What if you guess your partner’s love language incorrectly?

This is embarrassing but for quite some time I thought my wife’s love language was acts of service. It turns out, I was wrong.

What Are Love Languages?

The Five Love Languages, a book by Gary Chapman, describes ways to express your love to your partner. The idea is that there are five different “languages” that people speak that show their feelings. Those five languages are:

  1. Words of affirmation
  2. Quality time
  3. Giving and receiving gifts
  4. Acts of service
  5. Physical touch
Incorrectly guess love language from ninja dads

Each person has a preferred love language—one that resonates with them more than the others. If you don’t understand your partner’s love language, there’s a chance they won’t realize or understand when you try to communicate how you feel.

How Did We Get into This Mess?

I first heard about love languages 7 or 8 years ago. At the time, my wife and I had been married about 8 years. Things were pretty good. We were living in an awesome condo in downtown Washington, D.C.

At the time, we were expecting our first child, and I was convinced I would be the best dad ever. Both of us were working a lot and were relieved and excited. Our first son was on his way. After many years of trying and struggles with In Vitro Fertilization (IVF), finally our family was starting.

One of my colleagues mentioned love languages. I asked a few questions, self-diagnosed my wife and myself. My wife was surely acts of service and I was touch.

How did I know her love language? Well, it was the little things she said said: “I sure love it when my dad brings me a cup of coffee in the morning,” or, “I sure wish you would help clean up a bit more.” That kind of stuff.

Let’s Turn the Difficulty Up to “Nightmare”

So, a couple of weeks later, Warren Grant Drake, our first son was born. It was awesome for 5 minutes. Then, it was total chaos. Was he sleeping enough? Was he pooping enough? Did he stop breathing?

The bassinet lay next to our bed. I couldn’t sleep at all. For an 8lb baby, that thing made a TON of noise. Sniffles, coughs, cries, breathing, farts. Good grief. And this was only the first night home.

The next day Warren moved to his new room and I got to work trying to show my wife how much I loved and appreciated her by doing some dishes. Getting the mail. Paying the bills. Sweeping the floor. Doing some laundry. Crickets. At the end of the day, she was exhausted and didn’t seem to care at all.

6 months later, we found out we were expecting twins. Yup. The big T-Bomb. Holy crap—literally! We were going to have 3 kids under 15 months. Our house was too small.

Finding Ways to Say “I Love You”

To get ready for the twins, I decided to show my wife how much I love her by packing, sorting, cleaning, unloading, and setting up our new house. Crickets.

Then it all changed. May 20th, 2011, we had Violet and Jasper. Each day was crazy. If we didn’t get up 30 minutes before the first kid did, our day was over. As each child woke, we changed a diaper, got a bottle, and fussed about, times 3. It took hours of work to get the day started. I tried to show my wife my commitment to her and our family. Crickets.

We moved to Oregon a few years later, and I got to work renovating our new house. I put in reclaimed hard wood floors. Crickets. Painted the kids’ new rooms. Crickets. Replaced the falling down deck. Crickets. Washed the dishes, unloaded the dishes, did some laundry.


Learning a New Language

For three straight years, one of my annual goals was to make my wife feel loved. I piled on more acts of service. Yet, each year I grew more frustrated.

Then, I had a major discovery. I was lamenting my woes to some friends. One of them asked, “Hey Kirk, how do you know her love language is ‘acts of service?’”

Oh, I know. What else could it be? She told me she loves it when her dad brings her coffee in the morning. She frequently asks for help around the house. I am 100% certain. I say as much to my friend.

My friend continued, “Well, did you take the test?”

I thought, shit, this must a trick question. Take an actual test? Of course I haven’t. I know my way around WebMD—why go to a doctor? Just self-diagnose. How hard could it be to know your partner’s love language? There are only 5 choices, and I know she isn’t “touch” or “gifts.”

I replied, “No, she’s definitely ‘acts of service.’”

But doubt crept in almost immediately. Could this be it? Am I this much of a moron? I started laughing.

Um, does anyone have a copy of the test?

It Was All Greek to Her

Less than an hour later, she texted me: “I am quality time.”

Welp. Shit. I am a moron.

That night, I focused on really listening, connecting, and being with her. You’ll never guess how she felt about it. (Hint: almost as though it was the first time I’d said, “I love you” in years.)

So, now I get why she hates it when I have my phone out. I get why she doesn’t want my help making dinner, and also, I better not be doing anything else. It all clicks.

Perhaps you are a struggling dad or husband looking to make your wife happy and feeling loved. If so, you might want to step back, assess your assumptions, retake the test, and see what you missed. There’s a decent chance that you’re saying all the right things, but in all the wrong language.

Want to read more Dad stuff? Or recon more ninja stuff? You can do both in our other blogs!

What is a Ninja Dad?

Five Best Things About Being a Dad

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