Showing Him You Care When His Love Language Is Acts of Service

Showing love through acts of service takes effort, and most of all vigilance.
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Monica Gabriel Marshall
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Showing love through acts of service takes effort, and most of all vigilance.
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Art Credit: Christie Graham

There are few things more gratifying to a woman in love than finally discovering the key to her man’s heart—and I’m not just talking about his favorite dish.

Identifying and speaking your man’s love language—the form of verbal or non-verbal communication that makes him feel most loved—is arguably the most important step to building and sustaining emotional intimacy.

Dr. Gary Chapman, author of The 5 Love Languages, says that there are five ways in which a person feels or receives love: words of affirmation, physical touch, quality time, receiving gifts, and acts of service. Understanding how your partner receives love is the first step in learning how to properly express to him the love that you feel. There's nothing worse than kind words falling on deaf ears, so take the time to figure it out!

Now before you check “physical touch” and call it a day, remember that physical touch (and that doesn’t only mean sex), is not a catch-all primary love language for men. Sure, few men will say no to a kiss or cringe at a gentle touch to their arm, but when it comes to truly feeling loved, it may be that making the bed or doing the dishes is what really gets the job done.

"Acts of service” are probably the most time-intensive of the five love languages. You can’t just say a kind word or give a quick kiss. Showing love through acts of service takes effort, and most of all vigilance.

Finding opportunities to serve your boyfriend or husband can be hard, especially if he's a chivalrous guy. So if you suspect that “acts of service” are your partner's love language, here are five easy ways you can make him feel all warm and fuzzy inside.

01. Cover the bill.

Even if your guy is the old-fashioned sort who likes to be treat his lady when you're out on a date, you can still buy him a coffee every now and then. Even a knight in shining armor will permit it once in a while! Look for opportunities to sneak your credit card in before he can get to it, and let him know it’s because he treats you so well.

02. Help him with chores.

This is trickier when you're only dating, so be sensitive to acts of service that might cross personal boundaries. (Hint: he probably doesn’t want you cleaning his room.) But little things, like offering to grab something for him at the grocery store, picking up his dry cleaning because you're “just around the corner anyway,” walking his dog, surprising him by giving his car a wash, or even just loading his dishwasher are all ways to show love.

03. Pack him lunch.

Nobody likes packing their lunch for the next day, which is why so few people actually get around to doing it. Bag up a delicious meal that features a few of his favorite things, and give it to him the night before. Your man will head to work the next day feeling cared for and looking forward to a change of pace from the same old sandwich his picks up every day at noon.

04. Use your strengths.

When you think of acts of service it can be tempting to fall back on traditional gender roles. We let men shovel our driveways, lift heavy objects, and escort us home late at night because these are often acts of service that complement their strengths. So how can you use your strengths to serve your man? You may not be physically stronger than him (or maybe you are), but perhaps you can advise him on computer problems or help him prepare for a presentation at work. Even just offering an attentive ear can be a way to help him out when he needs to talk something through. It can be hard for some people to ask for assistance, so offer where you can. Let him know that it makes you happy to be able to use your gifts and it will be easier for him to oblige.

05. Think of the little things.

Maybe his hands are constantly dry during the winter months, or he keeps forgetting his sunglasses in the summer: remember to grab a small tube of hand lotion or a pair of backup shades when you head out for the day. Thinking of his needs, even if they're little things, is an act of service and an act of love. Another idea could be to mark his mother's birthday on your calendar (if he has the tendency to forget), and remind him a couple days before by giving him a nice piece of stationery. Treat it casually by saying something like "I thought you might be able to use this for your Mom's birthday next week."