The Art of Appreciation, Part 2

Photo: Emily Faulknor Photographers,

Take a moment to ponder when you feel most loved by your partner. In those moments there is likely a sense of being seen, an expanded quality in the heart and a relaxation in the body. This quality of receptivity occurs when two people meet in the field of appreciation. When this happens, both parties experience a deep sense of satisfaction. Love prevails!

In Part I of this article (June 2011), we focused on the importance of daily appreciation between couples and how to master the art of verbal appreciation, expanding it to include the entire family. Simple to more formal forms of “Thank you” are essential, yet they are just one aspect of acknowledging each other.

I once worked with a committed couple who felt totally exasperated in their inability to connect. “He hardly ever appreciates me or tells me that he loves me,” she complained. He threw his hands up in the air and exclaimed, “What? I just bought you a whole new stereo system for your car and paid for you to take a spa day for yourself!”

What he didn’t know was that his gestures of love were interpreted by her as forms of distancing instead of connecting. While he was busy showering her with goods and services, what she most wanted was his undivided attention. How many times have you tried to express your love to your partner and felt unacknowledged? If you perpetually miss the mark, it may be a case of “it’s not what you’re saying, but how you’re saying it.” This can be true with children as well.

Dr. Gary Chapman has devoted an entire book to this topic called The Five Love Languages. He outlines five ways that people like to receive love. We all have our favorite forms, and if our partner is not adept in our preferred “love language,” disappointment can result.  The following are his takes on how we most like to receive love:

Words of Affirmation

If this is your love language, unsolicited compliments mean the world to you. Hearing the words, “I love you,” are important – hearing the reasons behind that love sends your spirits skyward. Insults can leave you shattered and are not easily forgotten.

Quality Time

In the vernacular of Quality Time, nothing says, “I love you,” like full, undivided attention. Being there for this type of person is critical, but really being there –with the TV off, fork and knife down and all chores and tasks on standby – makes your significant other feel truly special and loved. Distractions, postponed dates or the failure to listen can be especially hurtful.

Receiving Gifts

Don’t mistake this love language for materialism; the receiver of gifts thrives on the love, thoughtfulness and effort behind the gift. If you speak this language, the perfect gift or gesture shows that you are known, you are cared for and you are prized above whatever was sacrificed to bring the gift to you. A missed birthday, anniversary or a hasty, thoughtless gift would be disastrous (so would the absence of everyday gestures).

Acts of Service

Can vacuuming the floors really be an expression of love? Absolutely! Anything you do to ease the burden of responsibilities weighing on an “Acts of Service” person will speak volumes. The words he or she most want to hear: “Let me do that for you.” Laziness, broken commitments and making more work for them tell speakers of this language their feelings don’t matter.

Physical Touch

This language isn’t all about the bedroom. A person whose primary language is Physical Touch is, not surprisingly, very touchy. Hugs, pats on the back, holding hands and thoughtful touches on the arm, shoulder or face – they can all be ways to show excitement, concern, care and love. Physical presence and accessibility are crucial, while neglect or abuse can be unforgivable and destructive.

I recommend couples take time to rate these five love languages, in order of preference. Go to to take an online assessment. Then get together and explore your findings. With love language awareness, I find couples are more inclined to ask for more of what they want … and much better equipped to give it to each other too!


Joy Hosey
About Joy Hosey

Joy Hosey is a Relationship Guide and Coach living in Ashland, OR. You can find out more about her and her work at

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