Learn how to give and receive love, with these practical examples of Gary Chapman’s five love languages, starting with words of affirmation (my favorite love language) and ending with physical touch (my husband’s love language).
“The object of love is not getting something you want but doing something for the well-being of the one you love,” writes Gary Chapman in The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love That Lasts. “It is a fact, however, that when we receive affirming words we are far more likely to be motivated to reciprocate.”
The five love languages are words of affirmation, gifts, acts of service, quality time, and physical touch. The most important thing to remember with the following “love language” examples is that what works for you may not work for your spouse. The most difficult thing is trying to remember what your spouse’s love language is, so you can express yourself in loving ways.
These love language examples and tips are from writers – some have been married for decades, others are single. Some are parents, and others don’t have kids. I’ve included a little bit of love from everyone, to give you a well-rounded perspective of how the love languages work.
How do you express your love?
Examples of the Five Love Languages
“Words of affirmation” is one love language. It sounds complicated, but all it means is saying good, kind, loving things to your partner. Words of affirmation increase the chances that your partner will respond with his own words of love, creating an upward spiral!
Words of Affirmation. When was the last time you told your partner how wonderful he is, how much he means to you, and why you love him? Words of affirmation are encouraging, kind, and supportive. What does your partner do well? What do you love about him? Tell him. This is a simple, effective way to express your love.
Here’s an example of this love language from Gary Chapman: “Allison always wanted to be a writer, but after receiving her first rejection slip from the publisher, she gave up. One evening her husband Keith came into the den and said, “I just finished reading your article. Allison, you are an excellent writer. This stuff ought to be published! Your words paint pictures that I can visualize. You have to submit this stuff to some magazines.” Ten years later, Allison has had several articles published and has her first book contract. She credits her success to Keith’s words of encouragement. Perhaps your spouse has untapped potential in one or more areas of life. That potential may be awaiting your encouraging words.” Helping your partner achieve her goals is one of the best ways to say “I love you”!
Gifts. Sometimes gifts are an easy way to show your love – unless you’re married to someone like me, who doesn’t want more stuff! But many people see gifts as a tangible object that says, “I was thinking about you. I love you.”
Here’s a creative example of expressing love with the five love languages: “I purchased a meteorite that was carved into a heart for a pendant,” says Kurtis Hemmerling. “Then I wrote a poem about how love is like the meteorite that comes from ‘heaven’ and must survive the intense heat and challenges.” Comparing your love to something as eternal and finite as the galaxy is a creative way to express love.
Acts of Service. This is my favorite way to receive love: practical acts of service. I love that my husband does the dishes every night and takes care of all the household repairs (even changing the lightbulbs!). Sandra Williams agrees, saying, “My ‘language of love example’ is acts of service,” says. “Washing the dishes, doing the laundry, or scrubbing the floor is romantic. Adding chocolate to any of these would be a bonus.”
But wait, there’s more: “Get that first cup of coffee in the morning and place it by his bedside,” says Elizabeth Batt. “Take the time to find gifts that have meaning. Say you’re sorry – and mean it. Bite your tongue. If you can’t bite your tongue, say it without malice. Do things you don’t want to do but you know will make him happy. Let him be when he wants to be left alone.”
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Quality Time. Quality time is about the experiences you share with your sweetheart. How do you spend your time together? Quality time isn’t watching tv together over dinner, or sitting side-by-side while you work on your laptops. Sometimes, quality time is about sacrifice, which may be a different way to express your love. This love language example is very practical.
“Sacrifice often spells love for me,” says Katrena Wells. “When I see someone going to a nursing home every day to feed lunch to a spouse who has Alzheimer’s and doesn’t remember who he/she is any more, that’s true love in my book. It’s often about the things that few people ever know about that can make a deep impression. Love doesn’t have to have an audience or a standing ovation…it’s just simply living it.”
“My late husband and I owned a business for 31 years and I feel that our kids got the short end of our time. They may not agree, but nevertheless, now I can be there for the grandkids. Their sick days home from school, an overnight now and then when mom and dad need a night out. They know they can call on me.” ~ June Smith.
This may sound odd, but one of the best examples of a love language is staying connected with yourself. If you know who you are and what you stand for, you can express love in healthy ways. Read How to Stay True to Yourself When You’re in Love.
Here’s an obvious example of expressing love with the five love languages: “Numerous research projects in the area of child development have come to the same conclusion: babies who are held, hugged, and touched tenderly develop a healthier emotional life than those who are left for long periods of time without physical contact,” writes Chapman in The 5 Love Languages. “Almost instinctively in a time of crisis we hug one another. Why? Because physical touch is a powerful communicator of love.”
I’m not as into hugs and wrestling as my husband is, and I have to constantly remind myself to reach out physically. That’s the tricky part of the five love languages: expressing love in ways that are different to you, but how your partner receives love.
“One of my favorite ways to express love is to massage his tired back or hugging him for no reason, writing a poem, telling him I love him just out of the blue, or surprising him with gift or his favorite dish.” ~ Linette Rabsatt.
A final thought on the different ways to express your love with the five love languages…
“Sometimes love is allowing something to be done for you even when it is not exactly the thing you want or like,” says Christine Eirschele. “For example, your kids who make breakfast in bed but the eggs are wrong or the kitchen is a mess. Or the husband who wants to buy you something but you know the ‘something’ is something he really wants more.”
If you’re new to a relationship or falling in love, read How to Know When You’re in Love. If you’ve been married for years and need a tune up, read How to Go on a Marriage Retreat Without Leaving Home.
How do you show your love – and how do you receive it? I welcome your comments on how to express love with the five love languages below.