Give and receive love in a way that changes your parenting partnership for the better.
This post is focused completely on the COUPLE. I know, I know…you want tips on helping your baby to sleep BUT having a baby really tests us—it tests all of the relationships in our lives and it takes real dedication and commitment to nurture ourselves and our partnerships.
If you are a single parent, all of this information remains applicable because as parents, we need to be cared for.
One of my VERY FAVORITE activities to do with any couple or single parent is to familiarize them with this wonderful body of work done by Gary Chapman, PhD, called The 5 Love Languages.
Having a baby really tests us—it tests all of the relationships in our lives and it takes real dedication and commitment to nurture ourselves and our partnerships.
Chapman suggests that we all have 1-2 LOVE LANGUAGES which are ways in which we are cared for that leave us feeling loved. It is important to remember that you might not have the same love language as your partner. And, if we don’t check in about it, so much can get lost in translation.
The Five Love Languages are:
- Words of Affirmation
- Quality Time
- Receiving Gifts
- Acts of Service
- Physical Touch
Chapman theorizes that people tend to naturally give love in the way that they prefer to receive love, and better communication between couples can be accomplished when one can demonstrate caring to the other person in the love language the recipient understands.
“These love languages change the emotional climate between a couple. You realize that you’re each here to enrich and enhance each other’s lives, and you work to make that happen.” - Gary Chapman, PhD, Author, The 5 Love Languages
Love Language: Words of Affirmation
This Love Language is about showing the person you love by EXPRESSING yourself verbally.
People who have this as their primary Love Language feel LOVED and SEEN when they are told.
Specifically the things they do, the qualities they have, the way in which they contribute, and how it impacts you. These words are intended to UPLIFT and EMPATHIZE with the person you love and let them know that YOU SEE THEM.
If your partner or loved one has Words of Affirmation as their Love Language, it is imperative that you REGULARLY remind them how much they mean to you. Just expecting them to know is not enough.
Saying things like:
“You work really hard for us, and even when things may feel tough, I just want you to know how appreciative I am.”“I am here if you need me and I want to help support you in any way I can.”
“Parenting is hard and I want you to know how strong you are.”
“You are so sexy.” This is a BIG one for postpartum parents as we all fall into pajama wearing land and forget that we are in fact sensual and beautiful beings!
By the way, have fun with it! It can be spoken, but it does not have to be. It can be a trail of Love notes on post-its all over the house. It can be a handwritten letter. It can be a list of things you love about your partner.
Love Language: Quality Time
If your partner’s primary Love Language is Quality Time, it means that they feel loved the most when you spend intentional and attentional time with them.
Makes sense, right? But this Love Language gets misinterpreted all of the time. Quality Time isn’t just hanging out together—what makes it special is that it is intentional, thought out, and deliberate.
Think about it as special time spent together where you are giving your ATTENTION to your partner.
Some examples are:
- Take a slow walk around the neighborhood.
- Do a puzzle or play a board game.
- Find a new recipe and make it for dinner together.
- Take a mini road trip.
- Go outside and lay under the stars for 20 minutes.
- Make homemade pizzas and eat while you watch the sunset.
- Have a dance party—just the two of you.
Tip: NEVER bring your phone.
To figure out how to give your partner Quality Time you have to figure out what they love to do…and then create that together….with little to no distractions. Having a baby in the mix means you get to be extra creative but …you got this!
Love Language: Receiving Gifts
What is special about this Love Language is that it is not about constantly buying more, more, more to satisfy your partner. It is about the thought you put into how you show your love.
For people who have Receiving Gifts as their primary Love Language, what makes it special for them is that there is some sort of sentimental quality to the gifts.
If they love to draw, perhaps the gift is a new set of pencils. If they have had a hard week, perhaps it is a soft pair of pajamas pants or a cozy robe to snuggle in. Perhaps it is a journal to write in.
Giving gifts does not have to be expensive. Chocolate kisses delivered in a creative way can go a long way for anyone who loves gifts!
Make sure that what you give is their style. If they LOVE roses, do not gift them a cactus.
Love Language: Acts of Service
People whose primary love language is Acts of Service feel your Love and Connection by the things you do. Actions that may appear simple to you, actually feel like you have gone above and beyond for them.
Here is what is important to make this gesture felt:
- You do not need to be asked to do this
- These acts of service are spontaneous because you know your partner well enough to know what makes them feel loved
Tip: find small ways to make your partner feel cherished. New parents who are facing overwhelm—this one goes really, really far.
Some examples are:
- Mowing the lawn
- Doing the dishes
- Getting up in the middle of the night to take care of the little one
- Changing the oil in the car
- Ordering dinner to be delivered and then cleaning up
- Giving your partner shoulder massage
- Giving your partner a glass of water or refill their current glass.
- Brushing your partner’s hair.
Go for it. Think of one thing you can do today that is an Act of Service and offer it up to your partner.
Love Language: Physical Touch
In some degree or another, we ALL need physical touch in our intimate relationships, but for those whose primary love language is Physical Touch, it can be even more important. Remember, this is how they feel connected and loved so a simple hand on their back while you walk, a foot rub while they feed the baby, holding hands while you take your evening walk with the baby, tickling their back before bed, playing with their hair or giving them a head massage. Any of the above will help your partner relax and soften—a part of parenthood that is often forgotten amidst all of the overwhelm.
This simple act of love can help them feel their body and more importantly feel loved.
Take the Love Languages Quiz
If you are curious about what your primary Love Language is (or your partner's) and wish to take a quiz on it, check out https://www.5lovelanguages.com.