Learning your partner’s love language can save you money

Give a gift that counts not costs

Knowing your partner’s “love language” can save you strife and definitely money – and not only on relationship counselling. 

Gifts are not the only way to show love. Picture: 123RF/DOLGACHOV
Gifts are not the only way to show love. Picture: 123RF/DOLGACHOV

Knowing your partner’s “love language” can save you strife and definitely money – and not only on relationship counselling. 

Love languages are ways to express and experience love, according to marriage counsellor Dr Gary Chapman, whose 1992 book The Five Love Languages has sold over 12 million copies and been on the New York Times best-seller list for the past decade. 

The love languages, according to Chapman, are: quality time, physical touch, acts of service, words of affirmation and receiving gifts.

It’s worth considering your partner’s love language before you splash out or dive into debt to fund an expensive Valentine’s Day gift or celebration tomorrow.  

People whose love language is quality time love nothing more than when you generously give of your time to them and are fully present in the moment. For them, love is undivided attention, active listening and full focus. They find it deeply hurtful if you’re sharing time with them but you’re dialled out or distracted. 

If this is your partner’s love language, you could take a walk together, listen to beautiful music or cook a meal together, says money coach Winnie Kunene. “Appreciate the moment. Connect and realign. Discuss your relationship goals.”

This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t treat your partner to some Valentine’s Day pampering. It just means it might cost you more time than money.

If you do decide to spend money, work within your budget, Kunene says, and if you have to use your credit card, understand the opportunity cost – or what you could have done with that money instead. The cost of credit can also ultimately put a strain on your relationship, she says.

For those who thrive on physical touch, nothing says I love you like regular, unsolicited physical displays of affection, even if it’s hand holding or a hand on the back. If those who need love in this way don’t get it, it can leave them feeling neglected or even abused, Chapman says.

Be sensible. Be creative. Find an affordable way to make your Valentine feel special.
John Manyike, the head of financial education at Old Mutual

For people who love to be served, actions speak louder than words. If you do anything to lighten their load, you will score big points, be it a small gesture like making them a meal, doing the dishes or relieving them of a chore; anything that will save them time and effort. Your service demonstrates to them that you love and value them.

For those who need words of affirmation, encouraging words have the power to build them up like nothing else can, and when you use words to validate them, they thrive. But the opposite is also true. Insults and harsh words can inflict deep wounds.

The most misunderstood love language is receiving gifts. Referring to be loved in this way doesn’t make you materialistic. Chapman says it’s not so much about the gift itself as it is about the love communicated by the gift. 

The perfect gift for someone who experiences love in this language could be a pot plant or a pair of running socks. It needn’t be an expensive spa voucher or designer clothes.

But beware of giving a thoughtless gift or gifting with the wrong motive, for example giving your girlfriend double tickets to the final match in the Rugby World Cup, knowing that she’d rather prefer to eat roadkill than watch rugby.

Also be mindful that you can hurt those you love when you give love in your primary love language instead of in the recipient’s. If your partner’s love language is receiving gifts, think carefully about the small things that they need or want, and buy what you can afford. Remember, it’s the thought that counts and that love can’t be bought. 

John Manyike, the head of financial education at Old Mutual, says using credit to indulge in unplanned spending to please your partner will cost you in the long run. “Be sensible. Be creative. Find an affordable way to make your Valentine feel special.”

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