Perhaps you have difficulty saying “I love you” or cannot seem to figure out the right way to show your family how much you care in a way that makes them happy.

According to marriage guru Gary Chapman, learning our love languages can help us understand how to effectively show affection for a happier relationship. What are these love languages and, how can we apply them in our daily lives?

In this #AskFFL interview, we speak to Families for Life Chairman Mr Ishak Ismail, to find out his views on how families can use these love languages to strengthen family bonds.

What are love languages?

“In his book titled, The 5 Love Languages, Gary Chapman explains that people generally express and receive love in five ways – through words of affirmation, quality time, physical touch, receiving gifts and acts of service," describes the father of two.

Even though there are five distinct love languages, Mr Ishak points out that an individual can have more than one preferred love language at any one time. How each love language is ranked also varies across individuals and is dependent on their unique likes and dislikes.

How to speak the five love languages to your family

To foster stronger family ties, Mr Ishak encourages families to find out their love languages if they do not already know them. This can be done through a simple test that is available online. “Often, it involves a little trial and error but, there is also no harm in asking your loved ones what their preferred love language is. Have open discussions about this and be sincere in trying to understand one another,” he advises.

Mr Ishak also emphasises that families should pay close attention to how their loved ones generally react to gestures of love. This helps them figure out what their family members prefer so that they can respond accordingly. “We naturally gravitate towards the person who shows us love according to our preferred love language because we feel like they understand us,” he adds.

Use love languages as a tool to form closer ties

For families separated due to work or the current Covid-19 pandemic, connecting with them through their love language can be an effective way to close the distance. For example, if a family member who is overseas values quality time, giving them undivided attention in the form of a phone call or video call can make them feel loved and appreciated.

While some love languages are preferred more than others, they are not set in stone and can change over time. Mr Ishak comments, “As your child grows from a kid into a teenager, physical touch may not be something they enjoy anymore. Our role as parents is to notice the changes and adapt to our child’s growing needs so that we can strengthen our bond with them.”

“Also, the best way to express love to your loved ones is to speak their love language without them having to ask. It is much sweeter when it comes as a surprise,” he adds.

The content of this article was adapted from an interview on Warna 94.2FM with Mr Ishak Ismail as part of the #AskFFL series.