Everyone wants to feel loved and cared for in their relationship, but we all have different ways of showing love, as well as preferred ways of receiving love.
One way of showing love is through acts of service, which may be the preferred love language for some people.
If your partner prefers the acts of service love language, it can be helpful to know what this means. Also, get to know some excellent acts of service ideas you can use to show your love.
Love languages defined
‘The acts of service’ love language comes from Dr. Gary Chapman’s “5 Love Languages.” This bestselling author determined five primary love languages, which are the different ways people with different personalities give and receive love.
Oftentimes, two people in a relationship, despite their best intentions, could be misunderstanding each other’s preferred love language. After all, the ways of showing love are different for everyone.
For instance, one person may prefer the acts of service love language, but their partner may be attempting to show love differently.
When couples understand each other’s love languages, they can be more intentional about showing love in a way that works for each member of the relationship.
Here is a brief overview of the five love languages:
Words of affirmation
People with the love language ‘words of affirmation,’ enjoy verbal praise and affirmation and find insults incredibly upsetting.
Someone with this love language needs romantic gestures like hugs, kisses, hand-holding, back rubs, and yes, sex in order to feel loved.
Partners whose preferred love language is quality time enjoy spending time together doing mutually enjoyable activities. They will feel hurt if their partner seems distracted when spending time together.
Having a preferred love language that involves gifts means your partner will appreciate the gift of having you attend an important event with them, as well as tangible gifts like flowers.
So, if you are loving the idea of someone showering you with lots of gifts, with or without any occasion, you know what your love language is!
Acts of service
This love language is seen in people who feel most loved when their partner does something helpful for them, such as a household chore. A lack of support can be particularly disastrous for a person with this love language.
Out of these five love language types, to determine your preferred loved language, think about how you choose to give love. Do you enjoy doing nice things for your partner, or would you rather give a thoughtful gift?
On the other hand, also think about when you feel most loved. If, for instance, you feel cared for when your partner gives a genuine compliment, words of affirmation may likely be your preferred love language.
Getting in touch with your own love language and asking your partner about theirs can help you better understand each other and express love in ways that work best for each of you.
Now that you have an understanding of the five love languages, it is time to dive a little deeper into the love language called acts of service.
As experts explain, if your partner’s preferred language is acts of service, they will feel your love through the things you do, not the words you say. When you do something that seems to go above and beyond, they will feel cared for and respected in the relationship.
That being said, the acts of service love language is more than just doing your part in the relationship. A partner with this love language doesn’t want you to simply uphold your duties in the relationship; they want you to go that extra mile to do something that makes their life easier.
It should be something unexpected that your partner doesn’t always have to ask you to do. For example, you may surprise them by getting the kids up and ready for school and letting them have a little extra time to sleep in.
The acts of service love language comes down to this fact- for some people, actions truly are louder than words.
If your partner prefers to receive love through acts of service, you have probably heard them talk about the fact that actions speak louder, and at the end of the day, they will appreciate any acts you do that make their life easier.
A simple way to determine how you can be most loving and helpful toward your partner is to ask, “Would it help if I do _____ for you?” This allows you to determine what acts of service are most meaningful to them.
Another important truth to understand about the acts of service love language is that while a partner with this love language appreciates having nice things done for them, they do not enjoy asking for help.
This can be rather paradoxical; your partner wants you to help, but they want you to do so without them making any demands, as they do not want to burden you with their requests. If your partner seems to have the acts of service love language, you may want to make a habit out of asking them what you can do to help.
It is also beneficial if you can pay close attention to their daily needs, habits, and preferences so you can determine easy ways to jump in and help without being asked.
In summary, here are four signs that your partner prefers the acts of service love language:
They appear especially appreciative when you surprise them by doing something nice for them.
They comment that actions speak louder than words.
They seem relieved when you take a burden off of their shoulders, whether it is taking out the trash or running an errand for them on the way home from work.
They may never ask for your help, but they tend to complain that you never jump in to make things easier for them.
What to do if your partner’s love language is Acts of Service
If your partner prefers the Acts of Service love language, there are some acts of service ideas you can put into place to make life easier for them and to communicate your love.
Some of the acts of service love language ideas for her are as follows:
Take the kids out of the house for a few hours to give her some time to herself.
If she is always the one to get up early with the kids on a Saturday morning, let her sleep in while you make pancakes and entertain the kids with cartoons.
While she is working late or running the kids to their activities, go ahead and fold that load of laundry she started earlier in the day.
Ask her if there is anything you can stop and pick up at the store for her on the way home from work.
Acts of service love language ideas for him could include
Organizing the garage, so he has one less thing to do this weekend.
Taking his car through the car wash when you are out running errands.
Putting the trash out at the curb before he wakes up in the morning.
If he is usually the one to walk the dog every evening, take over this task when he is having a particularly busy day.
Receiving Acts of Service
While it is important to know what to do if your partner prefers acts of service love language, there is also advice for those whose own love language is acts of service.
Perhaps you delight in acts of service love language, but you and your partner are having a hard time understanding each other. Maybe your partner isn’t giving you what you need, or the two of you might be frustrated over miscommunications in the relationship.
If this is the case, it can be helpful to be more clear with your partner about what you need. You cannot expect your partner to read your mind.
As experts explain, you should not feel guilty about asking for what you need. If you prefer acts of service and your partner isn’t giving you what you need, it is time to ask!
Specify what would be most helpful to you, whether it is asking your partner to run the kids to soccer practice this week or requesting that they share in more household chores.
If you haven’t had a conversation about it already, you may have to simply explain to your partner that your preferred love language is acts of service and that this is particularly important to you.
If you feel that you are not receiving acts of service from your partner, it could simply be that your expectations are too high.
For instance, you may expect that your partner should just inherently know how to give acts of service to you, but if you are not asking them or communicating what you need, this expectation can lead to problems.
You cannot assume that your partner knows what you need, so it is important to communicate, so your partner is prepared to give the acts of service you would most like to receive.
Finally, once your partner does demonstrate an act of service, be sure to express gratitude for what they have done for you.
20 Acts of Service love language ideas
It is pretty clear that whether you prefer to receive acts of service or your partner shows the acts of service love language, and actions speak louder than words with this type of love language.
Anything that makes life more comfortable or takes a burden off of their shoulders will be appreciated by a partner who receives love through acts of service.
Having said that, it is still helpful to understand that acts of service look a little different for everyone, and these acts are not always about household chores.
Ultimately, you may have to ask your partner what is most helpful for them, but the following twenty acts of service examples can go a long way toward making your partner happy:
Make a cup of coffee for your partner in the morning.
Take a turn unloading the dishwasher.
Offer to pick up dinner on the way home from work if your partner usually does the cooking.
Fill up your partner’s gas tank while you are out running errands.
Take the dogs for a walk while your partner snuggles in on the couch.
Have breakfast ready on the table when your partner gets home from the gym in the morning, so he has more time to get ready for work.
Take care of mowing the lawn if this is one of your partner’s usual jobs.
Pack your partner’s lunch for the day.
Go through the kids’ backpacks and sort through forms and permission slips that need to be signed and returned to the teacher.
Clean the trash out of your significant other’s car.
Offer to take the weekly grocery list and make a trip to the store.
Clean the bathroom.
If running the vacuum is usually your spouse’s job, surprise them by taking on this chore for the week.
Shovel the driveway for him when he has to go into work earlier than you do.
Get the kids ready for bed, from giving baths to tucking them in with bedtime stories.
Take care of the stack of bills on the counter.
Instead of letting your spouse cook dinner and clean up the mess afterward, turn on her favorite show after dinner and take care of the dishes for a night.
Wash the sheets on the bed without being asked.
Call and schedule the kids’ annual checkups at the doctor’s office.
Take care of a project that needs to be done around the house, such as cleaning out the refrigerator or organizing the hall closet.
Ultimately, what all of these acts of service have in common is that they communicate to your partner that you have their back, and you’ll be there to lighten their load.
For someone with acts of service love language, the message you send by being supportive through your actions is invaluable.
If your spouse or significant other has acts of service love language, they will feel most loved and cared for when you do nice things for them to make their life easier.
These acts of service ideas do not always have to be grand gestures but could be as simple as making their morning cup of coffee or getting something for them at the store.
Remember that a partner whose love language is acts of service may not always ask for your help, so you may have to get good at knowing what they like or simply asking how you can be most helpful to them.
At the same time, if you prefer to receive love through acts of service, do not be afraid to ask your partner for what you need, and be sure to express your appreciation when they give it to you.
If you feel disconnected or frustrated about the state of your marriage but want to avoid separation and/or divorce, the marriage.com course meant for married couples is an excellent resource to help you overcome the most challenging aspects of being married.
Jenni Jacobsen is a licensed social worker with a master's degree in social work from The Ohio State University, and she is in the process of completing her dissertation for a Doctorate of Philosophy in Psychology. She has worked in the social work field for 8 years and is currently a professor at Mount Vernon Nazarene University. She writes website content about mental health, addiction, and fitness.
Licensed as both a social worker through Ohio Board of Counselors, Social Workers, and Marriage/Family Therapists and school social worker through Ohio Department of Education as well as a personal trainer through American Council on Exercise.