Loving By Serving

I received this Love Language Minute in my email inbox, and thought it would be a good article to share if you or your spouse have the “acts of service” love language.


Get the Facts
Before marriage we are carried along by the emotions of the “in love” obsession. After marriage we revert to being the person we were before we “fell in love.” This reality has implications for the single who is contemplating marriage.

Before you marry, you best find out what your potential spouse was like before the two of you “fell in love.” Ask  parents, siblings,  work associates and friends, but by all means ask questions. Did they have an anger problem? Where they depressed? Were they friendly of selfish? Dependable or irresponsible? Did they have a problem with alcohol or drugs? Get the facts. Don’t let the “in love” experience blind you to the truth.

Request vs. Demand
One of the five love languages is “acts of service”. For some people, this is their primary love language. However, sometimes people make the mistake of demanding “acts of service.” “If you loved me you would help me around the house.” But, true love is a choice and cannot be coerced. Criticism and demands tend to drive wedges.

With enough criticism your spouse may do what you want, but it will not be an expression of love. You can give guidance to love by making requests: “Would you please mow the grass?” But you cannot create the ‘will’ to love. Each of us must decide daily to love or not to love. If ‘acts of service’ is the primary love language of your spouse then ‘mowing the grass’ will be loves loudest voice.

Listen Closely
If your spouse often criticizes you for not “helping them”, they are telling you that ‘acts of service’ is their love language. People tend to criticize their spouse most loudly in the area where they themselves have the deepest emotional need. Their criticism is an ineffective way of pleading for love. If you understand this, you might respond more positively to their criticism.

You might say, “It sounds like that is really important to you. Could you explain why it is so crucial?” Initiating such a conversation may eventually turn the criticism into a request rather than a demand. When you hear a criticism, it’s time to listen. Your spouse is giving you valuable information about what would make them feel loved.

Servant or Slave?
Are you a doormat or a lover? A doormat is an inanimate object. You can wipe your feet on it, step on it, kick it around, or whatever you like. It has no will of its own. It can be your slave, but not your lover. When we treat our spouses as objects, we preclude the possibility of love. No person should ever be a doormat. We are called to be servants.

Jesus said about himself, “I did not come to be served, but to serve.” That should be our attitude. “What can I do to help you?” reveals a loving attitude. “You do this or you will regret it.” Is the language of slavery. There is a vast difference between being a servant and being a slave. The servant acts out of love. The slave lives in response to fear.

Learn to Speak Your Spouse’s Love Language
Recently a wife said to me, “I’m sending all of my friends to your marriage seminar.” “Really, why?” I asked. “Before the seminar, Bob never helped me with anything. We both had our careers, but it was always my job to do all the house work. After the seminar he started asking me, “What can I do to help you this evening?”

“I’ll have to admit that at first there were trying and humorous times. The first time he did the laundry he used bleach instead of detergent. Our blue towels came out with white polka dots. But eventually he learned. It’s wonderful. And, it’s been going on for three years now.” Why was this wife so happy? Because her husband learned to speak her love language.

Adapted from The 5 Love Languages® by Dr. Gary Chapman.


  1. Not bad :). I would also recommend the book Love & Respect by Dr. Emerson Eggrichs.

  2. Sometimes I WISH my husband would just listen to my love language. I don’t know how else to tell him. For instance.. he’s so worried about finding time to go Christmas shopping for me to get me really great gifts, when in fact I have told him the ONLY thing I want from him is his time, that he has so little of to give me. I just want to snuggle by the fire, or play a game, or do to dinner just the two us… but instead of finding the time to do these things, he will be out buying gifts of things that I really have no need for. He’s a great man, and I adore him.. but sometimes he just doesn’t get it and I often find myself lonely.

  3. Jamie your post made sad. You don’t mention what you H’s LL is but if you do know and start “speaking” to him that way it should open up a dialogue where you can share yours. My H was not the sort who would go out of his way to read a book on marriage but he did take the quiz in the 5 love languages. This opened the door for me to tell him mine and since then I keep praising him for “filling my cup” whenever he does the slightest thing to make me feel loved the way I feel it best. It really has made a difference and as icing on the cake he is now reading Sheet Music.

    Something else to consider is to straight up ask him. “Honey, I know you are busy but I would love nothing more this Christmas than some intimate one on one time with you.” Then set a date and time. They don’t read our minds, dang it all ;), so we have to be blunt. Is there anyway he would consent to cuddling up in front of the fire and doing some online shopping?

  4. Shopping online doesn’t sound like a bad idea, especially if he’s okay with the idea of looking for something online with you beside him.

    Just a suggestion here. Have you told him you appreciate how much he cares for you to the point he’d do anything to find the “perfect gift”? Tell him you’re thankful for all he’s done and you respect them. That doesn’t necessarily mean you agree, but you understand his intentions. For example, I tell my hubby he shouldn’t feel obligated to get me something on special dates or when the urge comes, but I still appreciate it when he does :).

    Let him know how it makes you feel. As stated earlier, it may help to preface it with sharing how you’re glad he wants to give you something special. Praying!

  5. Timely reminder! Thank you!

  6. My husband is an acts of service guy. I know he loves me when he gets up before me to make the kids’ oatmeal, or warms the baby’s bottle and leaves it by the bed before he goes to work… I also have learned that he REALLY appreciates when I do “chores” like washing the dishes or cleaning the bathroom, things that I don’t enjoy much- but I enjoy more when I think about how happy it makes him.

  7. exactly peachesandcream. Whenever I do a household task now I am motivated by how happy he will be when he walks into a tidy relaxing home. It sets the stage for our evening time together so it makes even my least favorite projects…cleaning the bathroom 😛 kind of cool.

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