Relationships 101: How to foster and grow a healthy relationship

Relationships 101: How to foster and grow a healthy relationship

Ben and Mary are a millennial couple living and working in Seattle. Mary is a nurse at a local hospital and Ben is an engineer at Microsoft. Both Ben and Mary are driven people whose jobs are very demanding. Mary often works night and sometimes weekend shifts while Ben doesn’t usually get home until after 7:30 pm most weekdays. As a result of their differences in schedules, their love life has begun to suffer. Mary feels as though Ben doesn’t take the time to spend enough quality time with her and Ben feels that Mary doesn’t appreciate the work he does to sustain their standard of living in Seattle. This is a common scenario that plays out for many driven millennial couples.

The demands of life and work can become overwhelming and we may feel that we don’t have the time to dedicate to nurturing our relationship. In the book “The 5 love languages”  by Dr. Gary Chapman, Dr. Chapman examines the 5 love languages people use to express and receive love. We as humans need loving relationships in order to live a happy and healthy life. If you can define your partner’s primary love language, you can begin to express your love in a way that will build a healthy and long lasting relationship. Throughout the rest of this article we’ll go over the 5 love languages and discuss how you can apply your partner’s primary love language to improve your relationship.

Words of Affirmation

Words of Affirmation - Relationship

In the book, Dr. Chapman identifies “Words of Affirmation” as the first of the 5 love languages. Words of affirmation include words that encourage, support and express love towards your partner. An example of this may be telling your significant other that “you love him/her” or encouraging your partner to try out an activity they’ve always wanted to try. People whose primary love language is words of affirmation will take these words as a sign that you love and care for them.

In the case of Ben and Mary, Ben’s primary love language is probably “Words of Affirmation”. He’s been feeling neglected because Mary hasn’t expressed gratitude for all the hard work he’s been doing. If Mary wanted to make Ben feel loved, she could express her appreciation for all the work he’s done to provide for them. This would help Ben feel appreciated and he’ll be more willing to reciprocate love back to Mary.

Quality time

The second love language is “Quality Time”. Individuals whose primary language is quality time value one-one focused interactions with their partner. Now just because you hang out in the same room as your partner doesn’t mean that you’re spending quality time with them. Coming home and sitting in front of the TV as your significant other tries to talk to you is not a quality interaction. Activities such as taking a walk with your partner, getting away for a weekend together and going out on the town for a nice dinner are examples of quality interactions.

In the case of Ben and Mary, Mary’s primary love language is probably “Quality Time”. If Ben wanted to make Mary feel loved, he could take her out on a nice movie date. This would help them reconnect as a couple and will have Mary feeling over the moon.

Gift giving

Gift Giving - Relationship

The third love language is “Gift Giving”. Gift giving is a part of the courting process in many different cultures around the world. People whose primary love language is gift giving, feel love when they receive gifts or trinkets from their significant other. This can be as simple as a flower you find in the park to a tropical vacation in a beautiful destination. Although you may be thinking this love language could get expensive, not all gifts have to cost money. In the book, Dr. Chapman gives examples of gifts that cost no money at all.

Some of these gifts include an exotic feather you found in the park, a smooth stone you found on your stroll, a handmade card telling your significant other how much you love them and a piece of finished wood with your names carved in it. Often times, these gifts are the most valuable to your significant other. If your significant other’s love language is gift giving, try hand making a card to express your love and appreciation. I know he/she will appreciate it.

Acts of Service

Acts of Service - Relationship

The fourth love language as described in the book is “Acts of Service”. This love language is expressed via acts of service for another individual. These include chores such as cooking, cleaning, laundry, taking out the trash as well as helping your significant other with things important to them. Activities such as preparing for a work presentation or helping them work on their favorite hobby are also examples of acts of service. Nowadays this love language creates quite a bit of controversy because it can be misinterpreted as a way to perpetuate gender roles.

However, if your partners primary love language is acts of service, nothing will speak your love louder than making him/her dinner one night a week or offering feedback on their work presentation. Make the commitment to do something in service of your partner this week and see the positive results that come of it.

Physical Touch

Physical Touch - Relationship

The final love language is “Physical Touch”. This love language is characterized by physically touching your partner and showing affection. For individuals whose primary language is physical touch, there’s nothing better than cuddling in the morning or holding hands while watching a movie. Although this may seem like a relatively easy love language to satisfy, many people have a hard time expressing love in this way.

This is especially true for individuals who didn’t grow up in a family that was very touchy feely. If this is the case for you, I suggest trying to make expressing love in this way a priority. It may feel uncomfortable at first, but the satisfaction you’ll bring your significant other will be well worth it.

Bringing it all together

After a heated argument one night after work, Ben and Mary knew they had to change how they approached their relationship. They picked up a copy of the “5 love languages” and began the process of identifying each other’s love language. After much deliberation, Ben concluded that Mary’s love language was “Quality Time” and Mary determined that Ben’s language was “Words of Affirmation”. With this new information in hand, they began to craft their plan of attack of how to best satisfy each other’s needs. Ben began taking Mary out to a new restaurant once a week where they could enjoy a nice meal together while Mary began showing Ben appreciation for all that he was doing for their relationship.

After a few months of this routine, Ben and Mary’s relationship is better than ever and they’re excited for their future together.Now that you understand each love language, go out and try to identify what your partner’s love language is. See how your significant other shows affection and what they most complain about. These data points will give you powerful clues as to what your significant others love language may be. Identifying and acting on your significant others love language will improve the quality of your relationship and your life.


My book recommendation for this article is “The 5 love languages” by Dr. Gary Chapman. This book is not a subject that I usually read about but the insights I’ve gained from this book have already helped improve my relationship with my girlfriend. Understanding what her love languages are (Quality Time and Words of Affirmation) I’ve been able to show her love in a way that makes her feel special and wanted. I highly recommend this book for anyone looking to improve their relationship with their significant other. I’ve provided the link below:

Check out the “5 Love Languages” here