If you’ve never heard of the book “5 Love Languages” by Dr. Gary Chapman, you are MISSING OUT! This insightful read has sold over 11 million copies & has been translated into 50 languages…FIFTY freaking languages. Clearly, this guy knows what he’s talking about! Throughout the article I’ll be referring to notes Dr. Chapman makes in the book because let’s face it – he knows what he’s talking about & I’m just here to share my take on it! If you haven’t ever read the book, or heard about this, I promise – it’s super easy to follow!
I’m breaking this down into a 5-part series, where each blog will cover one of the 5 Love Languages. Initially, I planned on this being only one article, but the further I got into the book, the more I realized there’s just TOO much valuable information to pack it all into one article. As a quick overview, here are the 5 Love Languages:
- Words of Affirmation
- Quality Time
- Receiving Gifts
- Acts of Service
- Physical Touch
If you’re new to this concept, let me give you a quick(ish) synopsis. Each person has a “love tank” that needs to be filled & everyone’s preferred method of RECEIVING love falls in one of the 5 categories above. When someone’s love tank is running on E – it can be really volatile to their relationships. The book compares it to driving your car on empty – eventually, it will quit working & you’ll be stuck in rush hour traffic on the interstate with LOTS of angry drivers honking their horns & being all around rude. However, when someone receives love through their preferred method, their love tank will gradually fill up. A full tank = a good, healthy tank! Quick side note: Most people will GIVE love, the way that they prefer to RECEIVE it. And that tidbit is important when you start to implement this into your relationships.
If you’ve never taken the test before, I HIGHLY recommend you do! You might think you know what your Love Language is, but I was pretty surprised when I found out what Jordan and mine were, so give it a go! It’s super short & you can find the quiz here. Jordan and I did this as part of our pre-marriage counseling & I had both of us retake it as part of my research for the blog. Interestingly enough, mine stayed the same & Jordan’s shifted a tiny bit. First up…
WORDS OF AFFIRMATION
I was enthralled by this first chapter because this happens to be one of Jordan’s top 2 Love Languages. Also, I feel like I should preface this by saying, this book was written for married couples but as far as I can tell, there’s no reason these same concepts wouldn’t work with your other relationships (family & friends)!
Words are so incredibly powerful. They can tear someone down or they can empower & lift someone up. I’m no scientist, but I would assume that if this is someone’s Love Language, an unkind word or snarky remark can have a dramatically deeper & damaging effect on the person versus someone who’s Love Language is not Words of Affirmation. Dr. Chapman breaks this Love Language down into a few dialects or subcategories that are definitely worth sharing.
The photo below is from our wedding, almost 5 years ago! It might seem like an odd photo to use for Words of Affirmation, but what you probably don’t know is that this was moments before we were married. While we didn’t want to see each other before the ceremony, we did want to pray together. Before we made our commitment to be husband and wife, we spoke words of affirmation over each other & our future together. This is one of the most special moments of my life & I love that we have it documented forever.
This may seem pretty obvious, but when someone’s Love Language is Words of Affirmation, a simple encouragement can go a really long way! Later I’ll give you a few ways to implement encouraging words. My favorite quote from this chapter of the book, “Encouragement requires empathy and seeing the world from your spouse’s perspective.” When I read that line, it literally blew my mind! I had never once thought about the correlation between encouraging Jordan & having empathy for him, but it makes so much sense. Encouragement sometime requires me to put my thoughts & wants aside & empower Jordan to do something he’s maybe been dreaming about for a really long time.
My mom used to say this to me ALLLL the time growing up, usually when I copped an attitude, which was pretty much every day in high school – “It’s not WHAT you said, it’s HOW you said it.” And like always, my mom was right. If I tell Jordan, “Thank you SO much for taking out the trash!”, but my tone is really saying, “Why did it take you so long to take out the trash?” – well, that’s not affirming him, that’s putting him down. I can say this from experience too…kind words = healthy marriage = win win for both of us!
“Love makes requests, not demands.” – Gary Chapman. MAN! Did I tell you or did I tell you? This guy has a way with words (pun possibly intended). How many times have you demanded someone to do something & they respond with a big ol’ smile & a chipper, “Sure! Whatever you say!” – yeah, that like almost NEVER happens. Instead, how about starting with, “Would you mind changing the oil in my car?” or “Do you think it would be possible for you to stop by the store on your way home from work & grab a few things?” – I guarantee you the response you’ll get is a much more pleasant one than if you demanded your spouse do those things.
Notebooks & More
I don’t know if you remember, but back in November, I shared how Jordan and I have a “Giving Thanks” notebook, where each day in November we write down one thing we’re thankful for. In February, we have another notebook where…you guessed it! Each day we write down one thing we love about the other one. It’s easy for us to become passive with expressing our love for each other because you know…life! This is a perfect way for us to intentionally focus on our marriage, which will only help us be the best for each other & for Quincy Bear.
Tidbits if Your Spouse’s Love Language is Words of Affirmation*
*For the most part, I’m summarizing what they say in the book. If you want more in-depth examples, get yourself a copy!
- Give yourself a daily reminder that WORDS ARE IMPORTANT. Personally, I think this is a great thing reminder whether your spouse’s Love Language is Words of Affirmation or not because let’s face it – we’re all humans & we all interact with other humans, and we should all be kind & uplifting to one another. But for this blog’s purpose, post a sticky note somewhere you’ll see the reminder every day.
- Let’s take an audit. Jot down each affirmation you give your spouse. You’ll either be pleasantly surprised at how you’re already rocking it or it will be good motivation to kick it up a notch.
- Give yourself a big hairy goal of one affirmation a day for an entire month.
- Since we’re talking about languages, why not try “I love you” in a different language. Bonus tip: the French language is VERY sexy sounding!
- For extra brownie points (although we shouldn’t be keeping score), compliment your spouse in front of other people. It will boost their confidence & really fill up that love tank of theirs. A public declaration goes a long way!
- Take note of their strengths & be specific when you compliment them. For Jordan, it would be something along the lines of, “I really appreciate how you work so hard for our family.” or “The way you interact with our daughter just warms my heart.”
- Send them a sweet & short email or text. If you’re feeling feisty, spice it up a little 😉
- Compliment and thank them for something they ALWAYS do but would never expect to be thanked for. Jordan if you’re reading this (which I sincerely hope you are), “Thank you for always making sure there’s room for me to park my car in the driveway.” (See what I did there guys? I just crossed off #3, #5, & #8 on this list. But I swear, I’m not keeping score.)
I hope you guys have enjoyed this article as much as I’ve enjoyed researching & writing it! Marriage and relationships take work, SERIOUS freaking work! It’s a lifetime commitment of putting the other one’s needs & wants in front of your own, of encouraging, empowering & pushing your other half to be the best version of themselves. I am a firm, firm believer in the 5 Love Languages because I’ve seen it’s work in my own marriage. If you’d like some more information, I’ve included a few resource links below. Next up…Quality Time – stay tuned!
Rise Together Podcast with Dr. Gary Chapman
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