According to the best-selling book The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love that Lasts there are five different ways in which people like to give and receive affection towards their loved ones. Problems arise in relationships when we don’t realize that people have these different ways of giving love. One person may feel unloved if their partner doesn’t tell them explicitly about their feelings every day while another could never hear “I love you” but be totally blissful as long as they spend hours together watching Netflix every week. If you or your partner’s love language is acts of service, here are some things to keep in mind.
1. They are “show, don’t tell” personified. Just as you might experience pleasure from the act of verbalizing your love, they experience pleasure from the act of not verbalizing, but demonstrating in a concrete way just how much they love you.
2. If this bothers you, try very hard to consider it a blessing. Talk is cheap. Anyone can say “I love you” and not mean it. It’s much harder to suffer the work of doing labor for someone if you don’t mean it. People whose love language is acts of service have a hard time being insincere, or cheating, or hiding a relationship because it’s always apparent who they care about. It’s the person they are doing favors for.
3. If you’re an “independent woman” or a man who can “take care of himself” consider your partners position. They want to do something for you. It’s not weakness to open up and let them help you out with something.
4. Always, always, always thank their acts of service. These are things they do specifically to demonstrate their love for you. Just as you wouldn’t let an “I love you” go ignored, don’t let these acts go un-thanked.
5. They expect you to do stuff for them, too. If they mow the lawn for you, bring them an icy glass of lemonade part-way through and rub their back afterwards. If they go get your car serviced, clean the garage so they have a clean, visually appealing place to park. Make sure they feel appreciated in the language they speak.
6. Lucky you! Your partner would be happy to take some undesirable jobs off your list. Don’t be afraid to communicate about what you really dislike doing. Paying the bills or grocery shopping can suddenly become an activity they enjoy when they know how happy it will make you.
7. Similarly, ask what they least enjoy doing. Perhaps it’s something you don’t mind and will make them feel awesome if you take it over.
8. Make sure you are always there for your partner when they really need concrete help. If they are moving or if their car gets towed or if they need a ride to the airport — volunteer wholeheartedly. Being able to rely on your unconditional help is so meaningful and important for an acts of service person.
9. Try to understand the way they like to be pampered. Do they love when you put the energy into cooking a three course dinner for the two of you? Or perhaps they’re gluttons for a lengthy full-body massage. As much as you like to be pampered through touch or words or whatever your love language is, ensure you are pampering them through theirs.
10. Don’t wait to be asked. Ask yourself. What can I do for you?
11. Recognize that acts of service is about the little things: packing a lunch for your loved one so they can sleep a little bit later, washing their clothes when they are short on time, warming up their car in the winter morning so they don’t have to get into a cold vehicle. Show your love in small ways, every day.