Every couple would like to be happy with their significant other. When they got together, they intended to make each other happy, and hoped that it would be reciprocated. Many partners feel they have sincerely tried, but have been unsuccessful, and don’t know what else to do. Some blame their partner, and others blame themselves.

Happiness is often the by-product of feeling loved. We all recognize during the initial phase of dating that euphoric state commonly referred to as “being in Love,” as being happy. It is this sense of extreme happiness that led us to become committed. We wanted to be this happy the rest of our lives. Unfortunately, all research indicates that the “in love” experience is temporary.

Remarkably, the answer to how to maintain happiness in relationships falls into five categories revealing a unique approach in how to effectively love another person. Different people with different personalities express love in different ways. These ways of expressing and receiving love are called love languages —there are five, and every individual has one they prefer above the others, and is referred to as their primary love language.

Words of Affirmation

Actions don’t always speak louder than words. If this is your love language, unsolicited compliments mean the world to you. Hearing the words, “I love you,” are important—hearing the reasons behind that love sends your spirits skyward. Insults can leave you shattered and are not easily forgotten. You thrive on hearing kind and encouraging words that build you up.

Acts of Service

Can helping with homework really be an expression of love? Absolutely! Anything you do to ease the burden of responsibilities will speak volumes. The words he or she most wants to hear: “Let me do that for you.” Laziness, broken commitments, and making more work for you will lead you to think your feelings don’t matter. When others serve you out of love (and not obligation), you feel truly valued and loved.

Receiving Gifts

Don’t mistake this for materialism. This person thrives on the love, thoughtfulness, and effort behind the gift. The perfect gift or gesture shows that you are known, you are cared for, and you are prized above whatever was sacrificed to bring the gift to you. A missed birthday or a hasty, thoughtless gift would be disastrous—so would the absence of everyday gestures. Gifts are heartfelt symbols to you of someone else’s love and affection for you.

Quality Time

Nothing says, “I love you” like full, undivided attention. Being there is critical, but really being there—with the TV off, fork and knife down, and all chores and tasks on standby—makes you feel truly special and loved. Distractions, postponed activities, or the failure to listen can be especially hurtful. Whether it’s spending uninterrupted time talking with someone else or doing activities together, you deepen your connection with others through sharing time.

Physical Touch

This person might be more easily identifiable. Hugs, pats on the back, and thoughtful touches on the arm can all be ways to show excitement, concern, care, and love. Physical presence and accessibility are crucial. Neglect or abuse can be unforgivable and destructive. Appropriate and timely touches communicate warmth, safety, and love to you.

Discovering and learning to speak the primary love language of someone you love can radically strengthen and improve your relationship with them. Are you getting through emotionally? Every spouse has an emotional love cup. When their love cup is full, they are happy. When their love cup is empty, the whole world looks dark. The key to a full love cup is learning to speak your partners primary love language. Speak that language and their love will cup fill up quickly. Speak another language and it fills up more slowly. The mistake most often made is when you speak your own primary love language instead of your partners. You must first learn your partners primary love language and then begin to speak it fluently, even when it isn’t natural to do so.

Author: Stephanie Phillips, LCMHC, NCC, CCTP.

To discover your own love language or that of someone you love, visit www.5lovelanguages.com