What Your Spouse Hears when You Say 'I Love You'

Loving not just straight from the heart but in ways your spouse feels most loved

By Greg Smalley
7 Jun, 2016

"Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around."

-- Leo Buscaglia

Focus on the Family’s marriage experts have found that genuinely thriving couples typically excel in twelve key areas of marital life. One of those areas is mutual nourishing.

Cherishing and nourishing are closely interrelated. To cherish is to love, esteem, and treasure someone in your heart. To nourish is to communicate that love in ways the other person finds meaningful. Nourishing is all about edifying or building up. The key is to encode the message in a language he or she can understand.

Marriage counselor Gary Chapman says that every individual has a primary “love language.” We have to learn to speak that language if we want that person to feel loved. You can talk all you want, but until you master the correct expression there’s a good chance your spouse won’t even hear your professions of undying devotion. According to Dr. Chapman, there are five basic love languages:

  1. Words of Affirmation. Some people thrive on being verbally recognized and acknowledged. If your spouse falls into this category, realize that he or she craves your words of spoken praise and appreciation.
  2. Acts of Service. The old saying “Actions speak louder than words” is especially true for certain individuals, andparticularly in the realm of marital love. If that’s your mate, you’ll be amazed at what an impression you can make simply by taking out the trash.
  3. Receiving Gifts. There are other folks who attach a great deal of significance to receiving gifts. It doesn’t have to be an expensive or elaborate gift. Just the thought is enough to make this type of person feel deeply loved and cherished.
  4. Quality Time. Still other husbands and wives value the gift of time more than anything else. The “quality” of time is particularly important. Give this person your undivided attention if you really want them to know how much you care.
  5. Physical Touch. Finally, skin on skin contact is highly important to some individuals. If physical affection is your spouse’s primary love language, nothing will communicate your love more clearly than a simple touch or kiss.

Do you want to help your spouse grow and flourish? Then learn their love language and start to use it. You’ll be surprised what a difference it will make!

Adapted from Love-Speak by Dr Greg Smalley © 2015 All rights reserved. Used by permission from Focus on the Family.

Life is a journey, and we all need a little help at times. Let our professional counsellors help you and your spouse build a stronger relationship together. Find out more at www.family.org.sg/counselling.


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