Are you wanting to learn how to better communicate your love and feelings to your wife or husband? Is one of your spouse’s love languages Words of Affirmation? Are you looking to learn more about the five love languages and / or Words of Affirmation?
If the answer to any of those questions is yes, then you have come to the right place.
In this post, we are going to discuss Words of Affirmation and the five love languages presented in Dr. Gary Chapman’s book, The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love that Lasts.
What are the Five Love Languages
First things first - What are the five Love Languages?
As mentioned above, the five love languages were presented in Dr. Gary Chapman's landmark book - The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love that Lasts which has sold over 15 million copies and helped countless couples improve their relationship.
Anne and I read it when we were first married and still refer back to it from time to time. It really gave (and continues to do so) us a better understanding of how to communicate and meet each other's needs.
In writing his book, Dr. Chapman called on his many years of working with couples to identify the five primary means in which couples express and receive love. Dr. Chapman referred to these as the 5 Love Languages.
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Below is a list of the five love languages identified by Dr. Chapman:
- Words of Affirmation - spoken or written words of love
- Quality Time - quality time focused on your spouse
- Receiving Gifts - thoughtful and meaningful gifts
- Acts of Service - looking to serve your spouse
- Physical Touch - a touch that conveys love for your spouse
In The 5 Love Languages, Dr. Chapman discusses how to develop a long lasting love through learning to understand how your significant other interprets love and how to meet their needs.
The 5 Love Languages is also written to help couples find their own love language. By having a better understanding of their respective love languages, couples can better communicate their own needs to their spouse.
Until couples learn to speak each other's love languages (and are aware of their own), their relationship will often struggle to reach its full potential.
An example of learning to speak your spouse's love language would be if a husband washed his wife's car, but his wife does not see this as an act of love. The husband may become disheartened when his wife doesn't respond to this act as he had hoped.
His wife may respond this way if Acts of Service is not a love language for her. She may really appreciate what he did, but it's not something that speaks "love" to her.
Conversely, if her love language is Words of Affirmation and the husband leaves her a heartfelt note by her morning coffee cup, then she will likely see this simple gesture as a strong act of love.
Keep in mind that of the five love languages, only one or two may be languages that resonate with your spouse from a perspective of how they interpret love. This certainly doesn't mean that you should not practice all five. In fact, you should be doing all five for your spouse on a routine basis.
In short, Dr. Chapman's book and the five love languages are all about learning to speak love in a manner that is meaningful to your spouse. Further discussion of The 5 Love Languages can be found in our post Build a Happy Marriage: Learn How Now.
Definition of Affirmation
A little housekeeping first - what do we mean when we use the phrase Words of Affirmation? What is the definition of affirmation? What does it mean to affirm your love?
In her book 5 Simple Steps to Take Your Marriage from Good to Great, Dr. Terri Orbuch defined affirmation as words, gestures, or acts that communicate to your spouse that they are appreciated, supported, and loved.
According to Dr. Chapman in The 5 Love Languages, to affirm means to express love emotionally through words that build up.
One very important thing to remember is that words of affirmation are not about getting your spouse to do something for you. Words of affirmation are about building up your spouse by making deposits in their love bank. It is about speaking words of love that resonate with their heart.
[my_quote]"I can live for two months on a good compliment." - Mark Twain[/my_quote]
Why Words of Affirmation are Important
If Words of Affirmation is one of your spouse’s love languages, then it’s critical for your relationship that you learn how and when to give your spouse positive affirmation.
Liveabout.com discussed in their post The Importance of Compliments in Your Marriage that "the long-term success of your marriage is partly dependent on how you both show gratitude for each other."
Dr. Orbuch found in her research of 373 married couples that adding positive behaviors to the relationship can have a significant impact in a couples’ happiness.
People who have Words of Affirmation as their love language express and interpret love through both spoken and written words. They see an “I Love You” text during the workday as a deep expression of love and feelings. Similarly, they really appreciate and value encouraging words from their spouse before an important meeting.
Providing your spouse with positive affirmations of love will make deposits in their love bank. Repeatedly making meaningful deposits such as this will help you and your spouse build a strong and loving relationship.
How Affirmation Can Help Your Marriage
As discussed in The 5 Love Languages, couples must learn to say “I love you” in a manner that is meaningful to their spouse.
As stated above from Dr. Orbuch’s research, positive affirmations send a message to your spouse that you are thinking of them, that they are supported, and that they are loved in a manner that is meaningful to them.
By speaking your spouse’s love language and providing them with affirmations of love, you are telling them that you value them enough to learn what is meaningful to them. This may be despite the fact that expressing yourself in such a manner is very difficult or uncomfortable.
When your spouse knows that expressing your words of love (either verbal or written) is out of your comfort zone, it's going to make your affirmations for love that much more meaningful.
20 From the fruit of their mouth a person’s stomach is filled; with the harvest of their lips, they are satisfied. 21 The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit.[/my_quote]
One of the key aspects of marriage is for the husband and wife to learn how to communicate their love for each other.
Examples of Words of Affirmation
For some spouses, it's not easy coming up with Words of Affirmation for him or her, but it shouldn't be that difficult. It really just a matter of being in tune with your spouse and understanding their needs and what is going on in their life.
- are they needing reassurance in your relationship,
- an occasional acknowledgment of what they do for your family,
- your support and understanding during a difficult time, or
- simply your words of love?
The answer to those questions comes from your ability and willingness to learn your spouse and improve your ability to communicate with them.
Below is a list of Words of Affirmation for your husband or wife to help you get started.
- I appreciate that you do _______ for me.
- I love you more than you can ever imagine.
- I would marry you all over again.
- You are a wonderful husband/wife.
- I am so thankful for you.
- I am blessed to have you in my life.
- I love that you do _________ for our family.
- My life is better because of you.
- You make me want to be a better person.
- I love how much you love me.
Other lists of Words of Affirmation for him or for her can be found below at these great sites.
In the end, you are going to have to know what will be meaningful to your spouse and what will meet their needs.
Understanding Your Spouse’s Need for Affirmation
If Words of Affirmation are not your love language, then it may be a little difficult for you to understand just how important and meaningful it is for you to affirm your spouse.
It also may be a little difficult if you have a hard time expressing yourself. But, your spouse needs to hear and read from you your love, support, appreciation, and admiration. By learning how to express affirming words of love you are learning how to show love in a manner that speaks to them.
How to Put Words of Affirmation in Motion
Sooo, Words of Affirmation is one of your spouse’s love languages. What do you do next? How do you put it into motion and begin to speak their love language?
[my_quote]The deepest principle in human nature is the craving to be appreciated. William Jones[/my_quote]
The great thing is, providing your spouse with words of affirmation is cheap. It cost nothing to offer your spouse kind, loving, or supportive words.
You can speak kindly and lovingly on how much they mean to you, what a great provider they are for the family, how well they parent the children, how kind they are to others, how nice they look at a given moment.
Words of Affirmation can be delivered through a variety of methods and all can be super effective. You just need to understand your spouse to know which method(s) may or may not be most effective.
For the cost of an index card, you can leave a message of love and encouragement for your spouse all around your house, in their car, in their computer bag, etc.
Below is an example of one of the many notes that my Anne has left in my computer bag or suitcase when I travel.
She knows that I love finding notes like this with those words of encouragement. It's an easy and cheap way that she shows her love for me.
It's one of the many ways that you can express words of love and affirmation. Other options for delivering Words of Affirmation to your spouse include:
- text messages throughout the day
- face-to-face conversation
- love notes left for your spouse to find
- letters with sincere heartfelt words
- emails during the workday
- cards with your own expression of love
In order to put Words of Affirmation into motion, you need to think about what would be meaningful to your spouse.
- encouragement in a difficult time
- compliment with specifics
- praise in front of others
Remember to always use sincere and heartfelt words with the intention of getting nothing in return. Words used to get something in return is making it about you and not your spouse. That is not speaking with a loving heart, but with selfish desires.
What if Your Spouse Doesn’t Respond to Words of Affirmation
Ok, what do you do if you try to meet your spouse’s desire for affirmation of love, but their response isn't exactly what you expected?
How do you feel when your efforts are not received in a positive manner? Rejected? Angry? Defeated?
Does their negative response make it more or less likely that you will continue to try?
I think it’s perfectly natural to allow their negative response to impact your willingness to continue trying. Nobody likes to put themselves out there only to have their efforts rejected.
However, you need to consider their point of view. Have you been overly critical of them in the past? Have your words been harsh and biting?
Words of kindness are often overshadowed when they are later followed by mean or biting words of criticism. Don't undo your efforts to be loving with words that hurt your spouse.
If so, your spouse may have trust issues and question the sincerity of your words. You need to make sure they understand that you are trying and maybe even acknowledge your past mistakes of being critical or unsupportive.
A few tips when your spouse is having difficulty accepting your efforts:
- Be understanding of their hesitation
- Communicate your intentions
- Use kind and sincere efforts
- Be consistent with words of praise
- Look for opportunities to acknowledge or support
Words of Affirmation and Self-Esteem
One thing you should be aware when trying to express the love language, words of affirmation, is that your spouse's self-esteem may play a role in how they respond to your efforts.
Dr. Guy Winch discussed on psychologytoday.com how some people find it very difficult to receive positive words from others due to their self-esteem.
If you are having difficulties speaking affirming words of love to your spouse due to their self-esteem, then it is important to remember you can use your words and actions to help build up their self-esteem.
The goodmenproject.com has a great post on helping your spouse overcome low self-esteem - 7 Ways to Help Increase Your Spouse's Self-esteem.
How do You Accept Words of Affirmation
Ok, so now the shoe is on the other foot. What if Words of Affirmation is one of your love languages. How would you grade yourself on your ability to positively accept your spouse’s efforts to give you affirmation?
How do you react when your wife or husband says something nice or affirming to you?
When offered the heartfelt affirmation “You look great today, dear” from your husband, do you downplay or reject the compliment by saying “No, my hair is a fright!” Instead just kindly say “Thank you for noticing” or “Thank you for saying so.”
When your spouse is offering sincere heartfelt words and trying to meet speak your love language, it's important that you learn to acknowledge their efforts.
By refusing to acknowledge their efforts, you make it possible that they may give up on their efforts to speak your love language.
Words of Affirmation Quiz
How do you know if Words of Affirmation is a love language for you or your spouse?
Well, there is a handy quiz that you and your spouse can take. You can find the quiz here for him and for her.
Anne and I took this quiz many years ago. Identifying our respective love languages has been really critically important for how we communicate in our marriage.
Until you understand how your spouse perceives love, you will struggle to speak love in a manner that touches their heart. Similarly, you need to understand your own love language so you can effectively communicate your needs to the other.
Concluding Thoughts on the Words of Affirmation Love Language
When it comes to speaking your spouse’s love language of words of affirmation, it really comes down to showing them appreciation, support, and love through heartfelt words.
Pay attention to what is going on in their life and realize when you have an opportunity to praise or support them either through verbal or written words.
Words of affirmation can be inexpensive from a monetary standpoint, but incredibly valuable to your spouse when given with heartfelt intentions.
This very simple gesture will show them that you understand their needs and how they interpret love.
Let us know what you think.
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Until next time, God bless