UT Extension Recommends Honest Communication​

Candy hearts
​​Image courtesy dreamstime.com. 

The month of February, particularly around Valentine’s Day, is often when we talk about love, our partners and all things romantic. However, loving- both the giving and receiving- can sometimes be tricky. For instance, do you ever feel like you are not appreciated by your partner? Or maybe your partner never understands why you want to spend so much time together? A University of Tennessee Extension expert from the Department of Family and Consumer Sciences has suggestions on how to better understand and communicate about the ways we give and receive love.   

Heather Wallace, an assistant professor and human development specialist, stresses that not all people receive love in the same way. Wallace says, “Gary Chapman’s book, 5 Love Languages, is a valuable tool to better understanding preferences in how we would like to be loved by our significant other.” The book explains love as being different “languages” and how speaking your partner’s love language can help you understand your partner’s need and how to better interact. 

According to Chapman, the love languages are:
1. Acts of service (making the bed, helping with chores, running errand…all without being asked)
2. Quality time (spending time together in the same space)
3. Physical touch (hugs, holding hands, shoulder rubs)
4. Gifts (expensive or not…it’s the thought that counts)
5. Words of affirmation (saying specifically what you like and appreciate about him/her)

Chapman has a free quiz online at 5lovelanguages.com to help you determine which of the five languages best describes you.

Once you learn what your love language is, communicating with your partner is critical. Wallace notes, “Having both members of the relationship complete the assessment is helpful. Once you have each identified your love language, it is best to have a clear, calm and honest conversation about the results. Talk about what you appreciate in each other and discuss the times you have felt most loved by the other person. What is so interesting is that this often ends up in a shared ‘a-ha’ moment for a couple. It is this very moment when they can come together and say, ‘let’s commit to making our relationship the best we can.’” 

You can learn more about love languages and how to best use them during trainings offered through your local county UT Extension office. 

Through its mission of research, teaching and extension, the University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture touches lives and provides Real. Life. Solutions. ag.tennessee.edu​.



Dr. Heather S. Wallace, UT Extension Family and Consumer Sciences, 865-974-7193