Monday, April 28, 2008

She Loves Me, She Loves Me Not

She Loves Me, She Loves Me Not:
A Study of Chapman’s Five Love Languages
and Marital Satisfaction
Bradi Petersen
McKenzie Beus
Kenneth Jeppesen
Rachael Anderson
Weber State University

This study is focused on marital satisfaction as it relates to the effective communication of love. It has been hypothesized that there are five love languages, defined as: words of affirmation, quality time, physical touch, gift giving, and acts of service. In addition, individuals have a primary mode of love expression limited to those five (Chapman. 1992). Chapman posited that when a spouse communicates in their partners primary love language, love will be recognized and received, leading to an increase in marital satisfaction. Conversely, many marital issues may arise because couples are unaware of their partner’s primary mode of receiving love. A spouse may be communicating in a language that is native to them but nevertheless unintelligible to their spouse. Couples become frustrated as they show love and it goes unrecognized. Intimacy continually erodes as mixed messages lead to hard feelings and perhaps eventually divorce. Paramount to a healthy and happy marriage is positive communication patterns. Considering the significance the expression of love holds in the sphere of communication, it is of great value to determine the most effective means of its conveyance. Despite the wide-spread popularity and acceptance of Chapman’s theories, he has not cited any scientific research to base his claims on. Personal experience and anecdotal evidence from his years as a therapist are the foundation for his beliefs. While these direct observations have value, they cannot be considered conclusive proof. There is great interest among the researchers in testing his theory to determine its validity. This study’s method to gather data will be through surveys, given only to married individuals. Data will be collected at the workplace, Weber State University’s campus, malls, as

well as in local neighborhoods. Questions will be asked which have been designed to determine the person’s primary love language. A marital satisfaction scale will be added to measure relative happiness. The love language battery will include a section which measures the frequency that the love language behavior is manifested by the individual’s spouse.
By doing this study it is hoped that a correlation will be found between marital satisfaction and the congruence with sending and receiving one’s primary love language. It is anticipated that the data will generally confirm to the love language theory with the exception of its specific and stiff caveats; in that, healthy relationships with high levels of satisfaction will use more than one method of love expression. Furthermore, it is hypothesized that not all couples will receive love in the same way they project it. Studies of marital satisfaction which focus on such a specific aspect of the whole relationship are inherently limited. While we believe that love expression is one of the most major issues in overall marital satisfaction, it is only one of the myriad contributing factors.
Regardless of the findings, it is believed that the information gathered will be able to help couples communicate more effectively and strengthen marital bonds.
Literature Review
Expressions of Love
An expression of love is a behavior. It is a way to show someone that one loves them though actions, and not necessarily through words (Lemieux, 1996). Chapman has identified five specific expressions of love that he categorizes as love languages (Chapman, 1992). Research has been done to test whether there are specific expressions of love and if Chapman’s are considered to be legitimate actions of declaring ones love. Many have tested, and explored verbal

and nonverbal expressions of love, but the actual behaviors of love haven’t been looked at much. According to Lemieux, in order for a behavior to be considered as an expression of love, it first must be recognized and perceived by both parties as a behavior of love. It cannot be considered a behavior of love if a spouse doesn’t see it as that, or if the person giving it doesn’t give it with that intention (Lemieux, 1996).
Chapman proposed that people use primarily only one language in expressing and receiving love. The five love languages are: 1) Quality time, 2) Physical touch, 3) Acts of service, 4) Gifts, 5) Words of affirmation. Quality time is characterized as togetherness, and not in the sense of being next to each other but it has to do with focused attention on one another. A person who has quality time as their love language needs to do things with their spouse. They need to have quality conversations where they can share and express feelings. It is important for this person to be listened to, so talking while watching television is not considered quality time to this person. Examples of quality time would be going on walks together, having a picnic together, sitting up late on the couch and just talking without interruptions (Chapman,1992).
A person who has physical touch as their love language obviously likes to be touched, but in a loving way. There are touch receptors all over the body and touching them can trigger pleasurable sensations. The key to physical touch is knowing what one’s spouse prefers. Examples are holding hands, cuddling, tickling their back, or even giving back massages. But there are many variations in the way this language can be expressed. In regards to physical touch, it can be an adventure finding out all the pleasure places (Chapman, 1992).
Acts of service is also a love language which, when demonstrated, as with all other languages, fills what Chapman calls a “love tank.” Acts of service includes doing things for ones

significant other such as cleaning the house, taking out the trash or anything that their spouse does that they could use help with. Acts of service usually must be thought out and planned, and then done with a positive attitude and with loving intent. This demonstrates real love to the one with acts of service as their love language (Chapman, 1992).
Chapman also considers gift giving as a love language. For those with this love language, it does not mean that love necessarily is bought. Stopping off the side of the road and picking a flower would be quite meaningful to a person with this love language because the gesture has meaning. The one performing it would have to have be actively thinking about their significant others welfare and happiness. Examples would include making homemade cards, leaving a note on a partner’s pillow, small gifts regularly which have established significance, and surprise gifts at random intervals, or when needed. To this person the thought behind the gift is what is important. To them, these gifts are symbols of love, something that they can see and touch that demonstrates their spouses love for them (Chapman, 1992). The last love language is words of affirmation. What is important is using words that build up and encourage their spouse. People with this as their primary love language need verbal compliments and words of appreciation. They need to be told that what they are doing is good and pleasing to their spouse. To those with this language, if their spouse uses encouraging words, it indicates that they are taking notice of them. This concern lets them feel love (Chapman, 1992). Lemieux found that there are specific behaviors that people do to give and express love to others. People were anonymously asked to list behaviors that were considered expressions of love. After the data was collected, patterns of expressions of love were identified. Regardless of whether a person marked that they have never been in love, their answers were still consistent to those who reported to have been in love.

Lemieux reported five categories of love: 1) Mutual activity, which is doing things together such as dinner and going to a movie. 2) Special occasions, such as doing special things on birthdays and anniversaries, or getting gifts on Valentine’s Day. 3) Offerings, which was giving and receiving gifts. 4) Sacrifices, with was doing things for someone, like the dishes or the laundry. Finally, 5) Selfless was the name of the last category, which was willingness to do things with one’s partner that maybe they themselves didn’t like to do (Lemieux,1996).
Chapman’s Five Love Languages are similar to the expressions of love reported by Lemieux. Gift giving was quite similar to Lemieux’s special occasions and offerings. Quality time corresponded to mutual activity, acts of service matched up the characteristics of sacrifices and selfless (Lemieux, 1996). It was also found that Chapman’s love languages are valid expressions of love, and that people do in fact use these specific love languages to express love to one another. There was actually another category found while testing this. It was proposed that acts of service should be split into two categories, manual service and domestic service. This is most likely due to gender roles. Goff, Goddard, Pointer and Jackson (2007) also found that some of the expressions of love that they tested cross-loaded into two different love languages. A massage to some was considered gift giving instead of physical touch. This makes sense that if their primary love language was gift giving, then a massage would be considered as a gift from their spouse. Also doing things for me and caring for me when ill was measured under acts of service, but also matched up with the love language words of affirmation (Goff, 2007). While these studies have delved into the ways love may be expressed, none have measured marital satisfaction in relation to them. It is important to find connections between love expressions and to marital satisfaction.

The study of love must be approached with a broad inspection of its many variables rather than exclusionary focus on only factor. Impetus for this study is further bolstered by Marston and Hecht (1994) cited by Thieme (1996), love is a subjective experience. The way it is experienced will vary from person to person. As such, researchers must approach it not from preconceived notions, but from the experience of the test subjects. Hence, Veale’s (2006) study is inherently limited because it begins with the assumption that Chapman’s (1992) construct is a legitimate model. Whatever results coming from the study, they will be pre-biased by the nature of the questions. Establishing that there are only five love languages and that they are in fact separate and distinct with no overlapping features will limit the responses of the participants and perhaps eliminate altogether any contrary notion of the experience of love.
Marital Satisfaction
Considering the large percentage of marriages which end in divorce, it is imperative to explore the variable that improves marital satisfaction. Chapman, a marriage and family therapist, proposed his theory based on his years of couple counseling. He found in his own practice that putting the five love languages to work produced an increase in marital satisfaction based on couple responses. As couples in distress would come to him for help, Chapman would assess their respective dominant love language. After assessing them, he asked the couples to put it to the test. For example, if a man’s wife’s primary love language was quality time, than Chapman would ask the man to make a special effort to try and do things with his wife such as go on a walk, have a picnic, and spend time talking to one another. Consistently Chapman found that by doing this, the couple’s marital satisfaction would increase, or their “love tank” would be full. Chapman did not do research to prove his case, but through his experience based on

testimony of his clients, it was his opinion that focusing on the five love languages did improve marital satisfaction (Chapman 1992). It is appropriate at this point to argue that any marriage in distress would be positively affected if one or both partners made any sort of unusual extra effort in some area to further their partner’s happiness. When couples feel safe secure and relaxed in their marriage it is because they are focused on their partner’s general well being (Clark, 2006). They are knowledgeable about their partners needs and take action to care for that partner. High quality marriages are characterized by serving each other, sharing quality time, and by maintaining intimacy by self-disclosure and supporting each other in goals and pursuits. These behaviors are aspects of communal responsiveness or empathy. They are ways of showing love and support the definition of a loving relationship (Clark, 2006).
Couples will be more likely to be involved in communally responsive or empathetic and loving relationships when they have lower levels of rejection sensitivity and high levels of self esteem and intimacy. Intimacy influences marital satisfaction. When there is trust, and a sense that partners care for each other, the formation, maintaining, and strengthening of a loving relationship is promoted. Loving relationships thrive on trust. It is through trust that allows partners to view each other in a positive way and take on the role as a forgiver, as well as maintain comfort in the relationship. When these feelings are present then there is satisfaction in the marriage. Communal responsiveness is dependent upon both partners. There are more experiences of loving relationships when communal responsiveness is consistent and often repeated. Symbolic actions of love that establish good personal relationships are forgiving partners, supporting goals and activities, helping one another, and showing care through words. When partners express love to each other it is important that as they do so they recognize how it

is received. They then can know whether or not their partner is feeling loved and cared for. This influences marital satisfaction because part of having a satisfying marriage is knowing that you are loved by your spouse (Clark, 2006).
Symbolic Interaction Theory
According to White and Klein (2002), experiment they found that people may respond differently in various situations because they interpret symbols differently. Symbolic Interaction Theory is the assigned meaning that symbols have, given the culture or the person. So how is it that people obtain or create these symbols? Klein and White determined that people create and interpret symbols by socialization based on the beliefs and attitudes of the culture.
The signs and symbols must be commonly shared in order to be understood. However, these commonly shared signs and symbols vary greatly depending on the culture and also across people. In each unique culture and among individuals, meanings are assigned to situations, and unless the situation is understood and the stimulus, social behavior will not be understood. To understand the meaning, symbolic interactionists focus on how symbols are shared (White, 2002).
The Symbolic Interaction Theory relates to the five love languages because touching, words of affirmation, service, receiving gifts, and quality time are all signs that lead to the development of a symbol of love. In order for this symbol to be created, the signs must be agreed upon. In our society, there are expressions that stand as symbols for love that are commonly shared and understood. The interaction occurs when one is giving or receiving love in the five ways named above. The basis of Chapman’s theory states that certain symbols may be interpreted to be love, and others will not (White, 2002).

An individual with the love language of gift giving feels loved when they receive a gift from their partner. To these individuals acts of service may be positive, but not a symbol representing love, however, to those who have a primary love language of acts of service, doing the dishes would be received as a gesture of love. Hugs, kisses, holding hands and a loving touch are symbols interpreted to mean love by those that are classified under the love language of physical touch. Individuals vary on their interpretation of symbols which is why each individual needs to be shown love with the particular symbols or acts that fill their “love tank.”
The Symbolic Interaction Theory is constantly being used in people’s everyday lives. It is the interpretation of commonly shared signs and symbols throughout our culture, and other cultures abroad. Some symbols are universal and others may vary across cultures. Signs and symbols are associated with feelings. Behaviors and actions can be symbols and in this case certain behaviors symbolize love. There are many different ways this is accomplished. Supporting a partner in goals, helping each other, enjoying a shared activity, and listening are all behaviors that can symbolize love (Clark 2006).
Love Communication
The two components to communicating love are, love felt and given to a partner and the partner receiving it as love. Although one may give love, if it is not received, then the interaction doesn’t fulfill its intended purpose. In order for the person to receive the love, their partner must communicate in a way that conforms to the receivers love style. Love is communicated when one partner behaves in a way that promotes the other person’s well being (Clark, 2006).
In a relationship where there is trust that one’s partner is watching out for the other’s welfare, there is an opportunity to take attention off of self and focus on the other person. Love is

experienced only when trust manifests itself in a relationship. Knowing that both care about each other invites feelings of comfort to self disclose needs, feelings, and desires. This builds intimacy and promotes responsiveness. It is important to understand that responsiveness cannot be contingent on anything, or done just to get something back. Relationships are happier when partners do things without expecting anything back. A marriage is higher in the hierarchy of relationships and therefore there is greater responsibility to care for one’s spouse. In this type of relationship there is more self-disclosure and people seek support from marriage more so than any other type of relationship. (Clark 2006).
According to Duck and Pond, communication is a behavior by which love is communicated, and therefore should be studied further in its connection to relationships. Further, communication has three roles within a relationship: (1) talk is indexical; it reveals the emotional state of the relationship; (2) talk is instrumental; it influences relationship development maintenance, and dissolution and it is the “vehicle” through which relationship roles and the relational climate are negotiated; (3) talk is essential; talk pervades the relationship and thus is the relationship (cited by Thieme, 1996, p. 23). It is important to address the so called “third entity” of a relationship referred to as the “relationship culture.” An apt description is provided by Thieme quoting Wood (1982): “a unique, private world constructed and sustained by partners in a relationship.” (p.29). According to Duck and Pond, it is through communication that this culture is created (cited by Thieme, 2006, p.29). In a study of the subjective experience of love by Marston it was hypothesized that the most basic way that romantic love is experienced is by communication. More specifically, six main ways love is communicated were distilled from the study: traditional romantic, collaborative, secure, intuitive, active, and committed (cited by

Thieme, 1996, pg. 24).These manners of love expression and experience have many similarities with Chapman’s (1992) model. Secure love is shown through intimate conversation and acts of service. Active love most closely resembles quality time with common activities and emotional sharing being its primary features. The only one that could be construed as physical touch would be intuitive love, which includes nonverbal communication. Traditional love overlaps with acts of service as well as words of affirmation. Later research on this topic would yield only construct validity for four: collaborative, active, intuitive, and committed. Romantic love was further segmented by the researchers Marston, Hecht, and Roberts (1987).
In marriage there is a mutual desire to feel loved and to express it. The healthiest and most loving relationships are those where there is communal responsiveness and feelings to express empathy and be in tune with each others’ needs. There are individual differences in what people perceive as communal responsiveness when it is projected toward them (Clark 2006).
It is hypothesized that people do have particular expressions of love that they prefer although they may not fit as closely with the five love languages as Chapman has delineated them. Also, if that expression of love, or love language is acknowledged by both parties, and used in effort to show the behavior of love, the marital satisfaction of the couple will be higher.
The hypothesis will be tested by taking a convenient sample of married people ages 18-70. It is anticipated that questionnaires will be collected from Weber State University in the student service center and various departments across campus. The professors will be approached prior to class time to discuss permission for using the students as part of the sample

for the questionnaire. Questionnaires will also be posted online to be widely available for others from places of business, religion and by word of mouth for all who wish to participate in hopes of creating a snowball method.
In the introduction of the questionnaire the researchers, the reason for the research, instructions and the assurance of confidentiality will be stated. Participants will be informed that by completing the questionnaire implies consent. The questionnaire will be derived from questions from a love expression rating list complied by Goff, Goddard, Pointer and Jackson (2007) that was used in their study “Measures of Expressions of Love.” This rating list measures Chapman’s five love languages. The questionnaire will also contain the Seven-Item Short Form of the Dyadic Adjustment Scale, which will measure marital satisfaction among the participants (Hunsley, Best, Lefebvre, Vito, 2001). Goff’s rating list will be directed to measure if one has a preferred love language, and what that love language is. A Likert-Scale will also be used in accordance with Goff’s rating list to measure more in depth the love language of each individual (Glicken, 2002).
To increase validity, martial satisfaction will be measured at the beginning of the questionnaire using the Seven-Item Short Form of the Dyadic Adjustment Scale. This scale is valid based on the Chronbach Alpha score of .82, which determines that these questions do correlate with marital satisfaction (Hunsley 2001). If marital satisfaction were to be measured at the end of the questionnaire then questions concerning love languages might affect the participant’s view of the relationship. By using the scales and Chapman’s questions the correlation between love languages and marital satisfaction will be discovered.

Following the Dyadic Adjustment Scale will be a list of love expressions created by Goff, et al. The participants will be asked to rate each expression of love from 0 to 100 based on how important it is to them. 0 being not important at all and 100 being as important as it could possibly be. Another component will be added to Goff’s list to give more depth on each answer. Goff’s list will give a number on how important that expression of love is, but the purpose of the study is to also find if one’s spouse demonstrates this behavior or not. If the spouse does demonstrate the most important expressions of love, then he or she knows what their spouse prefers. The questions will be composed of two components. The first component will be Goff’s expressions, such as “spending time with each other.” That will be rated. Based on the ratings it will be determined what the participant’s primary love language is, or if he or she has many. The second component will be the Likert-scale used to determine the frequency of the preferred love characteristic. For example “spending time with each other” is rated an 88, then the participant will be asked based on a Likert-scale to determine the frequency of that expression of love that is being expressed by their spouse. By using a two part question there will be more detail and an in depth view of love languages and the effect on the individual.
By using this particular method of research it is anticipated to better understand the influence in using primary love languages in marital relationships on marital satisfaction. The questionnaire was designed to determine each individual’s primary love language, how often the spouse communicates the primary love language to him or her, and how much love is felt when the preferred love language is communicated effectively. It will also be understood if correct love language communication correlates with happiness and fulfillment within a marriage.

The sample consisted of 111 married people from Davis and Weber County in Utah. The ages ranged from 18 years to 56 and older, which consisted of 18-24 year olds (14.4%), 25-34 year olds (29.7%), 35-45 years old (20.7%), 46-55 years old (23.4%) and 55 years and older (11.7%). The participants consisted of 60.9% female and 39.1%) male. One person did not answer this question. People identified themselves by ethnicity with 108 Caucasians (97.3%), 1 Latino (.9%) and 2 Other (1.8%). There was a variety of yearly household income among participants which ranged from 3 people at 0-19K (2.8%), 29 people at 20-39K (26.6%), 19 people at 40-59K (17.4 %), 29 people at 60-79K (26.6%) and 29 people at 80K and up (26.6%). Two people did not answer this question. The participants range from less than 1 year married to 50 plus years married, 10 were married less than 1 year (9%), 30 were married 1-4 years (27%), 15 were married 5-9 years (13.5 %), 8 were married 10-14 years (7.2%), 7 were married 15-19 years (6.3%), 14 were married 20-24 years (12.6%), 13 were married 25-29 years (11.7 %), 5 were married 30-34 years (4.5%), 1 was married 35-39 years (.9%), 3 were married 40-44 years (2.7%), 1 was married 45-49 years (.9%) and 4 were married 50 plus years (3.6%).
Descriptive Statistics
The first statistical analyses performed were descriptive statistics for each of the composites of love languages. Table 1 and 2 show the mean, percentage and standard deviation for each of the variables.

Table 1
Descriptive Statistics of the Five Love Languages

Relative Strength of Love Language
Std. Dev.
Quality Time
Gift Giving
Acts of Service
Words of Affirmation
Physical Touch
Table 2
Descriptive Statistics of the Five Love Languages Demonstrated by Spouse

Relative Strength of Love Language
Std. Dev.
Quality Time
Gift Giving
Acts of Service
Words of Affirmation
Physical Touch

T-Tests were done to compare the composite of the DAS scale (marital satisfaction) and individual behaviors within each love language. A match is when the rating the love language

and spousal demonstration go together. When the rating of love language was 75-100 and the spousal demonstration was a 4 (often) or 5 (very often) there was a match. Other matches included: scores of 50-74 with spousal demonstration scores of 3 (sometimes) and scores of 0-49 with spousal demonstration scores of 1 (hardly never) or 2 (rarely). A mismatch is when the rating and spousal demonstration of the specified behavior do not connect. Mismatches included: scores of 75-100 with a spousal demonstration of any other score besides 4 or 5, scores of 50-74 with spousal demonstration of any other score besides a 3, and scores of 0-49 with spousal demonstration of any score besides a 1 or 2. The following tables are t-tests results for those love language behaviors that are statistically significant. Those behaviors that are not statistically significant are not reported. Love language gift giving was not statistically significant, therefore not reported. P-values were greater than .05 and whether spouses gave gifts or not, this did not influence marital satisfaction.
Table 3
Mean Comparison of DAS Score by Match of Love Languages

Mean for Mismatch
Mean for Match
Std. Deviation of Mismatch
Std. Deviation of Match
t of Match
P Value
Being there for special occasions
Being there in times of need

Being with me

Talking to me

Doing things with me

Sharing Feelings

Sharing Experiences

Sharing Thoughts

Time Together

Going Places Together

Understanding Me



Table 4
Mean Comparison of DAS Score by Match of Love Languages

Mean for Mismatch
Mean for Match
Std. Deviation of Mismatch
Std. Deviation of Match
t of Match
P Value
Words of Affirmation







Table 5
Mean Comparison of DAS Score by Match of Love Languages

Mean for Mismatch
Mean for Match
Std. Deviation of Mismatch
Std. Deviation of Match
t of
P Value
Acts of Service

Taking Care of Me When Sick

Table 6

Mean Comparison of DAS Score by Match of Love Languages

Mean for Mismatch
Mean for Match
Std. Deviation of Mismatch
Std. Deviation of Match
t of
P Value
Physical Touch

Holding Hands




Loving Touch



The tables above represent mean DAS scores for each statistically significant expression, standard deviations for matches and mismatches, t-values for matches and p-values for the matches. The mean of the matches and the mean of the mismatches are all significantly different. It made a difference in ones marital satisfaction when there was a match compared to when there was a mismatch. The data is pretty spread apart with a minimum standard deviation of 4.03, which is the match for “doing things with me.” The most spread expression is the mismatch for acts of service with a standard deviation of 6.14. The mean for the mismatch of standard deviation is 5.75, and the mean for the match of standard deviation is 4.39. All expressions were that were reported statistically significant.
Regression Analyses
A regression analysis was completed to analyze the variables of the composites of the love languages in relation to the DAS Scale (r2 = .195), (F=5.052), (p<.000). The r2 value represents the percentage that the composites of the love language predicts marital satisfaction, in this case the composites of the love languages predicts 19.5% of marital satisfaction. Standardized beta coefficients were calculated for the relationships between composite scores of love languages and marital satisfaction based on the DAS Scale. A positive and significant coefficient was found between quality time and marital satisfaction. (ß= .482, p< .003). The beta coefficient of quality time is positive meaning that as one rates quality time higher marital satisfaction increases. When participants rated quality time higher, their marital satisfaction increased. When rating the importance of the love languages, quality time was the only significant one reported. A regression analysis was calculated to analyze the variables of composite matches (match=1, mismatch=0) for love languages and marital satisfaction, (r2 = .367), (F=11.960), (p<.000). The r2 value of .367 means that the composite of matches predicts 36.7% of marital satisfaction Among the standardized beta coefficients that were calculated for the composite of matches for love languages, quality time was the only significant love language (ß=.471, p>.000). The beta coefficient for quality time is positive meaning that when there was a match between the rating of quality time and how often the spouse demonstrated quality time, marital satisfaction increased.
The third regression analysis was calculated to analyze the variables of composites of love languages and composites of the spouse communicating the love languages in relation to marital satisfaction using the DAS scale, (r2 = .579), (F=13.618), (p<.000). Significant standardized beta coefficients from composites of love languages in this analysis included words of affirmation (ß = -.364), (p<.003) and physical touch (ß=.241), (p<.044). The beta coefficient is negative meaning that as the composite score for both words of affirmation plus the spouse response for words of affirmation increased, marital satisfaction decreased. As participants rated words of affirmation or physical touch more important their marital satisfaction increased. As well, when spouse spoke or demonstrated words of affirmation or quality time more frequently marital satisfaction increased. Also, composites of spouse communicating quality time (ß =.343), (p<.006) and spouse communication words of affirmation (ß=.477), (p<.000) were significant standardized beta coefficients as well. Marital satisfaction increased when spouse communicated quality time more often as well as when spouse communication for words of affirmation increased. These were both positive beta coefficients.

Table 7
The Standardized Beta Coefficient of Love Languages in Relation to the DAS Score

Standardized Beta Coefficient
Quality Time
Match for Quality Time
Words of Affirmation
Physical Touch
Spouse Communication of Quality Time
Spouse Communication of Words of Affirmation

Table 8
The Multiple Correlations of the Love Languages, Matches and Spousal Communication

Composites of Love Language
Composites of Match of Love Language and Spouse Communication
Composites of Love Languages + Spousal Communication

This study was designed to look at the way couples communicate love to one another and measure their marital satisfaction based on those ways. Despite the desire to explore an open-ended approach to discovering how couples prefer to give and receive love, limitations necessitated using a more rigid format. Though not ideal, this format allowed a wealth of valuable information to be collected. Among the respondents ranking of important behaviors, on

a scale from 0 to 100, only two categories had an average score of 90 or above, “being there in times of need” and “forgiveness.” The lowest ranked item was candy at 30.6 with a standard deviation of 26.9. All other items in the gifts category, flowers, gifts, etc. fell into the 50’s or below with similar standard deviations in the 20’s. In aggregate, the next love language with the lowest over all scores was acts of service. At this point, it is vital to know that the scale used to assess the respondents so called love language, was not designed to pinpoint any specific mode of expression in Chapman’s rigid sense. The scale used contains variables which do not fit neatly into one of Chapman’s love languages but into were considered by Goff to overlap into more than one, such as “caring for me when ill” being counted as acts of service as well as words of affirmation (Goff, 2007). It is the opinion of the researchers, that certain items included in the list are indispensable to the health and well being of any marriage separate and removed from any consideration of “love language.” These indispensable items include “being there for special occasions,” “being there in times of need,” “sympathy,” and “understanding me.” Another important one is “forgiveness.” A marriage which lacks this important characteristic surely would be unhealthy and unhappy under any circumstances. Indeed, high quality marriages are characterized by serving each other, sharing quality time, and by maintaining intimacy by self-disclosure and supporting each other in goals and pursuits (Clark, 2006). In this way, Lemieux’s findings lend themselves more easily to the scale used in the survey, mutual activity, special occasions, offerings, sacrifices, and selfless (Lemieux, 1996). “Forgiveness” had an average rank of 90.5 with a standard deviation of 14.8. “Being there in times of need” was ranked 93.5 with a standard deviation of 9.7. In a more general sense, it is no surprise that items which could be considered “quality time” would be ranked as highly as they are. Further, considering that

marriage is a shared experience of shared experiences, “being there for special occasions,” should not be unexpected as a highly ranked variable. This study, as well as Chapman’s entire premise centers on the kernel of what a relationship is: communication. The idea that there would be five clearly demarcated “languages” which would so easily and neatly be categorized sounds more like an idea for a bestselling book rather than sound scientific research. While one might argue specifics on what qualifies time as “quality,” it is nonetheless central marital satisfaction. Communication between individuals will be through either verbal or nonverbal means. Nonverbal communication may be further split into segments such as physical touch, symbolic gestures, body language, and acts of service. With the exception of certain acts of service and symbolic gestures, time is a necessary part of the equation, and if communication is effective then surely the time was quality. The gifts category fell very low in perceived importance. Gifts in all their myriad forms belied themselves as the mere baubles they are; they had no significant impact on marital satisfaction. Yet when the rating of importance is compared to the frequency they are given, it seems that the significant other gives it more credence than necessary. Husbands may rest easy knowing that their perfunctory flowers, cards, and candy mean less than they thought. When a composite of the love languages are viewed together, both the personal rating and the spouses actions the R2 value was .579 showing strongly, that behaviors in these areas have great significance in predicting marital satisfaction. When viewed separately, the results are very interesting. Four of the ten areas significantly predicted marital satisfaction. The “composite of quality time,” approached significance with a Beta score of .208, (p=.095). The “composite of

spouse quality time” had a Beta score of .343 (p= .006.) Both the “composite of physical touch” and the “composite of spouse words of affirmation” scored high, .241 and .477 respectively (p=.044), (p=.000). Interestingly enough, the final significant score came from the “words of affirmation composite” with a score of -.364 (p=003.) Why would this show a negative correlation? It is believed that those who highly ranked “words of affirmation” may have an unusual amount of low self-esteem, so much so that it is manifested by neediness. Not having a healthy concept of themselves, independent from other people including a spouse, would cause them to rely on those closest to them for validation of their perceived self worth. Without a firm foundation of self-esteem, they would constantly be at the mercy of those around them, less likely to be happy and satisfied as an individual because they rely on external sources of affirmation. Compared to all other categories, “words of affirmation” proved to be the most powerful connection between marital satisfaction and communication. Even if a person receives frequent communication in a language other than their preferred one, satisfaction increases. Effort in the wrong direction is still good effort. These facts would tend to weaken Dr. Chapman’s premise and instead suggest that while people may prefer one mode of communication over another, love may still be effectively given and received to the betterment of a relationship. These love languages all play a part in the overall picture of marital satisfaction. As has been noted, quality time and its similar variables as well as physical touch and words of affirmation are the vital backbone to baseline marital satisfaction, while others serve to augment and embellish the relationship, adding variety and creating the optimal happiness. Looking at all the composite matches from the survey, the R2 was .367. The scope of this study is too limited to

fully validate or refute Chapman’s theory, it appears that the core of Chapman’s thesis has been affirmed; in general, couples have improved relationships when communication is given and received according through preferred and intelligible means.
As previously mentioned, it was hoped that this research would be able to measure the way which a person both gives and receives love. It was hypothesized based on personal experience of the researchers that there is not necessarily congruence between modes of projection and reception. Unfortunately, such considerations were impossible to measure due to space and time constraints.
Based on these findings in total, it seems that the communicatory factors which influence marital satisfaction are more gestaltic than Dr. Chapman suggests. Separating one component from the whole, unavoidably forms an incomplete picture. In general, communicating in any language of love, sans gifts and regardless of the preferred dialect, is tied to greater marital satisfaction. “Quality time,” “physical touch,” “words of affirmation,” and “acts of service” all have their place in a happy and loving relationship. With due respect to Dr. Chapman’s contribution to the field, it is the opinion of the researchers that his ideas, while having merit, fall short to adequately describe the complex dynamic of marital communication and its subsequent level of satisfaction.
With over 96% of respondents being Caucasian, this study is far from diverse along ethnic lines. The years married statistics fell almost evenly into half under and half over 20 years. The study, despite its limited scope manages to provide good breadth within the Caucasian demographic in regards to age, years married and income. Further limitations include the fact

that all respondents lived in the state of Utah, and the majority were women. Additionally, though not officially queried, a majority of participants were members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.


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