How do you communicate love? What makes you feel loved? Over 25 years ago, psychologist Garry Chapman pioneered a new framework for conceptualizing those questions, called ‘love languages’ (University Staff, 2020). It exploded in popularity, and for good reason. The question of how to most effectively communicate our love or care to others is relevant in all human relationships. It is relevant with your family, your friends, your colleagues, and especially in your romantic relationship. It’s even relevant when it comes to your prenup. Here’s a quick rundown of the five love languages:
Words of Affirmation: This love language belongs to people who love words! This person thrives off compliments, verbal support and admonitions of love, and/or written words of appreciation. Write them a song, or a poem, or just tell them often how much you love them and why.
Quality Time: Any time spent together in a way that makes you feel connected to your partner is quality time. For some this might be sitting on the sofa watching netflix and cuddling, while for others it might be a deep conversation or exercising together. The bottom line is that quality of time is more important than quantity.
Acts of Service: Do you really appreciate when your partner takes care of a task for you without asking, such as folding your laundry, making you coffee, or running an errand you were dreading? Acts of service just might be your primary love language.
Physical touch: This one is pretty self-explanatory. If your love language is physical touch, you feel most loved when you are being squeezed, caressed, stroked, hugged, and/or kissed. Find out the precise details and nuances of how your partner likes to be touched, and do it. Often.
Gifts: If you feel most loved when receiving a nice gift, this is your love language. This is the most misunderstood of all the love languages. It tends to be misinterpreted as being a materialistic, shallow, or greedy desire (Borresen, 2020). However, it’s actually quite the opposite. A thoughtfully-selected gift can make the receiver feel truly known, seen and understood on a deep level. Receiving gifts as a love language is rarely about wanting to receive just any gift, it is about wanting to receive items that have been chosen carefully based on the giver’s knowledge of their partner. It is also not about receiving expensive gifts. A gift could be homemade, small, inexpensive, or free; its value to someone with this love language is not dependent on its price tag.
Someone whose primary love language is gifts may also experience a lot of love and connection from the process of picking out and giving the perfect gift to their partner, as well (University Staff, 2020).
It is also important to remember that within each love language there is individual variety. For example, one person whose love language is words of affirmation might feel most loved when their partner verbally expresses love, whereas another might prefer to receive compliments.
It is important to reflect on your own preferences and share them with your partner, as well as ask your partner about theirs…and put what they say into practice!
Many people also have more than one love language. For most people, one or two are stronger than the others, but it isn’t uncommon to appreciate all five. Take this quiz to find out what your primary love language(s) is.
And, if you are reading this because you are looking to get engaged and exploring the next phase in your relationship, be sure to check out our advice on how to go from dating to engaged!
Love languages are important to understand as you enter the next big step in your relationship. So, what if you are not on the same page about a prenup? Check out our video on how a pre-prenup consultant may be able to help:
Love Languages and Your Prenup
What’s your partner’s love language? It’s something you should always keep in mind, but remembering it and acting accordingly can be especially helpful in ensuring a smooth prenup-writing process. Read on for tips for how to relate to your partner throughout this process, based on their love language. Side note, in case you are reading this because you are recently engaged… How do you plan your wedding and marriage at the same time? We have some advice on that.
Words of Affirmation
Since people who thrive on words of affirmation may do well with lots of compliments, reassurance, and fondness and appreciation expressed through speaking or writing, including lots of verbal love and affection in your prenup process can help enormously in infusing the discussion with a sense of trust and safety.
However, it is also important to consider that praise can actually be a communication barrier if the discussion is already tense. In some cases, people in high-stakes discussions interpret praise as a manipulative way of coercing the other party into doing what one wants. Additionally, if someone does not believe that what they are being praised for is valid, they may lose trust in the other person because they see the words of praise as untrue. For example, if your partner thinks he lacks organizational skills but you tell him “I really admire your organizational abilities”, he might reject the praise and trust you less as a result. This too is especially true if the person you are praising is already feeling stressed (Bolton, 2009).
Make sure you have invested the effort to gauge what kind of words of affirmation are likely to make your partner feel genuinely cared for, and when/in what form they are best expressed. Read our related blog on three things you should talk about as soon as you get engaged.
If your partner’s love language is quality time, make sure that during the timeframe during which you are arranging your prenup, you are also spending plenty of quality time together outside of those discussions. Find out what your partner considers quality time, and do that. Pay particular attention to what (if any) purely fun or lighthearted activities constitute quality time for them. This will balance out what can sometimes be a series of beneficial but energetically-taxing discussions. Read our related blog, talk don’t text here.
Acts of Service
Selflessness is everything to the partner who thrives on acts of service. Offer to research and compile a pros/cons list of different prenup services and attorneys. Organize the appointments. Read up on common clauses to include in a prenup. A lot of thought and intentionality goes into arranging a premarital contract; anything you can do to lessen the load for your partner will be strongly appreciated by someone whose love language is acts of service.
Premarital conflicts as well as other aspects of wedding planning can bring up tension or conflict sometimes, because they involve so many important and consequential decisions. A partner who experiences love most strongly through physical touch can benefit immensely from being lovingly touched both a. if the discussion becomes heated and b. If the conversation is not tense, as a way to bolster trust and increase the likelihood that the process will continue smoothly. Before you begin the process, check in with your partner about what kind of affectionate touch makes them feel the most loved.
When you talk about division of property or assets, consider a provision which would gift your partner something special with which you would be willing to part in case of divorce. Theoretically offering to part with something (you choose what!) might feel like a little bit of a stretch, but can bolster your relationship and lead to increased goodwill and understanding during the prenup process. For example, maybe you wouldn’t want to give something like, say, the lake house you are going to inherit, but you might be ok with theoretically parting with the kayak you bought which your partner loves and uses more often than you.
If you have important assets, you might also consider increasing your partner’s stake in some of them over time. Their stake might increase by a few percentage points with every five years of marriage, for example. Or you can include a clause which stipulates that after a certain number of years of marriage, separate property will become marital property (Hello Prenup, 2021).
The process of arranging for a prenup is itself an act of love; one recent article even frames prenups in terms of love languages with the title “Is Prenup the New Love Language?” (NAPD, 2019). Attorney Thomas D. Marks explains it as follows:
“Prenups help couples consider financial issues from the start which can actually help avoid some of the common financial pitfalls many couples fall into later after they say ‘I Do’. Financial disagreements can be one of the most common areas that lead to breakups of the marriage” (NAPD, 2019).
Therefore, a premarital contract can actually stack the odds in a couple’s favor and prevent a range of common issues from unexpectedly popping up later.
Devising your prenup also presents the perfect opportunity to talk about your needs and desires in relationships; it’s a fantastic time to talk about your love languages, what your partner already does that makes you feel loved, and what you wish they’d do more of. A prenup is so much more than just a contract. It is also an exercise in expectation and boundary setting, self-reflection and reflection on the relationship, and trust building. Use the opportunity it creates to open up communication about your relationship and your love languages.
Bolton, R. 1986. People skills. New York: Touchstone
Borresen, K. 2020. Of the 5 Love Languages, ‘Receiving Gifts’ is the Most Misunderstood. Retrieved from: https://www.huffpost.com/entry/love-languages-receiving-gifts-most-misunderstood_l_5fc95b04c5b6636e0923d420
Hello Prenup. 2021. Celebrity Lifestyle Clauses. Retrieved from: https://www.helloprenup.com/prenuptial-agreements/prenuptial-agreement-lifestyle-clauses/
National Association of Divorce Professionals. 2019. Is Prenup the New Love Language? Retrieved from: https://www.prlog.org/12754080-is-prenup-the-new-love-language.html
University Staff. 2020. The Psychology Behind the 5 Love Languages. Retrieved from:
Julia Rodgers is HelloPrenup’s CEO and Co-Founder. She is a Massachusetts family law attorney and true believer in the value of prenuptial agreements. HelloPrenup was created with the goal of automating the prenup process, making it more collaborative, time efficient and cost effective. Julia believes that a healthy marriage is one in which couples can openly communicate about finances and life goals. You can read more about us here Questions? Reach out to Julia directly at [email protected].