Does your heart beat faster when your loved ones show appreciation? Does a walk in the park with your significant other make you feel worshiped? Maybe you get weak in the knees when your partner makes dinner or does the dishes...or maybe a thoughtful gift or a massage is your heart’s desire.
In his best-selling book, Gary Chapman lays out the five love languages: words of affirmation, quality time, physical touch, acts of service and receiving gifts. Chapman posits that these are the main ways people loved, and developed the concept based on his experience in marriage counseling.
And although the book was published in 1992, it’s endured.
“When you learn your partner’s love langue you uplevel your relationship by 1,000 percent. I’ve seen it with clients and my own personal life,” says Cristina Morara, a relationship expert and the founder of boutique matchmaking service Stellar Hitch.
“At the end of the day, it’s your responsibility to find out what your partner’s love language is," she continues. "If you don’t love someone the way they need to be loved, it’s like filling up a cup with a hole in it. It doesn’t have legs.”
In preparation for Valentine’s Day on Feb. 14, Morara shared what gifts might work best to show we’re fluent in our partner’s love language.
Words of Affirmation
Write a note inside a beautiful journal. Or give them a piece of jewelry engraved with the name you call them or “whatever cheesy thing you say to each other,” Morara says. You could also choose a couple’s book you can read together. Her recommendation is Getting the Love You Want by Harville Hendrix and Helen LaKelly Hunt, which delves into the psychology behind your attraction to one another. For something lighter, read poetry to each other–"whatever helps your partner enjoy your voice and words," she says.
Book a cooking class or tennis lessons—anything that shows you want to spend time together. Or surprise them with a cute picnic basket you fill together and head to the beach or the park. If staying in is easier, Morara recommends the card game We’re Not Really Strangers, which helps deepen your connection by asking questions.
Give or book them a massage or treat them to a spa day. Run a hot bath with low light, candles, music and wine. Gift them lingerie or something ultra-comfortable, like a braided throw or a weighted blanket, and get under it together for a cuddle.
Acts of Service
Do something to lighten their workload. Even if it’s takeout, unexpectedly serve up dinner or breakfast in bed. Or put together a booklet of hand-made coupons for chores. Consider hiring an organizer, a cleaning service or a pro to fix something for them. You could also sign up for a meal delivery service that makes cooking at home easy and cuts out having to grocery shop.
"The key here is that it’s not the price tag, but the amount of thought that goes into it," Morara explains. Jewelry is usually a winner, but never underestimate the power of a handwritten card that lets them know why you love them. Anything personalized, whether it’s a mug, a cutting board or a T-shirt works, too.
"Splurge on that expensive wine they love. Anything that shows you’re really thinking about them, instead of yourself and what you like," Morara says. "And always avoid pre-wrapped gift baskets!"