Scripture has much to say about the power of words. After all, words matter, and when it comes to our relationships, “the power of life and death” is held by the tongue (Proverbs 18:21).
Given the weighty influence of our words, it should come as no surprise that in matters of love, the “Words of Affirmation” category reigns supreme as the most common of the love languages.
What Are Love Languages?
A “love language” is a way that a person emotionally expresses and acknowledges love. Dr. Gary Chapman is a pastor and relationship expert who authored the best-selling book, The Five Love Languages.
In his book, Dr. Chapman identified five love languages that he noticed were being emotionally “spoken” by the married couples he counseled during his extensive career as a marriage counselor.
In particular, Dr. Chapman found that people tend to show affection in the same way that they like to receive it. In other words, the things that one person does to show love are the types of things that that person would like done back to feel loved.
For example, if you feel most in sync with your spouse during a romantic dinner, then Quality Time is your love language. If you’re thrilled by the thoughtfulness of a surprise gift, then you speak the language of Receiving Gifts.
Do you feel the most connected during moments of intimacy? If so, then your love language is Physical Touch. If considerate acts definitely speak louder than words for you, then you’re fluent in the Acts of Service love language.
Lastly, if you enjoy singing your sweetie’s praises and you’re overjoyed when they sing yours, then Words of Affirmation is your love lingo.
For purposes of this article, let’s zero in on the love language of Words of Affirmation, and consider ways in which you can show love through the power of your words.
What Are the ‘Words of Affirmation’ Love Language?
Think back to a time when you were told that you had done a good job on something, or when someone thanked you for your effort. Perhaps it was a boss, a friend, or a parent who recognized your hard work and verbalized their approval.
Those simple words of appreciation may have buoyed you for days or made you feel more connected to the speaker.
When it comes to married couples, Dr. Chapman tells us that words of affirmation make up the most common love language. This love language is also the only category that involves verbal expression.
You can spot people whose love language is based on Words of Affirmation because those people don’t hesitate to cheer others on. These are people who notice other people’s moods, celebrate other people’s accomplishments, and grieve when others grieve.
By the same token, these are the same people who are moved when others express their appreciation for them through words as well.
If your spouse’s primary love language is rooted in words of affirmation, here are four ways you can speak love to your beloved.
1. Call Your Spouse Just to Say, ‘I Love You’
If your loved one is reassured by words of affirmation, a phone call during the workday that may seem like an inconvenience to you may mean the world to them. The phone call doesn’t have to be long or consist of a litany of reasons you love your partner.
Rather, the phone call can simply be a quick “check-in” to make sure your sweetie is doing okay and to let him or her know that you love them.
Keep in mind that if verbal communication is hard for you, your sweetie would be over the moon if you jotted down your I love you in a quick note, email, or text.
Whatever your mode of communication, remember that sincerity is key. The effort you make in letting your loved one know that they are cherished won’t go unnoticed.
2. Speak Love by Being a Cheerleader
You know your spouse better than anyone. You know when they’re insecure or overwhelmed, hurting or just plain bummed out.
Your sweetheart may be having a string of bad days or they may be reeling from some recent bad news. Whatever the case, your words of encouragement may be the fix they need to steady their steps or bring some much-needed light to an otherwise gloomy day.
Whether it’s a simple “you’ve got this” before a big meeting, or a comforting “I’ll wait up to hear all about it” after a long day away from home, your heartfelt words of support go a long way to making your significant other feel loved.
And never underestimate the power of reassuring words on a sticky note smoothed onto a mirror to help your honey start his or her morning with a little more confidence.
3. Stick Up for Your Better Half
When you look at the love of your life, you may not be able to imagine anyone who doesn’t see all of the same qualities in him or her that you see.
Nothing bursts this bubble faster than when someone you know disparages your spouse. This can be especially hurtful when the critic is a friend or relative.
If you want your marriage to thrive, take your cue from longtime, happily married couples who say that the success behind their union is based on their united front. Use your words to show that, no matter how others may criticize your spouse, you are on your spouse’s side.
You don’t have to be rude to your loved one’s critic. But you do have to verbally assert that you love and stand by your spouse, and will not accept anyone’s insulting words pointed in their direction.
This will mean the most to your spouse when they hear you sticking up for them. If that isn’t possible, then be sure to communicate to them how you came to their defense outside of their presence.
4. Thank Your Spouse for What They Do
In a perfect world, couples would go around thanking each other every time they did something to make the other’s life a little easier.
The “thank yous” would flow like water whenever one of you got up with the baby in the middle of the night, drove the kids to their sports meets, or brought home dinner for a surprise date night in.
In reality, it’s easy to fall into a daily routine of checking off boxes on your to-do list and forget to express gratitude for all that your spouse does to keep your household running smoothly. Yet, gratitude matters, and telling your spouse how thankful you are for all they do can go a long way in making them feel valued.
For some people who speak the Words of Affirmation love language, a blanket “thank you for everything you do,” will make their heart swell. For others, they’ll appreciate your attention to detail in highlighting the specific things they did that you’re grateful for.
What Does This Mean?
For many couples, expressing words of affirmation can mean the difference between an evening spent enjoying each other’s company or an evening spent trying to figure out what triggered your sweetheart’s cold shoulder.
When you take the time to build up your spouse with words that resonate most in his or her heart, you’ll be doing your part to improve communication between you and your beloved. You’ll also be bolstering your marital bond in a way that will help stand the test of time. God bless your union!
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Dolores Smyth is a nationally published faith and parenting writer. She draws inspiration for her writing from everyday life. Connect with her over Twitter @byDoloresSmyth.