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How to Fill Your Partner’s Love Language Bucket (Without Spending a Dime)

The 5 Love Languages summary list, plus how to meet the needs of your partner's love language (without spending a dime).

My husband and I recently completed The 5 Languages of Love by Gary Chapman.

couple laying on bed woman's head on man's chest, text overlay "5 languages of love list plus examples"

It was recommended to us by our pastor in pre-marital counseling several years ago.

Though it’s taken a few years to get around to it (Paul likes to jest me about my two-year waiting list on books), it was well worth the wait.

The idea behind the book (get two copies so that you can read it together!) is that we each have a love language that we receive love through, as well as a love language that we speak to others.

You want to figure out what the other person’s primary love language is, and then make sure to fill up their love tank through this means.

It's especially important to take the time to do this after the honeymoon and lusting phases of a relationship have waned, which is a natural occurrence in every relationship.

One of the most impressive things about this book was when the author gave free or close-to-free suggestions for how to implement each of the languages in a relationship.

He was budget-conscious for the sake of all of his audience being able to better their relationships and marriages despite their financial circumstances.

I applaud him!

Even so, the building blocks to a good relationship and a great marriage do not revolve around money at all (even if you or your partner’s love language is Receiving Gifts).

For each of the five love languages, I would like to give free examples of implementation from the author as well as an example from our own relationship.

But first up, have you taken the Love Languages Test?

The Five Love Languages Test Online

Lucky for you, Gary Chapman offers the five love languages test online, for free! You can take it online, or download a free PDF version – it's up to whatever works best for you and your partner.

What you'll get from taking this online quiz are you + your partner's emotional communication preferences. How invaluable is that? To know which love language your partner prefers you communicate to them in so that they'll actually receive your love?

Emotional intimacy in marriage is soooo important.

The five love languages test online takes between 10 and 15 minutes, so it's perfect to get done over your lunch break. Then, you both can meet up after the kids go to bed, and talk about what you found!

Psst: here are some fun at-home date nights to pair your conversation with.

5 Love Languages Summary List

Wondering what are the definitions for the 5 Languages of Love? We'll go over that now, and then in more detail below.

Remember that the 5 Languages of Love list is just a summary – you'll definitely want to read the actual book for more insight.

  • Love Language #1 – Words of Affirmation: A person whose primary love language is words of affirmation feels most loved when they hear verbal compliments, verbal appreciation, or words that build them up.
  • Love Language #2 – Quality Time: A person whose primary love language is quality time will feel most loved when you give them your undivided attention.
  • Love Language #3 – Receiving Gifts: A person whose primary love language is receiving gifts is looking for you to give them something that symbolizes you've been thinking, loving, and caring about them.
  • Love Language #4 – Acts of Service: A person whose primary love language is acts of service means they feel most loved when you do something to serve him/her.
  • Love Language #5 – Physical Touch: A person whose primary love language is physical touch feels most loved when you touch them, physically.

Alright! You and your partner have both taken the online test, and you each know how you like to receive love.

Now I want to reveal to you ways to GIVE this love to your partner without spending a dime – no matter which love language they have.

I'm modeling these both off of suggestions from Chapman, as well as what we've done in our own marriage, FYI.

So they're real-life examples for you to use!

Note: some moments in a marriage or relationship are too private to share, and are heightened by being kept between two people, so Paul and I have put real thought into the examples we're sharing before actually sharing them. Please leave any examples you are comfortable sharing in the comments below.

Love Language In Action: Words of Affirmation Examples

red envelope love letter underneath windshield of partner's car

Words of Affirmation are words that build your partner up. These include verbal compliments, words of encouragement, and words of appreciation.

The good news is that words are completely free.

Chapman suggests that over the next month, compliment your loved one once a day and see if this fills up their love tank.

More Words of Affirmation Examples:

  • Slip a Note in their Lunch: Just write a few words on something you are impressed by that they did, or said, or who they are. Put it in their lunch.
  • Magnetic Love Notes on the Mirror: Use that old magnetic poetry kit you have hanging around (mine is from when I was a teenager!), and leave some amazing words of affirmation for your loved one.
  • Leave Shower Notes: I got a waterproof notepad from a mastermind I was part of years ago and stuck it in our shower to capture those ideas that sometimes bubble up. When my husband used it to leave that first love note to me? It was a complete game-changer for us. SO fun leaving notes and words of affirmation back and forth in our shower.
  • Leave Post-It-Notes on their Steering Wheel: Write several things you admire about your partner on Post-It Notes, and plaster their steering wheel one weeknight so that they see it early in the morning.

Example from Our Marriage: Paul has recounted to me on several occasions something that I said to him while we were first dating in Japan. He had been on leave for two weeks and was about to go back to work, and he was feeling nervous. I looked at him, and said, “you are going to do great.” He told me that it bolstered him and made him unafraid.

Love Language In Action: Quality Time Examples

husband and wife with coffee cups in morning, smiling at each other

Quality time is when you give someone your undivided attention. It is not spending time together while in front of a television, or while a laptop is open, or in between text messages. It’s not moments in passing, but rather moments when both of you are present for one another.

Chapman suggests many free opportunities to spend quality time together, such as sitting down and talking about each other’s days after work, spending time playing games together or with children, or going for a walk and talking.

More Quality Time Examples:

Example from Our Marriage: A while ago I noticed that we were in a rut of eating with the television on almost every night. It just did not feel right to me, and I actually started to miss Paul even though I was seeing him every day. After we talked about this, we began eating together several times a week in our dining room with no television and no distractions. Each time that we eat in the dining room we set the table, light the candles, and talk through our meal. It has made all of the difference!

Love Language In Action: Receiving and Gift-Giving Examples

husband and wife in car, husband driving and wife celebrating with new music he's uploaded for her

Receiving Gifts is a love language found in almost every culture of the world. Chapman explains that gifts are visual symbols of love. Things like wedding rings, anniversary gifts (and LDR anniversary gifts), or really anything at all that says to your partner, “I was thinking of you” fall into this category.

The good news is that even if you or your loved one’s language is receiving gifts, you need not spend a fortune on keeping their love tank full.

In fact, you don’t need to spend money at all.

Chapman suggests making a gift for your spouse, picking up a bunch of wildflowers on your next walk, or offering the gift of your presence at any event or occasion where you know your significant other would want you but that you typically would not like to attend.

More Quality Time Examples:

  • Set Up Something New for Them: We live in a world of ever-evolving technology, and it gets kind of overwhelming. You'd be a hero if you set up a new app, record a special show, or otherwise gift your partner something that makes their life easier.
  • Get their Favorite Meal Ingredients from the Grocery Store: Build one of their favorite meals into your next grocery shopping trip and make it for them one night.
  • Polish their Jewelry: Nothing makes someone feel like a million bucks than walking around with shiny jewelry that looks as good as the day they received it!

Example from Our Marriage: Paul and I took a wonderful camping trip along the Guadalupe River with a group of friends several years ago. Something I remember vividly from this trip, and that makes me giggle every time, is when Paul found a heart-shaped pebble, put it onto the top of his feet, and began walking towards me like a penguin male would do when courting a female (March of the Penguins, anyone?). It was a beautiful pebble, and it was a beautiful moment.

Love Language in Action: Acts of Service Examples

husband cooking dinner for wife and having her sample wooden spoon taste

Acts of Service are when you do something you know your loved one would like you to do. It is serving him/her in order to express your love. Doing acts of service requires thought, planning, time, effort, and energy, all of which communicate your love for another person.

Chapman offers up suggestions such as cooking a meal, washing dishes, keeping the car in operating condition, and printing note cards that say “Today I will show my love for you by…”

More Acts of Service Examples:

  • Clean Out their Car: You could tidy up their car, vacuum it, scrub the windows, and then leave a special note in there for them.
  • Weed the Garden Beds: Nothing says I love you more than coming home to cleaned up, and weeded garden beds everywhere! It takes a lot of work to maintain, and it really spruces the yard up.
  • Make the Bed and Spray Lavender: I have a confession to make: every morning, I make our marriage bed and then spray our pillows with lavender essential oil. I feel like it communicates my love to my partner (and hey, it just feels good getting into a made bed at the end of a long day, right?).

Example from Our Marriage: Something I get joy out of doing, and Paul gets touched by, is packing him a lunch several times a week. It could be leftovers, or perhaps something new made entirely for lunch, but I do it the night before so that it is ready for him to grab and go when he leaves for work at 6:30 in the morning. The rest of the nights he packs his own lunch, so he has not come to expect it (which I think makes all the difference). I enjoy leaving him little surprises in the lunch bag as well, like a piece of chocolate, or coffee-covered almonds I picked up while grocery shopping that he has never tasted before. Sometimes, I rip out an article from a magazine that I read and found interesting, or one I know he would fine interesting!

Love Language in Action: Physical Touch Examples

woman and man in pajamas looking out window, spooning each other, smiling

It can be argued that Physical Touch is the most ancient form of communicating and receiving love. And we’re not just talking about bedroom time, but also holding hands, kissing, embracing, patting each other on the back, etc.

Chapman suggests reaching out and holding your partner’s hand in public places, giving out random shoulder massages for a minute or so, or a few other choice ways to give the gift of love through physical touch…

More Physical Touch Examples:

  • Show PDA: We're not talking anything gross here, but you could certainly be intentional about grabbing their hand, squeezing their shoulders, and putting your hand on their back when out and about.
  • Give an At-Home Massage: A YouTube channel with free massage tips and tutorials for couples that I LOVE is by Denis Merkas. You can get his almond massage oil, or pick another good massage oil option up at Whole Foods.
  • Rub their Feet on the Couch: Heck, you don't have to do a full body massage with oil to make a difference. Just rubbing their feet while the two of you are watching an evening show goes a long way.

Example from Our Marriage: I had never been much for hugging, but Paul changed all of that. He turns into a giant teddy bear and just wants to give one of those delicious, love-affirming hugs several times a day. He’s so great at hugging, that now I seek him out for a good squeeze and oftentimes surprise him by a nice hug while he’s doing the dishes, or when he’s just stepping into the door. What can I say, he’s turned me into a softy.

Bonus Idea: Make Chef Curtis Stone's Homemade Chocolate Body Paint, grab a soft brush from the craft store…and have fun.

I would love to hear from you about the five languages of love in your own relationship!

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Amanda L Grossman

Personal Finance Writer and CEO at Frugal Confessions, LLC
Amanda L. Grossman is a writer and Certified Financial Education Instructor, Plutus Foundation Grant Recipient, and founder of Frugal Confessions. Over the last 13 years, her money work has helped people with how to save money and how to manage money. She's been featured in the Wall Street Journal, Kiplinger, Washington Post, U.S. News & World Report, Business Insider, LifeHacker, Real Simple Magazine, Woman's World, Woman's Day, ABC 13 Houston, Keybank, and more. Read more here or on LinkedIn.

Emily @ evolvingPF

Monday 15th of July 2013

Great take on this material! I actually wrote a post a while ago on PF and the 5 Love Languages (http://www.evolvingpf.com/2012/05/how-might-your-spouses-love-language-affect-your-finances/) but it's from a bit of a different perspective. I love your gift example!


Monday 15th of July 2013

Thank you Emily, and thank you for sharing your post. It was super cute of Paul:).


Monday 15th of July 2013

All free and super ideas, Amanda! Snuggles are the best! But we love conversation and telling each other how great we are too! Fun, fun, fun!


Monday 15th of July 2013

Thanks CJ! Snuggles are king:).