has been especially challenging during the COVID-19 pandemic. Many couples are struggling to cope with the challenges of quarantine such as a lack of meaningful time together – which has been replaced with an abundance of time together filled with distractions such as technology and our lovable littles. Being intentional about quality time includes removing these distractions such as phones and television – ultimately, giving your partner undivided attention. This communicates to your partner that, “I’m important to you.” Planning weekend getaways or taking small moments with your partner such as a walk or a coffee date can make a huge difference.
Physical Touch – “I Love You More Than Words!”
Intimacy between couples has also been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic due to the abundance of time couples are now spending together – particularly if couples are now working from home. Once the initial honeymoon phase of being together 24/7 has worn off, it can be easy for physical intimacy to shift to the back burner. For couples where physical touch is crucial for feeling loved, keeping physical intimacy a priority is key. Being intentional about physical touch can take the form of handholding, cuddling, kissing, or simply putting your arm around your partner in public and can hold a lot of meaning for your partner who values physical touch.
While each of these love languages can look different for every couple, it is important to keep this conversation going throughout your relationship. Regular check-ins with your partner by asking questions such as, “what can I do to make your day easier?” or “what should we do together this week?”, can be effective ways to stay in-sync with your partner. I encourage couples to also bear in mind that circumstances are constantly changing – and the same is true with our love languages! What would have been your love language in your 20’s might be drastically different to what makes you feel loved and appreciated today. The way you feel loved is important, just like the way your partner feels loved is important so. Make your love last beyond the COVID-19 pandemic and other periods of change by understanding the Five Love Languages!