It’s a sad truth that not every couple who walks down the aisle will find the happiness they are after. On the contrary, in 2020, a year when 1,676,911 marriages were reported to the U.S Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 630,505 divorces and annulments were also announced. However, that’s not to say the majority of marriages are doomed. With proper communication, effort, and appreciation, a relationship can flourish and become one of the most rewarding aspects of one’s life.
But when it comes to how we give and receive love, there are a few people who should be extra cautious with their marriage and its potential for collapse. Your love language can say a lot about you—even whether or not your union will last. Read on to discover the love language that relationship experts say means you’re more likely to divorce.
To start, what are the five love languages? “The love languages are a concept developed by author and pastor Gary Chapman to describe different ways that people express love and like to have love expressed to them,” says Suzannah Weiss, a sex and love coach and certified sex educator. “They are gifts, quality time, acts of service, words of affirmation, and physical touch.” To learn your love language, you can simply take an online quiz.
Once you know your love language and your partner’s love language, you can use that information to discover the ways you can make each other happiest. “For instance, if your love language is gifts, you might assume the sweetest way to help your partner recover from a bad day is to get them a gift,” says Weiss. “But if their love language is physical touch, they may actually prefer a cuddle session or a massage.” While these preferences may vary from day to day, knowing their love language could help guide your general approach.
Unfortunately, there could be one love language that could signal splitsville more often than the others. According to Rori Sassoon, relationship expert and co-owner of matchmaking agency Platinum Poire, that love language is gifts. “A person whose preferred love language is gift-giving will have the most difficult time connecting with the remaining four love languages,” says Sassoon. “Whether it’s time, touch, service, or words, a gift lover may not see the value in precious moments over presents.” This could lead to fights and incompatibility if the other partner doesn’t understand the gift giver’s approach.
Things could go especially south if there is a change of fortune in a relationship with a person whose love language is gifts. “Say their partner went through a rough patch, financially speaking,” says Sassoon. “If they could no longer provide ‘love’ through gifts, is the relationship at risk of crumbling? When the foundation of love involves a present over a person, the relationship is fragile to begin with.”
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Other love languages could also be at risk for marital strife. “The most difficult match of love languages in my experience is when one person needs words of affirmation and the other person is not good at expressing love in words and has acts of service as their number one language,” says Amy Armstrong, licensed independent social worker and co-founder of The Center for Family Resolution.
Keresse Thompson, licensed clinical social worker and host of the podcast Diary of An Empath, agrees these two love languages can occasionally clash. “The words of affirmation partner just needs to hear validation,” says Thompson. “Whereas the partner of acts of service just wants their partner to go out of their way or do things that make their life easier.” Fortunately, healthy communication can fix this issue and allow both members of the couple to feel seen, heard, and appreciated.
The best thing about immersing yourself in the knowledge of the five love languages is that you can use it to improve your marriage—even if you feel it’s somewhat on the rocks. The easiest way to start is by determining you and your partner’s love language. Then, learn everything you can about each of those love languages. “Take time away, alone, or together to do some research and learn about your partner’s love language,” says Sophie Mona Pagès, queer, BIPOC relationship expert and founder and CEO of relationships app Campfire. “It’s also important to learn and gain a better insight into your own love language to be able to explain it much better.”
Then, get back together and talk. “It’s essential to sit down with your partner, discuss your findings, and ask the important question: How would you like me to speak your love language?” says Pagès. “These categories are mere guidelines; love languages manifest differently in different people, and you need to understand your loved ones’ individual experiences and needs.” Pagès notes it’s important to be vulnerable and honest during this step.
Finally, take action and continue to discuss your love languages and how you can better show affection toward each other. “Relationships are always a work in progress and check-ins are needed along the way,” says Pagè. “Every once in a while, schedule some time with your partner to sit and discuss how you’ve been doing so far at speaking each other’s languages and what you can do better going forward.” From there, you’ll be well on your way to getting on the same page and making each other feel more valued than ever.