Consider your partner's love language before you splash out
The language of love is different for different people, so study hard and spend wisely
It’s worth considering your partner’s love language — the way they express and experience love — before you splash out or dive into debt to fund an expensive Valentine’s Day gift or celebration on Thursday.
Marriage counsellor Dr Gary Chapman, author of the 1992 best-seller, The Five Love Languages, lists them as quality time, physical touch, acts of service, words of affirmation and receiving gifts.
Knowing your partner’s love language can not only save you strife but also lots of money.
For people whose love language is quality time, love means undivided attention, active listening and full focus. They find it deeply hurtful if you’re distracted when sharing time with them. If this is your partner’s love language, you could take a walk together, listen to beautiful music or cook a meal together, says money coach Winnie Kunene. “Appreciate the moment. Connect and realign. Discuss your relationship goals.”
This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t treat your partner to some Valentine’s Day pampering; it just means it might cost you more time than money.
If you do decide to spend money, work within your budget, Kunene says, and if you have to use your credit card, understand the opportunity cost — or what you could have done with that money instead. The cost of credit can also ultimately put a strain on your relationship, she says.
For those thriving on physical touch, nothing says I love you more like regular, unsolicited, physical displays of affection, even if it’s hand-holding or a hand on the back. If those who need love in this way don’t get it, it can leave them feeling neglected or even abused, Chapman says.
Actions speak louder than words for people who value being served. If you do anything to lighten their load, you will score big points, be it a small gesture such as making them a meal, doing the dishes or relieving them of a chore; anything that will save them time and effort. Your service demonstrates to them that you love and value them.
For those seeking affirmation, encouraging words have the power to build them up like nothing else can, and when you use words to validate them, they thrive. But the opposite is also true; insults and harsh words can inflict deep wounds, says Chapman.
The most misunderstood love language is receiving gifts. Chapman says it’s not so much about the gift itself as it is about the love communicated by the gift.
The perfect gift for someone who experiences love in this language needn’t be expensive — it could be a pot plant or a pair of running socks. It’s the thought that counts.
But beware of giving a thoughtless gift or gifting with the wrong motive, for example, giving your girlfriend double tickets to the final match in the Rugby World Cup, knowing that she’d rather prefer to eat roadkill than watch rugby.
Also be mindful that you can hurt those you love when we give love in your primary love language instead of in the recipient’s. If your partner’s love language is receiving gifts, think carefully about the small things they need or want, and buy what you can afford.
Remember love can’t be bought.