July 20, 2020

Acts of Services Love Language

Photograph of a Couple in Love

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With the Acts of Service Love Language, individuals tend to feel loved when you do things for them that you know they would like. Acts of service may be doing chores around the house, helping your partner study for a test or prepare for a presentation, or even cooking dinner for your partner and making sure to eat dinner together. Actions like this have a large very impact on making your partner feel loved when their love language is acts of service. As with all the love languages, acts of service do not have to be huge–like redoing the roof of the house. They can be small actions such as opening the door for you partner, helping clean up after dinner, or making the bed everyday. In fact, frequency of small acts of service could make a bigger impact on your partner than the large household projects. If this is your partner’s love language, try to find small things to do for them often. (Wondering about the difference between primary and secondary love languages?? Click here to learn more.)

The key is to do the things that are most important to your partner. So how to you determine what is most important? Try listening to the things they ask you to do the most, or the things they get critical about the most. Criticism in relationships is often related to deep emotional needs; your partner is often pleading for you to love them when they get critical. Instead of shutting down and getting defensive, it will be helpful for you to ask them “this is clearly important to you, help me understand why this is so important to you”. Over time, this will likely help your partner feel heard and understood, and then they will likely become less critical and make requests instead of demands.

If your love language is acts of service, then you may sometimes feel really frustrated and unloved when your partner does not do the things you ask them for. It is important to remember that love is a choice and can’t be forced. Sure, if you ask over and over again, you partner may eventually give in and do what you want. However, it won’t be out of love and may cause you both to feel further disconnected. No matter how much you ask, you cannot create your partner’s willingness to show you love in the way you desire it. They may still love you but be showing it in different ways–and I fully recognize that it may feel very empty for you if that is happening. In the end, all anyone can ever do is be grateful and appreciate when a partner chooses to show you love.

​If you are a partner of someone whose love language is acts of service, then you will also want to remember that you have a choice daily as to whether or not to love your significant other. You can choose to do this in any way you like, but you will get the most bang for your buck by meeting your partners requests as this will be more effective at making them feel emotionally loved.

Couple Walking Holding Hands in Mountain Landscape

Tips for Speaking the “Acts of Service” Love Language

If your partner’s love language is acts of service and yours isn’t; then you are probably wondering how to actually go about speaking their love language. Here are some tips:

  • Make a list of the things your partner has asked you to do recently and pick one to do.
  • Ask your partner to make a list of things that they would like you to do over the next month and to prioritize the list for you. Then use the list to help you plan out ways to show them love.
  • Do something your partner has been critical about as this your partner trying to tell you what is important to them.
  • If you have the money for it, consider hiring someone to help with the requests your partner has been making—maybe yard work once a month or house cleaning.

Deployed or Long Distance:

  • If you are at home, do house projects and send before and after photos to your partner; try to get things done on your own so your partner doesn’t need to do anything on the “honey-do list” when they get home.  
  • If you are the one deployed or you are a long distance couple, arrange for things to be taken care of so your partner doesn’t have to worry about it—like arranging for the lawn to get mowed, childcare, a cleaning service, etc.

Things to Avoid with the Acts of Service Love Language

Since actions are so important for the person whose love language is acts of service, ignoring their requests will have a negative impact of causing them to feel emotionally deprived of love. You’ll want to avoid:

  • Ignoring requests from your partner.
  • Prioritizing the requests of other people over your partner’s requests.
  • Lack of follow-through. If you say you are going to do something, do it.
  • Assuming the things you are doing daily is what your partner wants you to do. If you cook dinner every day, but what your partner really wants is help with the kids, then their love tank will still feel empty because you aren’t doing the things they are longing for. The best thing is to ask them what you can help with and listen to their requests.

​We all need love relationships to thrive in life. Part of having love relationships is knowing how to show love to others in a way that they will receive. For someone whose love language is acts of service, then responding to their requests show them you care and helps your partner’s love tank feel full. When the emotional love tank is full, your partner will know they are important to you.

Outdoor Protrait of Black African American Couple

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    About Author

    Elizabeth Polinsky is a Certified Emotionally Focused Couple Therapist (EFT) providing EFT marriage counseling in the states of Virginia, Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina, Arkansas, and Nevada. She also provides EFT training and supervision to therapists looking to become certified in EFT Couple Therapy. As a military spouse, she has a special passion for working with military and veteran couples, and is also the host of The Communicate & Connect Podcast for Military Relationships.

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