F is for Five Love Languages: Building Emotional Intimacy in Your Relationship

Love is a many splendored thing
Love lifts us up where we belong
All you need is love.
— Ewan McGregor: Moulin Rougue

What wise words from Ewan McGragor, “All you need is love”. But how exactly do we give love and how do we receive love? And importantly, what does it have to do with sex and intimacy?

Sexual intimacy is a key piece that adds the yummy flavor to a relationship. It’s the bread and the butter but we often forget one very important ingredient to help with sexual intimacy, and that is emotional intimacy. It is the essential piece that is vital to the sexual intimacy in a relationship.

When talking about the importance of emotional intimacy it is the brain that we need to make sure gets attended to. Your brain is your biggest sex organ and therefore for desire for sexual intimacy to grow, the brain needs to be wooed and seduced and felt safe with emotional intimacy. This helps to increase the chances of entering into the physical realm of the relationship. This is especially the case for many women. Men have the helpful boost of Testosterone to guide them into the realms of physical intimacy. Women, on the other hand, don’t have that helpful boost from Testosterone to push their minds past the stress of the day or the feelings of resentment from an argument that happened earlier that morning. A helpful way to think of this is to consider men’s desire like a gas fireplace, where the flame is quick to get going, and women’s desire is like that of a wood fireplace, slower for the flame to build and more susceptible to the environment.

How can you and your partner help with the emotional intimacy? A great place to start is by looking at the Five Love languages offered by Gary Chapman. Love languages are important to emotional intimacy because when put into action in a relationship they fill you up with the feeling of “oh my goodness my partner was thinking about me, he/she finds me important and loves me!”

Not everyone gets filled up emotionally in the same way, and that’s where the different languages come in. You want to make sure your partner is sending over love in a way that you need and that you are sending over love to your partner in a way that he or she needs. It’s like any language, if your partner is speaking love to you in Russian but you speak English, your partner’s efforts are not going to have the intended outcome and a ton of frustration can bubble up and can cause distance.

So what are the Five Love Languages? Below is an outline of each language and some examples to get you thinking as to which language(s) are yours and which are your partners. Keep in mind you might have one primary language, or several might fill you up emotionally in the same way.

  • Acts of Service – This would include things like your partner scraping the snow off the car or getting the kids ready for school, which would have you feel loved.

  • Gift Giving – This is your language if your heart melts when your partner gets you your favorite cookies at the store, or gives you a book you mentioned you wanted to read.

  • Physical Touch – If having your partner cuddle up close to you on the couch makes you feel important or when they put their arm around you when you are both out with friends, this is likely your love language.

  • Quality Time – When you get to sit with each other over dinner (even if it’s mac and cheese) and talk about your day or you both are in the same room reading a book, quality time speaks to you.

  • Words of Affirmation – This is your language if you love hearing your partner say things like, “wow honey! Great job on that project at work” or “you look wonderful in that shirt”.

To help give you an even better idea, you can take the online quiz HERE. to see what language(s) are yours and which are your partners. Challenge yourselves to focus over the next couple weeks on sending over love in your partner’s language 1-3 times a day. Notice what changes occur in the relationship. Also notice what blocks you from giving the language of your partner or receiving the efforts from your partner. Keep in mind that these efforts do not have to be on firework level. Small, frequent and consistent is the key. Think of it like watering a garden; you can’t dump a bunch of water on it on Monday and then expect it to be good for the rest of the week. Instead you need to water your relationship with emotional intimacy frequently and consistently.

The Five Love Languages are a great place to start but by no means is it the magical answer to all your relationship woes. Sometimes relationship gardens have stubborn weeds that need to be removed in order for the Love Languages to have any impact on growing the physical intimacy of the relationship. Seeking the help of a professional relationship weed-minimizer (aka a sex and relationship therapist) can help you in this area.