love languages

The Five Love Languages for Successful Couples


In all my years of counseling, diverse couples, marriages, and partners, it’s become clear that everyone benefits when they begin to apply them in all their relationships.

Rarely do couples share the same love language. It can create a lot of frustration when you think you are doing a good job expressing love and yet the other person is just not feeling it. If you don’t understand the love language concept, then you can feel stuck. But it, you understand that they speak a different language, then you can learn to speak that language.



The love languages were originally written by marriage therapist Dr. Gary Chapman in his book, The Five Love Languages. The book has a religious theme that doesn’t resonate with many of my clients, but the foundation of this basic couples theory still offers important guidance. 

Basically, there are five main ways we demonstrate love in relationships.  Everyone has a need for all five languages, but each of us prefer one of these more than others. Usually each individual values one or two of the five more than the others.

Most of us communicate love to our partners primarily through our preferred love language- which doesn’t always match our partner’s preference. This miscommunication means sometimes our efforts go unacknowledged.  And sometimes we don’t see all the love our partner is throwing our way.

Sometimes we can have trouble connecting with love even if it is all around us.


Think of a time you felt truly loved in your relationship. You were sure your partner loved you dearly. What were they doing? What specific actions did they take? Why were these actions important or meaningful to you?

Or think about daydreams or fantasies you have about being well-loved. What’s going on?  How does the person in your dream tell or show you they care?

Now read the languages below to see which best fits with the scenario you described above.

Most people enjoy all of these Love Languages but you will see one or two of them are especially important. Knowing which is your primary or favorite helps your partner better connect with you when showing love.

Knowing which is your least priority helps you identify loving practices you might overlook in partnership.

Your preferred Love Language can change over time, of course, so identifying it clearly and talking about it with a partner will help you two connect in more meaningful loving ways.  

Focus on the love you share this week with this framework in mind and watch what happens!  

entrepreneur relationships | couples who are entrepreneurs

Gina Senarighi has been supporting loving couples and healthy teams for nearly twenty years. As a former couples therapist turned retreat coach, workshop facilitator, and author she's transformed partnerships, leaders and communication strategy all over the world.  

Her uniquely non-judgmental, inclusive approach to couples work puts even the most concerned participants at ease.  She's not your average sit-and-nod supporter- she'll hold hope even when it's hard and always help you grow. 

Call for a consultation to see how she can help you deepen connection, communicate effectively, and passionately reignite your relationship.

31 Creative Ways to Say "I Love You"

All too often we forget to show the ones we love how important they are to us. So here are 31 creative ways to say “I love you” to get you through the start of 2017.

Hopefully these starters will get ideas rolling to last you the next 365!

Creative Ways to Say I Love You

  • Watch a sunset or sunrise together and bring a picnic or background music to set the mood.  Check for sunrise or sunset times in advance!

  • Make a love note scavenger hunt hiding sweet reminders and rewards in your home, office, or neighborhood.

  • Read bedtime stories. Pick a favorite book and read aloud together. Quality time together and the expansion of your individual/collective knowledge bases.
  • Send an e-greeting.  Someecards is my personal favorite for snarkiness, and you can personalize them!
  • Write it in the sand.  Or the fall leaves, or seashells, or shoes boxes, or rose petals….
  • Unplug.  Set up a media free night and focus 100% of your attention on your honey.
  • Write it in lipstick on the mirror.  Even if you aren’t the one who wears lipstick (or neither of you do).
  • Share five minutes of uninterrupted eye contact. Try it and see what happens.
  • Throw a surprise appreciation party with close friends where everyone gives a short speech about why someone is loved.
  • Plan your sweetheart’s dream date. Do exactly what they love to do, with no strings attached.
  • Write it in the snow (no, not like that).  If you live somewhere cold, use food coloring and a spray bottle to write sweet words in your love’s yard. These folks did it with spray paint.
  • Make a calendar.  Use your google or iCal or Outlook or whatever, and make a note every day of one thing you appreciate about your special someone.  Make sure you share it so they can see!
  • Re-live your first date, or meeting.  Remember the details and try to line things up with meaning.  If it was awkward, stage a re-do.
  • Love all over.  Trace your sweetie’s body and fill in the outline with all the awesome things you appreciate about their body.
  • Make a homemade thank you card.  Get out your markers, glitter, and crayons!  What a sweet (and sparkly) way to say something kind to someone you love!
  • Write out an alphabet of appreciation. Make a list of something you appreciate about your sweetheart for every letter of the alphabet.
  • Be the Grocery Fairy.  For those of you who prefer “acts of service” as your love language- surprise a lover with a week’s worth of fresh groceries.  Don’t forget the note from Grocery Fairy!
  • Bake it.  Say it in cookies, frosting, cakes, or pie tops.  Make your sweeties favorite sugary treat and top it with your love.
  • Make a modern mixtape. Curate hand-picked tracks for your honey, to let them know you’re thinking of them!
  • Hand write a letter explaining why you love someone—and be specific.
  • Dedicate and perform a karaoke song to your beloved.  Dance moves always help.
  • Goodnight love note. Hide a love note under their pillow.  Better yet, make them alove note pillow.
  • Go international.  Surprise them with an “I love you” in another language.  Usegoogle translate to get your pronunciation right!
  • Host a personalized movie marathon. Arrange a marathon of your sweetheart’s favorite films from their childhood or college days.  Don’t forget the popcorn!
  • Home movies. Use iMovie to piece together a collection of reasons why you appreciate your sweetheart and upload to vimeo.
  • Breakfast in bed.  You can even make pancakes or toast that say it for you.
  • Written on the body.  Write a love note on your body and have a scavenger hunt for your lover to find it!
  • Make a love map.  Not the Gottman Love Map you hear me talking about all the time, instead this time get a map and stick a pin in it for each of your travels.  If you have yet to go far, stick another color in for your future travels!
  • Play it out.  Make a crossword or word search puzzle of your favorite inside jokes.
  • Send a panty-gram.  Yes.  That’s what it said.

Start loving more creatively today!  Pick something above, or submit your own creative way to say I love you in the comments.

relationship coach | positive psychology | happy couples | couples retreat

Gina Senarighi, MS, MA, CPC has helped thousands of couples review their growth together, and renew their connection moving forward. 

For nearly 15 years she's specialized in strengths-focused, positive psychology-based relationship advice and coaching to nurture lasting joy and and resilience in her client's relationships.  

She will help you:

  • develop a shared vision and goals- and create actionable steps to move in that direction
  • overcome outdated patterns and establish new intentional, healthy ones
  • strengthen trust or repair it after infidelity or dishonesty
  • connect in meaningful ways during and well after life transitions
  • design rituals of connection that will keep you close for many years
  • break stale or unhealthy communication patterns and learn new skills 

Contact her for a free consultation to see if working with her is right for you.

Healthy Relationships: The Five Love Languages

In my coaching, I have found it particularly useful for couples to understand and integrate the Five Love Languages.  Gary Chapman (author of The Five Love Languages) says that there are five main ways individuals express and receive love.  Each of us has a preference for with language we receive.  We are also each more skilled in giving love in one of these ways than the other.

The trick is that we are most likely to give love in the forms that we most enjoy receiving.  But our partner may have a different preferred language and may miss our attempts at showing our love, or may give love in a way we aren't even realizing!

To clarify your preference take a few notes on the following questions:

1.  What is the sweetest thing your partner has ever done for you?  What made it so touching?

2.  What are the five most recent ways you showed your partner you love them?  How did they respond?

This information will help you determine your preferred love language.  Often we default to our own favorite love language when giving love to our partner.  However, its important to try to use a variety of ways to show your sweetheart you care.  Its even more helpful to learn their preference and try to work in ways they will really enjoy being loved.

The Five Love Languages are:

1.  Words of Love: Sweet things said or written to one another

There are many ways to share words of love.  It's really helpful to share affirmations and appreciations every day.  Tell your partner why they are special to you and what drew you to them.  Help them see how great they are in person and in writing.  Emails, texts, quick phone calls or Skype dates can quickly warm your loved ones' heart.  It can take a little creativity if this isn't your primary love language.  Make a list of all the ways you can tell them and begin making attempts every day.  You might want to make them a card, write it on a cake, read it in a poem, or shout it from the rooftop!

2.  Physical Affection: Nonverbal physical intimacy

Do you hold hands in the movies?  Do you kiss hello and goodbye?  hugging, cuddling, and sex is especially important to partners who prioritize this love language.  Increasing the amount of loving touch you share doesn't take much time, but may require a little thought, especially if this isn’t your primary love language or you didn’t grow up in a physically affectionate family.  Simply sitting close to each other as you watch TV requires no additional time, but can communicate your love loudly.

3.  Acts of Service: Actions providing care for the other

Anything you do to ease the burden of responsibilities weighing on an a partner who highly values acts of service will speak volumes. Some of the words they most want to hear are, “Let me do that for you.”  Ask yourself, what chore or responsibility is your partner constantly nagging you about?  Your spouse is telling you this particular task as a really important thing to him or her.  Try it as a starting point for your acts of service.

4.  Quality Time: The gift of your undivided attention

Time is a strong communicator of love and all too often couples spend more time apart than together.   Because we are drawn in so many directions it is especially important to spend real-time focused on each other and your partnership.  In order to increase connection and communication for the partner who especially values quality time there are a few easy ways to improve the quality of your shared time.

  • Set your electronic devices aside for a set time (especially on dates and during conversations).

  • Maintain eye contact when your partner is talking

  • Try not to interrupt

  • Reflect your partners words back to them so they know you hear them.

  • Ask yourself, what your partner is experiencing, and try to confirm their emotional experience

5.  Gifts: Gestures and/or presents as symbols of your love

All five love languages challenge us to give to our spouse, but for some, receiving gifts, visible symbols of love, speaks the loudest.  This does not have to be a materialistic gesture.  Some of the most meaningful gifts can include tickets to a show you loved together, or a receipt from a date when you were just getting to know each other.  They can be flowers from your yard, or drawings, or poems.  Keep a note of your partners wish list (Evernote can be a great tool for this on your smart phone) so you always have ideas handy.

Understanding the five love languages and the ways they support your love can lead to greater creativity, interest, and most importantly awareness in your relationship.