Dr. Gary Chapman, a Christian family counselor and author, has developed a relationship-building program called the 5 love languages. Love languages are defined as verbal and non-verbal communications between couples which improve the mental and physical well-being of both partners. These mutual expressions and actions help to build up a nurturing environment in which couples can improve both their emotional and physical intimacy levels.
The first of the five love languages includes words of affirmation. These words go far beyond a perfunctory "I love you" ritual, and include specific recognition of a partner's contributions to the relationship or the household or a career. The point of the exercise is to provide enough positive affirmation of a partner's self-worth to motivate that person towards even more personal growth. By telling a partner or friend or co-worker how much you appreciate his or her efforts, you are speaking in a language he or she can understand.
The second of the five love languages involves spending quality time with a loved one. This means setting aside a meaningful amount of personal time in which the friend or partner receives your complete and undivided attention. The idea is to have substantial conversations with another person, or take the time to indulge in a mutual interest, such as a movie or a hobby. Quality time can build up intimacy and trust in any relationship, romantic or otherwise.
Receiving gifts is the third component of Chapman's love languages. Almost everyone enjoys receiving personalized gifts from loved ones, and a surprise gift can be even more special. The ritual surrounding the presentation of a gift is often as satisfying as the gift itself. Some gifts are not necessarily tangible, but a spouse or friend can contribute a gift of time or a gift of their unique talents.
The fourth of the five love languages involves acts of service. A partner may volunteer to clean the house before the other partner returns home from work. A husband may decide to convert a garage into a craft room so his wife can pursue her interests and hobbies. The most important idea behind an act of services is that it must be unconditional and free of ulterior motives. A quid pro quo arrangement is not considered a true act of service.
The final element of the five love languages is physical touch. This is not limited to intimate touching of a romantic or sexual nature, but basic physical contact between two people. A back rub following a hard day at work would be an example of a positive expression of love language. A spouse may spontaneously scratch the other's back, or a father may give his son an affectionate pat on the shoulder after a good sports play. The point of physical touch is to satisfy the basic human need for close contact with others. People who feel isolated from others physically may begin to feel isolated on other levels as well.