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Helping with laundry chores

Do you feel like your partner isn't meeting your needs, even when they say they love you?

It's possible that you both have different love languages! For some people, words of affirmation or physical touch are enough to feel loved and appreciated. We believe that all couples should spend time together, but for others, it's all about service.

If you're someone who feels extra loved when your partner takes care of practical tasks or does things to make your life easier, then the Acts of Service love language might be your thing. Keep reading to learn more about what this Love Language entails and how to use it to strengthen your bond.

A Love Languages recap

We’ve been going over The 5 Love Languages for 5 weeks now! But maybe you’re just joining us today! In that case, here is a short synopsis of the book:

Gary Chapman, a marriage and family counselor and author, identified 5 main ways that people give and receive love, which he explains in his book The 5 Love Languages. He explains how learning to speak your partner's love language is crucial for their emotional security in the relationship.

Our emotional gauge of how well we are being loved is our "love tank," which can be depleted by neglect or love expressed in a way that does not resonate with us. Something hurtful, neglectful or not in our love language can cause a withdrawal from our love tank. The deposits come when our spouse clearly communicates their love to us in a way that we can relate to and understand.

Check out our post, The Power of Love Language Loving, for a more detailed summary and review of the book.

We’re breaking down all 5 love languages into easily understood details and actionable ways you can express them right away. We also include a few behaviors you should avoid that make deep withdrawals from your spouse’s love tank.

We’ve explained Words of Affirmation, Quality Time and Physical Touch. On to Acts of Service!

What are Acts of Service?

Not all Love Languages really relate to the saying “actions speak louder than words.” But Acts of Service does!

Someone who speaks the Acts of Service Love Language is waiting to experience your actions. Their love tanks get filled when you ease their responsibility and burdens or thoughtfully finish a house project that has been on the to-do list forever. It’s quite normal for Acts of Service to rely on helping with each other’s chores, but it’s certainly not limited to that. The best way to find out how to serve them is ask!

This doesn’t mean that you are now your spouse’s workhorse or doormat. Your decision to serve your spouse through Acts of Service needs to be a mindset shift. You may have to change your preconceived ideas of the roles you have assumed in your marriage.

Learning to speak their Love Language is choosing to meet their emotional needs. And ultimately that is more important than which spouse “should” be in charge of doing the dishes.

Check out our 15 ways you can love your spouse through Acts of Service. (Download a printable version here)

A spouse sweeping the floor for their spouse

15 ways to love through Acts of Service

  1. Get the coffee ready in the morning

    Or tea or breakfast. Whatever your spouse uses to start their day, get it ready for them!

  2. Ask them “What is adding to your stress level right now?”

    Don’t wait for them to tell you what they need. Be the one to ask and be ready to act on it. If they don’t answer with something you can act on, then you can ask what would help relieve that stress. Stress levels change and so can their needs, so don’t be afraid to ask.

  3. If you know what it is, do it without being asked

    I know it’s a little nuanced, but sometimes you can SEE that your husband is bogged down with work and his normal chores are falling behind or your wife is snuggling with sick kids and the dishes are piling up. When you can see it, just do it. If you don’t see it, then ask how you can help!

  4. Help them get ready on important days

    Have a big meeting? Iron their shirt and lay it out for them. Leaving on a trip? Put their bags in the car while they finish their checklist. Running late for a wedding? Get the kids dressed and ready at the door.

  5. Help bring the groceries in

    Meet your spouse at the door and help carry everything into the house. Bonus points if you also help unload everything!

  6. Start their car in the winter

    Before they head out the door, beat them to the garage and get their car warmed up for them. This MIGHT be a totally independent love language for those of us in Minne-snow-ta!

  7. Get their car cleaned inside and out

    While we’re on the topic of cars, this can be a huge blessing. Most men enjoy a clean car and almost ALL the moms we know want their cars cleaned, but just don’t have the time to get it done. Take it through the car wash, vacuum it out, wipe down the dash and clean out any crumbs left by little mouths.

  8. Make their appointments for them

    Dentist, yearly physical, haircut, order car tabs - any appointment they have to remember to schedule, just do it for them!

  9. Check off that “honey-do” list

    Not many people are good at everything so couples often have to-do lists for each other. Some people call them “honey-do” lists. Creating one can be helpful for the other partner to know exactly what they need to accomplish. Start checking off their list with a happy attitude!

  10. Respond quickly with a positive attitude when they need something

    Sometimes it’s not only that you're doing something for them, but the attitude that you do it in. Having a negative or “I’m annoyed” attitude will outweigh any Act of Service you are doing for your spouse.

  11. Change your behavior when it’s appropriate

    When you have conflict or are discussing your relationship during your weekly Connection Point, listen to your partner and consider changing the offending behavior. For a lighthearted example, if your wife has an Acts of Service Love Language and she is asking you to put the toilet seat down, try to remember to do it! In all seriousness, if their requested behavior change is warranted, consider working to change it. You can read our post on the importance of self improvement within marriage if you want more details.

  12. Say “Let me help you!”

    When you see your spouse doing a chore, join in!

  13. Ask them what’s most important

    Sometimes you might try to take a chore off their plate, but that might not be as meaningful as taking your kids to soccer practice. If your efforts aren’t as accepted as you had hoped, ask what’s most important. You might find that folding laundry is when they have a quiet moment to think and they don’t want you to take that over for them.

  14. Watch the kids so they can sleep in

    All parents of littles can benefit from a little more sleep. I think enough said!

  15. Do the thing they forgot to do

    We all have let things slide once in a while. If you recognize this happening, pick up the slack.

Things to avoid

In most cases, we’re never purposely trying to deplete our spouse’s love tank. In reality, they naturally empty over time. It’s definitely not enough to tell them you loved them on your wedding day and assume it stands until you tell them differently. You must continually renew and refresh their security in your love and avoid behaviors that quickly drain their love tank.

For Acts of Service, you’ll want to minimize the following behaviors:

  • Laziness

    Acts of Service is all about doing. If you understand what they are needing help with and are willing to learn to love them in this way, then you must kick laziness to the curb. If you’re not ready to get into motion right that second, decide the time you will do what is being asked of you and communicate that to them. Committing to a time will show your partner that you are committed even if you can’t start immediately.

  • Not keeping your commitments

    Another surefire way to NOT communicate love to your Acts of Service spouse is by not being dependable. If you say you’re going to do something for them and then never follow through, you will be withdrawing from their love tank and giving them reasons they can’t trust you.

  • Creating more work for them

    Are you the spouse that expects the house to be clean but doesn’t participate in the cleaning of the house? Put your dishes in the dishwasher, put your dirty clothes IN the hamper not next to it (or hang up the clean ones) and if you make a mess, clean it up. Don’t expect your spouse to do everything.

  • Checking things off the list with a poor attitude

    Attitude is everything. If you tell a joke said in a sarcastic manner your audience knows not to take you seriously. Likewise, if you tell your spouse that you will do something for them, but then complain about the work or how much you do for them, that does the same thing. Your effort to “love” them will not be taken seriously. So check the attitude!

  • Putting other people’s requests before your spouse’s requests

    Prioritizing your spouse and your marriage is an important habit to create in your life. If you find yourself prioritizing outside requests above your spouse’s, you might need to review and manage your boundaries.


We made a free Acts of Service printable list for you! Download it here. Stick it on your fridge or save the list to your phone - either way keep it as a handy reference while you become proficient in your new language.

Be sure to grab The 5 Love Languages book if you’ve never read it. There’s nothing quite like learning straight from the source!

Take the 5 Love Languages official quiz if you haven’t already. It’s much easier to get started when you’re not assuming anything!

Next week we’ll tackle the fifth and final Love Language: Receiving Gifts.

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CommunicationIntimacyLove LanguagesMarriage AdviceOneness
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