Are Your Love Languages Transactional?

Cyndi and Bobby discuss the five love languages and how to make them positively impact your law enforcement relationship.


The most popular idea that couples have regarding relationships seems to be the five love languages. I’ve heard many couples talk about knowing their own love languages and some even know their partner’s love language. If each other’s love languages are known, one would think your relationship’s needs would be met, but that is not always the case. What the heck could be the problem? It’s true that if we pay attention to each other’s love language, it positively impacts our relationship. It becomes a problem when they become transactional. Let’s talk about how this happens and what to do about it.

What are the love languages?

  1. Acts of service- This is when you do things out of kindness or love for somebody else. It has to be something that the other person is going to value and appreciate.

  2. Words of Affirmation- With words of affirmation we look at character as opposed to saying thank you or giving compliments because not all thank you and compliments are received in the manner that is intended. Words of affirmation are when someone expresses their appreciation or value for the other person.

  3. Physical Touch- This is any physical touch that is appreciated. It can be touching somebody’s head or giving them a peck on the cheek, or a nice hug.

  4. Quality Time- This is any time you’re spending together. This is specific to what you and your partner establish as quality time. It could be sitting on the couch watching a movie or going hiking. Quality time can be considered parallel time which is when you’re doing an activity together in the same space. This could be anything from playing videos game in the same room but playing a different game, to one person watching TV while the other is checking email.

  5. Gifts- This can be anything that is given to your partner that they appreciate.

How love languages help in a relationship?

For love languages to work, you have to talk about and find out what your partner likes. If your partner’s love language is words of affirmations and you tell her she is beautiful all the time, it may not be the affirmation she wants or needs. She might want you to tell her how proud you are of her. The way love languages are supposed to work is if your partner is going to demonstrate love towards you, then this is a way that you can acknowledge and understand that they are showing you love.

What causes love languages to not help in a relationship?

Love languages do not work when they become transactional and create a negative shift in the relationship. This means that if you do the dishes, the expectation shouldn’t be that your spouse takes the trash out. It should be more of your partner recognizing that the dishes were done and taking the trash out in return. The difference between the two is the expectation that because one person puts an effort in, their partner should as well.

Law enforcement relationships are unique, and some components of love languages can become skewed based on the culture of the career.

Lack of time together

Due to schedules and sleeping, couples may not see each other as much as they would like. If one partner’s love language is quality time, it can be difficult to find quality time during the limited availability you have as a couple. That person’s love language suffers and it can cause a decline in your relationship’s connection.

Downside of Hypervigilance

Oftentimes, officers will come home and experience the downside of hypervigilance. They can appear tired and flat with their emotions. If as a spouse, you are trying to squeeze in some quality time, it can lead to frustration when they are unable to engage and connect.  This can lead to resentment and miscommunication within your relationship.

Emotional disconnection

Not understanding each other’s world can lead to emotional disconnection. Officers don’t always share what truly happens on the job in an attempt to protect their families from anxiety and worrying. If your spouse asks you how your day was and your response is “ Same shit, different day” it can create disconnection and loneliness. If there is a lack of connection in your relationship, it can be difficult to want to honor the other person’s love language.


As a spouse, you can be forced to become independent simply due to being alone and figuring out what to do with your time. It can also mean that you don’t have to lean on your partner for an act of service because you can do it yourself. This type of independence can make your partner feel less valued for their skills and knowledge. It can cause them to shut down with feelings of resentment and contempt.

Weaponizing love languages for your benefit

If one partner is angry at their spouse, are you doing the act of their love language to make the other person forget their feelings of anger or to get back in good graces?  Are you focused on how to get your needs met rather than how you can love your spouse? Maybe you want to buy a new gun or a new purse, so you give your partner quality time with the expectation that you will be able to make the purchase. This can lead your partner to believe that you only indulge in their love language when you want something in return. Don’t’ weaponize an act of love for your benefit.

The Mindset in Policing

Officers see the world very differently than the average citizen. There are no rose-colored glasses given out in the academy. There isn’t an appreciation for what they do daily and there is a common mindset that everyone is a shit bag and out to harm them. The filter of their world changes. A shield goes up and creates a barrier between doing their job and being able to emotionally connect with others. This can spillover at home and create the inability to see their spouse’s love language.

Love languages need to be communicated and cannot be transactional. Start with changing the conversation around love languages and adjusting the filter of how we can start thinking about pleasing our spouse without the expectation of filling our own love language in return.

How do you change love languages to be less transactional and more intentional?

Talk about the problem

If your love language is not being met, clear the air, communicate, and talk about the problem! When doing this you have to own your behaviors and not call someone out on theirs. Stay away from the blame game. Everybody makes mistakes so you have to be careful not to do it as blame but own your actions. Don’t say. “Well, you did this, so that’s why I did this.” Instead try, “When you did this it made me feel this way.” When assigning a feeling to your communication, it can better clear the air and make your love language more understandable.

Remember a time of appreciation

Go back to a time when you thought fondly of and had a sense of appreciation for that person regardless of your love language being met.

Create habits

If you need to, set reminders for yourself to show your partner love and make it a habit. It could be something as simple as putting sticky notes in their car or making a list for yourself. This is a way to show your partner you are making them a priority!

Worry about what you are doing!

Keep your side of the street clean. Do your part and stop thinking about what the other person’s not doing. Do the acts of love languages for nothing more than you want to make your partner happy.

Consider what is going on in their world!

Consider if your partner may have an “injury” at the moment.  Maybe something is going on with them that they’re not capable of giving love the way that they have given in the past or in this moment. For example, if your partner has cramps, she may not want to be touched and therefore your love language cannot be met. Or it could be an emotional injury from witnessing a critical incident at work, and your officer is not able to disconnect from the incident and connect with your needs. Take this “injury” into consideration when questioning why your love language is not being fulfilled

If you don’t know your love language or your partner’s, you can simply ask or take a free assessment online at Assess your mindset when doing an act of love. Are you doing them because you want to see your partner happy or is your expectation to get something in return? Open up a conversation about how your needs are or are not getting met without blaming your partner. Stay away from attacking one another and instead add feelings into your conversation. Lastly, create habits and set reminders to show your partner you know their love language and that they are a priority. With this type of mindset, you can move love languages from being transactional to being more collaborative and reciprocal.


Are Your Love Languages Transactional?

Cyndi and Bobby discuss the five love languages and how to make them positively impact your law enforcement relationship.




To Hell and Back

In this podcast episode, host Cyndi Doyle interviews John Blumenthal, a Retired Master Sergeant (Ret.) with the Oklahoma City Police Department.

Read More »