Personality tests are all the rage in our society right now. Myers-Briggs, Enneagram, DiSC, and countless others. While I’m not someone who puts much stock into those kinds of tests, although I was very proud of my INFJ type in college, there is one personality “test” that I think is very valuable. The beauty of this one is that you don’t even have to take a test to figure out the answer. You just have to pay attention to the people around you. That test is the love languages test.
If you grew up in a Christian home (or at least Baptists since that’s really all I can speak for) then you’ve probably taken this test at some point or another. The basic premise is that there are five different ways in which people prefer to receive love. The 5 love languages are words of affirmation, gifts, physical touch, acts of service, and quality time.
THE LOVE LANGUAGES IN OUR HOME
My husband Chase and I are polar opposites when it comes to love languages. His top love language is physical touch. That doesn’t just mean what you think it means though. It means that he wants a hug when I walk in the door. He wants a kiss goodnight. He wants me to put my hand on his knee when he’s driving or play with his hair. However, my lowest ranked love language is physical touch. Sorry babe.
On the other hand, I’m a words of affirmation girl (which is also his second-lowest). As I tell Chase, I need constant validation. That’s a little bit of an exaggeration but not by much. I love it when he tells me thank you for dinner or when he tells me that I look pretty. I love to be told that I’m doing a good job as a wife or in my career. Those things mean the world to me.
WHY IT MATTERS
The reason I think understanding love languages is so important is that we tend to give love the way that we want to receive it instead of the way the other person wants to receive it. That’s not because we’re intentionally being selfish, but it’s because we tend to think that people want the same things we want. When it comes to love languages the golden rule isn’t “do unto others as you would have them do unto you” it’s “do unto others as they would want you to.”
If we don’t recognize the ways in which our significant others receive love best, then we might run into situations where we’ve been showing them love and they still don’t feel it. It creates unnecessary tension within our marriages because one person feels like they’ve been doing their best and the other feels neglected. I often have to refocus and remind myself to love Chase the way he receives love best and not the way I want to be loved.
Obviously, as his wife I want him to feel loved and appreciated. This doesn’t mean that I don’t ever buy Chase a gift or tell him how proud I am of him just because those aren’t his top love languages. It does mean that I try my best to take notice of the things that he appreciates most and do them more often.
Love languages aren’t just for your romantic relationships though. Very similar principles can be applied to all of our relationships, including our work relationships! These are called the 5 Languages of Appreciation but it’s a similar concept. When we are shown appreciation in the way we receive it best it boosts morale and fosters more positive work relationships!
For example, as I said, I’m a words of affirmation kind of person and because of that I appreciate being told when I’m doing a good job or that I’m a valuable part of the team. My boss quickly realized this and does an excellent job of encouraging and affirming me. Similarly, one of my bosses is definitely an acts of service kind of person. He really appreciates it when people take initiative to take out the trash or take care of something important even after hours.
Love Languages and Appreciation Languages are incredibly helpful in all of our important relationships. With a little bit of extra thought and effort, we can more effectively encourage our loved ones and help those relationships flourish. It’s not always easy, but it’s the little things where we take an extra step to understand and support one another that make all the difference.