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Valentine’s Day and The 5 Love Languages

Updated January 2020
Guest post by April Garner, PhD

Valentine’s Day is quickly approaching and along with it comes all the pressure of planning a day that fully conveys your love and commitment. Even if you feel that it’s just a commercial holiday it still comes with some level of expectation and stress. If you haven’t heard of the 5 Love Languages, we’ve got some tips that may make a big difference for you this Valentine’s Day.

Back in 1995, Dr. Gary Chapman wrote a book called The 5 Love Languages to help couples express love to each other in a way that the recipient can really understand. The idea is that each person has their own way of giving and receiving love. When we aren’t aware of our personal language or our partner’s language then sometimes love gets lost in translation. Below we’ll look at each language and how you can celebrate your loved one fully and in true Memphis style with the help of some locally-owned businesses. 

Language 1:  Words of Affirmation

Simply put, some people need to hear you say you love them out loud and/or in your own words. It seems simple enough but a busy day-to-day schedule can lead to careless speech and forgetfulness. Take time this year to tell your partner you love them, remind them why you think they’re wonderful, and make sure to express your gratitude.  

Try writing a love letter. You can find beautiful blank cards and stationery at these local places:

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Language 2: Acts of Service

The language of service frequently gets overlooked because it doesn’t immediately seem romantic. But never discount the impact of taking care of a chore or task that typically falls to your partner. Take your partner’s car to fill it with gas, pick up something for dinner, or do the dishes even when it is not your turn. All of these things take the weight from your partner and demonstrate that you see all they do. You can find some local service providers that may help you clear some free time for your partner. 

Housekeeping Services

Laundry Pick Up and Delivery

Car Detailing Services

Grocery Delivery/Errands/Odd Jobs

Food Delivery

Language 3: Physical Touch

Intentional physical touch without a goal other than closeness is crucial to any relationship. Some people need more touch than others, so sometimes we don’t think to physically connect casually as much as our partner needs. This year, take time to hold hands with your partner and to sit closer than necessary from time to time. 

Try a Couples’ Massage

Ballroom Dance classes are a wonderful way to practice cooperation, movement, and communication with your partner.

Language 4: Gift Giving

Gift-giving does not have to be expensive, it just has to be thoughtful. Show that you considered your partner when giving a gift and you can’t go wrong. Even if you miss the mark, humor can be found in good intentions that lead to odd outcomes.

So how do you thoughtfully choose a gift? What’s an activity your partner enjoys but rarely gets to do? Maybe tickets to a show by a local arts group are in order. What are their hobbies? Would they love to go shopping at a local record store (Goner, Shangri-La, Audiomania) or go to an art workshop or practice something new (Belltower Artisans, Arrow Creative, Five In One Social Club)? Is there something that has sentimental value that you can have professionally framed? What helps your partner feel relaxed


Language 5: Quality Time

All of the love languages require some level of thought and time. The 5th language is solely about your thoughts and time. To feel loved some people just need to know you prioritize them by making time and space for them on a regular basis without other distractions. That means putting your phone away at dinner or during TV time, making an effort to engage in activities that focus on togetherness. 

Memphis has no shortage of great options for dinner at various price points. Here are some options that are either on the smaller side, mellow, romantic, or all three:

Free places to set the mood for closeness:

Adrenaline activities can breed closeness and introduce excitement so also try:

Find out your Love Language using this quizFor more fun ideas to make Valentine’s Day special, check out the Lovesick Guide to Valentine’s Day in Memphis.  

Dr. April Garner

Dr. April D. Garner is a native Memphian, licensed clinical social worker, and certified sex therapist. 

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