when your love languages change

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Chris recently took the 5 Love Languages assessment for work. His results haven’t changed since he took it during our engagement, five years ago. Physical touch and quality time will probably always be my husband’s love languages. He’s so solid, so steadfast.

Me? I’ve been doing this gig ever since my parents taught it  in the 90’s. I grew up using terms like “love tank” and trying to learn how to love other people in ways that felt foreign to me.

I’ve spent most of my life experiencing love through words of affirmation and physical touch. I’ve always felt worth when people use kind words to me and pat me on the back. I figured it’d stay that way, always and forever. I felt confident in my ability to communicate my needs, confident in knowing myself so well.

And then somehow, seemingly out of nowhere, I changed. A few years and milestones have passed since I last took the test or evaluated my life experiences. Suddenly, I don’t race to cuddle up to my man as soon as the kids go to bed, or rush into a friend’s arms for a hug after long time no see. I want my skin to myself when I get the opportunity. I don’t hawk the phone for sweet text messages from my husband, the way that I used to. Instead of thriving under praise from coworkers or blog readers, I find myself easily embarrassed by the compliments.

Don’t get me wrong. Those two love languages still speak to me in all the right places. They encourage me and remind me that I’m loved. But lately, something’s felt off. I’ve begun to place subtle emphasis on other love languages, and it’s left me frustrated. I admit that I’m in a darkish, funky season in regards to motherhood right now… but I can feel this tension pop up occasionally in my marriage. I think I owe it to my other half to be clear in what I’m feeling. So while Chris was out of town last week, I took the test again. I felt it building even before I finished, before I saw the results. The test was trying to tell me that I am different. I am different now.

The quality time score didn’t surprise me much. I’m pretty protective possessive over our schedules, and I’ve been known to follow Chris around like a puppy dog. But the next two results? And the things to which I related most before, being at the bottom of the list? Goodness. 
Christopher and I have never bought each other gifts for birthdays or our anniversary. We choose instead to eat out at fun restaurants all day long. Now, I pin things like this in hopes that we’ll start exchanging gifts soon. I used to handle menial household tasks by myself, keeping details from Chris to save the hassle. My idea of an act of service was getting an occasional foot rub. Now, I find great pleasure in sharing to-do lists with him and letting him in on permission slips and childcare arrangements.
The seemingly sudden change to loving gifts boggles my mind a bit, and yet it answers a lot of questions. Since becoming a mother, owning nice things has become more important to me. I like the idea of looking down at a watch and being reminded that my husband values me, even in the midst of the craziness that is our life. I also like the idea of having things to hand down to my children someday. These sentiments feel new (and shallow) to me, so it’s taken some self-exploration to get to the point where I can admit them. As far as acts of service go, the concept has become a vital piece of our partnership. Both of us work full-time hours, although Chris has a more flexible schedule and is able to spend most days at home. It’s a constant give-and-take with us, a balance that requires us to gauge each other’s moods and quietly pick up the slack on those days.
Does this ring true for anyone else? 
Have you found that your love languages morph as you grow and change?

24 thoughts on “when your love languages change”

  1. YES! I have noticed a definitive shift in this last year, especially since my husband’s accident. Physical touch used to be both of our primary love language but that has definitely changed for me. With the long hours at work and now having more responsibilities at home, I find acts of service to be so much more important. I need to retake the test, too. I bet it will help give me some perspective! Excellent post!

  2. Interesting to think about. Myself and my hubby did this test a few years back when we got married and just reading over it now seems like my languages have changed a bit as well since our kids came along. Will have to do the test and see how we go :) thank for sharing

  3. Receiving gifts has always been at the bottom for me….until recently and now I desperately wish my husband would buy me gifts. Not big, expensive things but just little things here and there that make me know he’s thinking about me or knows what I like or was paying attention when I said I liked or wanted something.

  4. great post, and YES! since becoming a mom I’ve changed in huge ways, especially how I receive love. how I GIVE love is the same – touch, gifts, service, but how I RECEIVE has changed – service became enormous for me, touch less so. Makes sense, right? I’m touching babies ALL day, and in massive need of service help around the house whereas before I handled that with ease. Thanks for this insightful post, I couldn’t agree more.

  5. My husband and I were just talking about this yesterday!!! It seems like back before we had kids our main love languages were touch and quality time. Now I really ache for acts of service and words of affirmation. I think it’s pretty normal for a few years of motherhood to change your needs from what they were before. :) But it can be confusing and frustrating to try and keep up with it all! We’re still trying to figure each other out. Or me out, anyway.

  6. one night my husband and i took the test and it both of our results were different than what I thought they would be. it’s a pretty neat test and allowed me to see what he really does need from me and vice versa. i’m sure though as time passes, we may have a different love language too.

  7. Mine have changed too! Thanks for this post! Need to have my hubs take it again too, cuz he’s still a mystery to me even after 7 years. Growing up with parents who talked about love languages all the time, I was aware that words of affirmation was important to me… and it still is high! But once in a relationship/married I quickly realized physical touch was even more important for me.(I naively thought only guys had that love language!) And now this time around I came out a 10 on quality time! That’s what going-on 3 kids and work/grad school will do to you, I guess! :) Also, Dar is not the man I married. And I’m not the woman he married. Life changes us. I think it makes sense with different seasons… different things speak love to us.

  8. Motherhood changed a lot of priorities for me. I’ll always be a words of affirmation girl, but physical tough and receiving gifts (both of which were high up on the list) are now at the bottom. Gifts make me think of all the OTHER ways we could spend our money and by the end of the day I am just touched out. But quality time? I can’t get enough.

    And acts of service? Never used to matter to me, but there is no better to way to love my husband and as the years have gone by, I’ve realized how much EFFORT is involved in loving someone that way. Someone tackling something off my to do list so I can focus on my children? Can drastically change my day.

    I think as our seasons change and our needs change, we feel and receive love differently.

  9. Yes yes yes! I’m realising that gifts and service are playing bigger parts in life. I always thought they were the shallow love languages but realise that they don’t have to be extravagan but just given or done in love. I wonder what it is about being a mum that makes us change?

    1. Learning that balance of loving a human you created and yet still loving the human with whom you created the other human… it can get confusing and heart-heavy, but it’s worth the work, huh?!

  10. I was really insecure growing up, and words of affirmation and quality time were also my strongest love language… As my marriage began to fail and my job became increasingly stressful and as I lost pregnancy after pregnancy and people flooded our house with love and food and cleaning (and more food), I realized that acts of service was really up there. I didn’t necessarily want flowers or to have a long and meaningful conversation, I wanted to see love through an empty sink of dishes, through the laundry folded. My head was so full of grief that I needed a minute to myself to just relax and be alone for a few minutes. This is one of the most valuable tools in the world when it’s implemented right. I will know better next time.

  11. I found this post to be so interesting. I’ve never taken the test or read the book but I’ve had it sitting on my shelf for almost a year now. It inspired me to pick it up and start digging.

    I do think, after reading your post, that I’ve changed quite a bit since having kids – and I would bet a whole lot of money on the fact that my husband and I have different needs in how we receive love.

    I will take the test after I read the book and find out!

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