When most people hear the phrase “acts of service,” they might think of penance or punishment.
After all, “community service” is usually a mild punishment carried out for small crimes, right?
But of the five love languages, this might be the simplest to understand. Just remember this common phrase:
Actions speak louder than words.
This doesn’t mean grand gestures, either.
Acts of service can take many forms, from making sure the kitchen is always tidy, to running errands so the other person has a bit more free time.
Some people mistakenly believe that those who express their love via service are either sycophants or doormats, as they often take on more than others do, such as chores, errands, housework, and the like.
But that’s a choice, and many acts of service people are happy to do those things.
They just hope that others will also step up and do things for them in turn.
What Does It Mean If Acts Of Service Is My Love Language?
As the phrase above implies, if you’re the type who has acts of service as your primary love language, then not only does it mean the world to you when people do wonderful things for you – you also go out of your way to do things for them.
Sure, you’ll also love it when your partner tells you how much they love you, and you likely enjoy hugs and quality time like others do.
But when your beloved lets you know how much it means to them that you put so much care into everything you do for them, or they set aside whatever they’re doing to make you a cup of tea or give you a foot massage, it means the world to you.
When you say that you’ll do something for someone, you do it.
Your word is your bond, and you have an immense amount of integrity when it comes to keeping your promises.
For you, showing that you love someone is far more important than just telling them that.
So you go above and beyond to do things to alleviate their burdens, and make their lives happier.
As a result, if this is your love language, you may also get frustrated and hurt when your efforts go unappreciated, or if/when you feel taken for granted.
For example, if you’ve stepped up and taken care of the laundry for years, your partner may consider that to just be “your job,” and may complain if they don’t have clean socks in their drawer.
Similarly, if you go out of your way to do lovely things for your partner, and they continually break their promises to you about things they said they’d do, you may feel like you’re not worth the time and effort to them.
And that’s devastating.
How To Express Care If This Is Your Partner’s Love Language
First and foremost, if they ask you to do something for them, please do it.
It might not seem terribly big or important to you, but if they’ve asked you to do them a favor, or take care of a responsibility for them, that’s a bigger ask than you realize.
Most acts of service people are happy to take care of stuff by themselves, so if/when they need help, they often have trouble asking for it.
And when they do ask, it’s really important.
Some people say “yes, of course” when their partner asks them to do something, figuring that they can just take care of it whenever.
But when you say that you’ll do a thing, and then you don’t… they’ll feel like it’s not important enough for you to keep your word to them.
They might get frustrated or sad that you haven’t done the thing, which in turn might make you feel resentful or irritated because you SAID you’d do the thing, and you’ll get around to it EVENTUALLY… lather, rinse, repeat.
If you think that your partner’s love language may be acts of service, take a moment to sit down and really consider all the little things that they do for you over the course of a day, or a week.
Write them down, if possible.
Chances are they’ll add up to a lot, and you might realize that they do a lot more for you and the family than you were even aware of.
Are the sheets always clean? How about your clothes? Are the garbage cans usually empty? The dishes washed?
Make a list of all the different chores and other tasks that need to be taken care of in the home, and write your name down beside all the tasks that you do on a regular basis.
All the ones that don’t have your name beside them are taken care of by someone else, right?
Yessssss. Your partner.
If your beloved has acts of service as their main love language, they likely go above and beyond their share of household chores and responsibilities.
One great way to show your love in a way they understand is to take that over for them.
Are they doing the dishes? Grab a drying cloth and join in. Or offer to take over completely.
Same goes for cleaning the cat litter boxes, or vacuuming, or a bajillion other little tasks that need doing.
Your efforts won’t go unnoticed, and will actually be appreciated and treasured more than you can imagine.
Examples Of Acts of Service
As mentioned earlier, if your partner’s love language is acts of service, pay special attention when they ask you to do stuff for them. It’s important.
You can also sit down and ask them if there’s anything you can do for them to make their life happier/brighter/easier, or to help them out with anything.
The mere fact that you’re asking will make their heart soar, and if you follow through and do it in a timely fashion, it’ll show them just how much they mean to you.
Here are some additional acts of service that you can do for them:
– Take on a chore that they usually do, before they get to it.
– Surprise them with their favorite meal.
– If they look tired or have mentioned that they’re sore after a long day or hard workout, offer to give them a massage, or run a bath for them.
– Pack their lunch for the day, and slip in a sweet note for them to find.
– Do something that they really dislike doing, like cleaning up dog poop from the yard, or ironing.
– Ask what you can help them with.
– Step in and take over a chore they’re doing, suggesting they go do something that they enjoy instead.
– Make sure that if/when you get yourself a drink or a snack, you ask if they’d like something too.
– Take note of when something they like is running out (favorite juice, bubble bath, spirulina powder, etc.) and replace it before it’s empty.
– Make a music playlist on Spotify, like a modern mixtape, and share it with them.
– Collect everything you need to complete a project that’s been on your shared “to-do” list, and invite them to finish it with you.
– Have a warm drink ready for them when they return if they’re out running errands in chilly weather. (Reverse this with a cold drink if it’s steaming outside.)
– If you have kids, arrange for a sitter so you two can go out for dinner/a fun date night.
– Get together with the kids and make breakfast in bed for your partner on a random morning, not just mother’s/father’s day, or their birthday.
– And most importantly, remember to do things that you promised to do for them.
Try To Communicate Each Other’s Needs
When people speak different love languages, their actions and words might not be as noticed and appreciated by their partners.
It really is like speaking different languages, and if you two have different love expressions, you may both feel unseen and unfulfilled.
If your partner hasn’t done the love languages quiz yet, by all means encourage them to do so!
Then, the two of you can sit down together and discuss how you express and receive love.
You may both have sudden epiphanies when you realize how the other person has been trying to communicate their care, and how your own actions/words might not have been what they needed.
This is why communication is so very important, always.
If we’re trying to show our loved ones that we care, but they’re either not seeing or misinterpreting our actions, they might not realize just how deeply they’re loved and appreciated.
And vice versa.
If your language is acts of service, explain to your partner that doing things for them is the best way for you to show them how much you care.
They may not have realized that they were taking these actions for granted.
In turn, you can also let them know that actions speak more loudly than words for you, and give them examples about the acts that mean the most to you.
We really don’t know these things unless we tell each other, right?
Ways For Acts of Service People To Deepen Connections
Once you’ve discussed the various ways that you prefer to give and receive acts of service, you and your partner can work together to determine what lovely things you can do for one another.
For one thing, you can have a frank, open discussion about how each of you likes to have things done, and find ways to compromise or meet halfway.
If you find that there’s an imbalance in household chores, design a “chore wheel” together, and spin it weekly so that tasks are divided fairly.
Furthermore, play to your respective strengths, and take on tasks that are best suited to your individual skill sets, as well as your preferences.
Do you love to fold laundry, but hate doing dishes? See if you can both choose dedicated tasks that you both like to do, and then alternate the less-than-wonderful ones.
Let the more math-savvy partner take greater charge of finances, while the better planner can sort out household and calendar management.
As a final note, remember that acts of service doesn’t equal indentured servitude.
Whether this is your primary love language or your partner’s, neither of you should ever feel like you’re obligated to do something when your heart isn’t in it.
This is especially true if you’re asked to do something that makes you uncomfortable.
It’s absolutely okay to say “no.”
If you do, however, it’s also important to explain to the other person why you’re declining to do this particular service act.
We’re not mind readers – we might not realize that we’re making the other person feel uncomfortable, or obligated, unless we communicate.
Remember that everyone processes the world through a filter of their own personal experience.
As such, if someone behaves differently than they do, or doesn’t seem to be on the same page, they might not understand why.
Acts of service can be wonderful ways to show one another that you care. The key is to recognize and acknowledge them when they happen, and reciprocate beautifully.
More in this series:
- Words Of Affirmation Love Language
- Receiving Gifts Love Language
- Quality Time Love Language
- Physical Touch Love Language