Today’s Love Language of focus, is Words of Affirmation. This love language is first discussed in the book, and focuses on the way we speak to each other. In The 5 Love Languages Chapman discusses that giving your spouse a genuine compliment every day is one of the best ways to effectively express loving words of affirmations. Though it’s important to distinguish that this is not insincere flattery; but genuine expressions of appreciation and gratitude. I’m also listening to a podcast series The Art of Charm, in which the focus of these episodes is High Value and Low Value behaviors. In these episodes, they discuss that humans crave attention, approval, and acceptance and how giving compliments is one way to add value. This podcast as well as Chapman emphasize the importance of being genuine when giving compliments. Being overly complimentary comes across as disingenuous and can have the negative effect of what is hoping to be achieved. A genuine compliment celebrates something of high value. This can be a high value behavior or something that you or the other person values.
So how do you provide words of affirmation to your spouse without faking it, especially if this is not something that comes natural to you? Start simple, start small. It doesn’t have to be grand declarations of love in handwritten letters, it can be as simple as a text. It can be as simple as writing a note on a post-it. It’s as simple as using ways in which the compliment will be best received by the person you are expressing it to.
Words of Affirmations do not have to just to compliments, they can be encouraging words. Speaking these words can be ways to help your spouse overcome something in which they are struggling, or give them the courage to try something new. To use encouraging words effectively, you must also use empathy, to see your spouse’s perspective. Using empathy, shows your spouse that you are actively listening, that you understand their point of view, and that you want to help them and/or give them credit or praise.
Chapman also writes “When we receive affirming words we are far more likely to be motivated to reciprocate and do something our spouse desires.” To me, this speaks to the old saying, ‘you get more bees with honey than vinegar.’ If you use kindness and humility as a way of communicating, it can never be a bad thing. The words and tone we choose to use with our spouse greatly determines the outcome of our communications. If you speak in requests as opposed to demands, and show kindness and appreciation rather than sarcasm and contempt, imagine the difference that would make with your spouse.
Regardless of whether your love language is Words of Affirmations, I believe this is an important love language to focus on first, as it sets the tone for our interactions. So here are a few simple things you can do, regardless of your love language to utilize Words of Affirmations with your partner:
- Leave them an encouraging note to find somewhere they wouldn’t expect it.
- Compliment them on something they have been working hard on. Have they started a new exercise program? Did your wife get her hair done?
- Express Gratitude. Tell your partner you appreciate something they have done, like taking out the trash or helping bathe the kids.
- Tell your spouse something you admire about them.
- Use empathy to convey comfort. “I’m here for you” or “I understand that must be difficult for you.’
And finally, one of the simplest ways to use words of affirmation:
6. Say I love you and say it often.