American marriage and family life expert Dr. Gary Chapman wrote that there were five of them in his book The Five Love Languages, which sold more than five million copies all over the world according to his official websitewww.garychapman.org.
To foster a happy and harmonious relationship with each other, couples must identify their own love language, then let each other know what it is. Each party is now informed and can give what his or her partner needs.
It is not about giving “what you want to receive,” said marriage and family counselor Maribel Sison-Dionisio, “but that’s what we usually do. We give what we want to receive. We have to give what our partner needs. So that means we have to know what the style of our partner [is], and our partner has to tell us, too. Otherwise, you’ll be guessing and the person wouldn’t feel loved and cared for. Or it might take years before you discover, ‘Ah ito pala ‘yung gusto niya, gusto pala niya touch, ito pala gusto niya affirmation o ayaw niya ‘yung mga acts of service.”
The president of the Love Institute in Quezon City, Dionisio co-authored books like I’ve been dating… now what?,Thinking of Marriage, and Teen Crush, the last two with her husband, Allan. The two have been married for 28 years and have three children together.
“These five [love languages] are all important in a relationship, but a person will have a favourite, [which] changes over time. There’s nothing wrong or right about it. It’s a preference,” she added in an interview with InterAksyon. “And you want to update this every six months to check if that’s still the love language of your spouse so that you continually stay in love and feel loved.”
Women, in particular, expect the men to read their minds, said Dionisio, wrinkling her nose in a wordless “Hay, naku.” While in the first year of courtship men usually know what the women want, “that antenna is good only for one year, after that, [it’s] expired,” said the counselor.
Though females find it unromantic to give their partners a list or tell their partners what they want because they feel that if someone loves them, that person should know them, Dionisio insists that to communicate with their male partner, it is better if “we send them a memo or a text.”
“Communication is very important. Even in boyfriend-girlfriend relationships, it’s very important to practice that,” said the frequent guest at Relasyon on Radyo Singko 92.3 News FM.
Here are the five love languages, as explained by Dionisio.
1. Words of affirmation
To communicate with a partner who has this style, one must “say positive things, nice things, send notes, [and avoid] criticism, ‘cause some people are easily hurt. You can give criticism, but in a positive way,” said Dionisio.
“Part of words of affirmation is knowing how to listen and how to talk.” For this, she prescribes a formula for listening and speaking.
As a listener, one must learn to paraphrase, for example, “This is what you’re saying: it sounds like you are angry because I came late.” It is a better option compared to immediately reacting in anger to one’s partner after a confrontation.
As a speaker, one must “give feedback in a positive way.” Instead of saying, “Grabe ka, hindi ka tumawag! You’re so inconsiderate,” one can say, “You know, I’m really so sad and upset and even angry because you didn’t call. And I’ve been waiting for you.” Said Dionisio, paraphrasing in these ways make it “easier for the [other] person to receive the information.”
2. Quality time
To communicate with a partner who has this style, one must have uninterrupted one-on-ones with him or her, as well as face-to-face conversations.
“The once-a-week date is important, as a couple,” Dionisio said. “Kids shouldn’t tag along. And then you do your quarterly or twice a year couple vacation to continue the romance and the friendship. You want to avoid long absences.”
While doctor’s appointments, work meetings, and travels are usually marked on the calendar, so should time spent with one’s partner be scheduled, too.
“If you don’t schedule it, things might not happen. Good things in life are planned. So if we want to have a great relationship we should also plan [it].”
3. Receiving gifts
Though Dionisio admitted her fondness for presents, she said that statistically, receiving gifts was the language that had the lowest preference.
“Usually gift-giving is good if the four [other languages] are also generally [used] by the partner. But gifts alone, you cannot buy the love of your partner.”
Occasion or no occasion, one wants to give his or her partner with a preference for this language a note or a card. Tokens need not be expensive.
The Dionisio couple like to exchange lists of what each wants to receive. “Because sometimes it’s hard to guess. We realized over time [that] it’s so hard to really know what the other person likes. Sometimes it’s just a waste of money, or you’re very courteous. You say “thank you,” but actually….” This is where she shook her head, a sour expression on her face. The writer laughed in agreement.
4. Acts of service
Some people feel loved and cared for when their partner says, “What can I do for you?” or “How can I help you?” If he or she asks for help, the partner mustn’t resent him or her. Rather, the response should be “Ok! I’ll help you!”
“That is the love language of your partner. Hopefully you’re mature enough that you can give that to your partner,” said Dionisio.
The couple can make and exchange lists of three ways they wish to be cared for. In her case, Dionisio asks for a foot massage at night, ballroom dancing every month, and for her husband to keep the kids quiet while she rests.
5. Physical touch
Non-verbal signals like touches, hugs, pats, kisses, and hand-holding are part of this language.
“In one of the assessments to check whether your marriage is still good or not, included I the question, ‘Do you hold hands with your partner: A. daily, B. once a week, C. hardly, or D. never.’”
It is recommended that there be touch, at the very least, every day. For married couples, Dionisio said that lovemaking twice a week was also advised.
Part of this language is also “taking care of how you look,” added Dionisio.
Because that’s what love is
It is not the difference in a couple’s love languages that causes conflict. The problem lies in each party’s lack of awareness of his or her own language, as well as that of his or her partner.
“You don’t know what the love language of your partner is, you assume it’s this, and it turns out it’s not.” To rectify this, Dionisio said it was best to identify one’s love language, and report it to the partner.
Couples can find their love languages by taking an assessment at The Five Love Languages website (http://www.5lovelanguages.
What about one’s love language being different from their partner’s?
“As long as you’re both mature, we are capable of giving even if it’s not something that we really like. And you do it for your partner; that’s what love is. You have to stretch yourself and you do something to make your partner happy. So it is a matter of knowing the love language, and then carrying it out on a regular basis and getting yourself updated.”