PREP has identified 6 love/support styles based on a wealth of relationship research on social support. If you’re familiar with the popular book, “The 5 Love Languages,” you will notice PREP’s love styles are complementary, but distinct. As we explore the 6 love styles, consider which style(s) you identify with most, and pick-up some practical tips to support your spouse in their preferred love style(s)!
Love Style #1: Do
Does your spouse buy you extravagant gifts when you’d really just love some help with the laundry? We typically show love in the way WE want to be loved, but our good intentions can sometimes fall on deaf ears. Tuning into your spouse’s preferred love style will help you know the types of things you can say or do to really hit the mark for them.
If your spouse prefers a “doing” love style, they often want help! Lending a hand, like running errands or helping out with extra chores, goes a long way to easing their burdens and making them feel cared for. It doesn’t mean gifts or affection are meaningless to them. Rather, aligning your actions with their preferred style will help foster intimacy and deepen your connection.
Taking out the trash may not feel glamorous or romantic, but helping your spouse work through a long to-do list, or handling a dreaded chore, reminds them that both of you are in it together. That reassurance and support helps fan the flames for those with “doing” love styles.
Love Style #2: Be
There’s a saying, “The war for our hearts is waged on the pages of our calendar.” It’s true. How we choose to spend our time reveals a lot about our priorities.
A “being” love style is all about quality time – just being together. If your spouse prefers this style, think of ways to free up time in your busy schedule to show him/her that he/she is your priority. Remember, lack of time can be one of the biggest barriers to having fun in your marriage too! A small sacrifice of time, like skipping a dinner with friends occasionally or putting your work laptop away early some nights, would mean the world to them.
It doesn’t matter what you’re doing as long as you’re together and the time is distraction-free. Make sure to keep your gadgets out of sight and really offer your attention to your spouse. Even if you decide to just watch your favourite movie together and cuddle, protecting that time from outside interruptions and stressors lets your spouse know you’re genuinely engaged in the moment together.
Love Style #3: Give
Spouses who prefer “giving” styles feel most loved when they receive thoughtful gifts, especially around meaningful days in their lives, like a birthday or anniversary. To really show them you care, purchasing a hat or book that they are interested in would really excite them. A love note you wrote for them during your lunch break, or a gift card to their favourite store, may do the trick!
Giving doesn’t have to equate to a lot of money either. Thoughtful acts like buying a stalk of flower or grabbing their favourite breakfast on a Saturday morning, show genuine sincerity. Knowing their favourite breakfast place and regular order, along with the effort and time taken to pick it up and surprise them, makes breakfast time much more meaningful. Sincere gestures like these make spouses with a “giving” love style feel like the center of your universe.
Love Style #4: Encourage
Encouragement is underrated. We are often quick to praise children for their effort or dedication when they try new or hard things, but we forget adults need that validation and support too. Those with an “encouraging” love style are supportive when we have exciting new ambitions. They build us up when we feel insecure, and they help us reach outside our comfort zones.
Sometimes we need a nudge to take a big risk or make a tough choice, and encouraging spouses thrive in that department. If your spouse needs encouragement during difficult times (and we all do to some extent!), make sure you let them know you recognise their efforts, talents and unique qualities.
If your spouse is frustrated with a difficult project at work, or overwhelmed with a lot of extra responsibilities at home, take some time to reassure them they’re doing a great job. Remind them of their strengths and offer words of support so they know the hard work they are doing is noticed and valued. Those gentle reminders, offered in love, can help us press on, no matter how challenging the circumstances.
Love Style #5: Talk
Sometimes it’s nice to be the focus of attention during a conversation. Those with a “talking” love style really appreciate it when you check in, ask for their opinions, and express your feelings for them verbally. They fall in love between the ears, so to speak. Ask about their day and listen intently as they share, or ask for their input on an issue at work. Most importantly, make sure to talk to one another the way you’d talk to a good friend – be kind and stay curious and engaged! Spouses with “talking” styles love that opportunity to connect through discussion.
How nice does it feel when someone we love asks for our opinion and really wants to hear our response? Or asks about our dreams, fears, or goals with genuine curiosity? By contrast, cutting your spouse off mid-story, playing with your gadgets as they speak, or not asking them questions at all can be especially hurtful to a spouse with a “talking” love style. When we have really engaged conversations, distraction-free, we let our spouses know they’re treasured, and their feelings, opinions, and advice are valued. In fact, sometimes words are all you have to express your love, and often we do not tell our spouse we love them, appreciate them, and care for them when we talk.
One pitfall to look out for is when your spouse is upset about something, too often we offer solutions rather than just listening, and this is especially important for those with “talking” love styles! Instead of rushing to solve their problem, really listen and try to understand their perspective.
Love Styles #6: Touch
Along with Talk, Touch is one of the most overt expressions of love. Spouses with the “touching” love style really enjoy, and often need, physical contact. A kiss on the forehead before work might give them the confidence to jumpstart their day, or a back rub after a stressful meeting might help them decompress. Whether the touching is playful, comforting, or romantic, those physical exchanges are their preferred love currency.
One thing to work out when it comes to physical touch is how comfortable you each are with public displays of affection (PDA). Spouses may disagree about PDA, with the person who has Touch as a top love style being more comfortable. Thus, clear and open communication will be important here.
If physical touch isn’t your default love style, you may have to challenge yourself to walk across the room to hug your spouse, or find other ways to express your affection for them using Touch. Small physical touchpoints throughout the day - like holding hands, cuddling while you watch a movie, or kissing them before they leave for work - touch them on a much deeper level, showing them they are cared for, desired, and cherished.
If you like what you read, check out other mini marriage PREP tips here!