How to Use Acts of Service Love Language in Your Relationship

Clinically Reviewed by Steven Melendy, PsyD. on February 02, 2022

The acts of service love language is the ultimate show of the proverb “actions speak louder than words.” 

Though not an undeniable personality trait of this love language, I always associate acts of service with those who keep their cards close to their chest and use few words to express their ideas, if they decide to express themselves at all. 

Using acts of service in your relationship isn’t all service projects and cookies. It’s about actively making someone else’s life better through thoughtful action. 

Common Acts of Service: Chores

Generally, the acts of service love language is most commonly associated with household chores. Do the dishes for your beau. Take out the trash for your mom. Finally scrub out that dirty microwave. 

And that’s a great place to start! 

Whether you’re living with the family that raised you or the family you find along the way, taking care of your physical space is a great way to positively affect everyone around you. 

Keep in mind, an act of service doesn’t need to be some huge project. 

Toss a towel in the dryer before your spouse gets out of the shower. Set out all the necessary dishes and fix-ins for your roommate’s coffee the night before they need it. Take your parent’s car through the car wash. 

Take a moment to think through someone else’s week and choose one task to check off for them. 

Common Acts of Service: Errands

Another common act of service is to run an errand for your person. There’s nothing quite like giving the gift of not having to leave the house! 

Especially during this time where curb-side pick-up is commonplace, offer to pick up your neighbor's groceries or your partner’s dinner. 

Call your roommate while you’re out shopping and see if you can pick anything up for them. 

Offer your time and energy to check something off of your friend’s list. 

Speaking of time, another way to use acts of service in this way is to offer your partner some free time. 

Take the kiddos on a walk and give your spouse time to eat lunch without tiny munchkins sharing off of their plate. Or vice versa. Babysit for your neighbor so he can catch a movie. Give your employee a morning break to grab some breakfast. 

Show love through an act of service by pitching in to preserve your partner’s time and energy. 

Common Acts of Service: Food

In my opinion, food deserves its own love language category… but alas, I am not Gary Chapman or the genius researchers at Truity. 

However, food is a great way to serve someone you love! 

Random drop-off of sweets? Love. 

“Hey neighbor, I’m bringing you dinner tonight? What time does your family eat? Any food allergies to be aware of?” Love. 

Breakfast in bed on a Saturday morning? Love. 

Pay attention to the way your partner order’s their favorite drink. What topping they like on pizza. And keep a note of those preferences as a reference! 

Use those notes for thoughtful acts of food-related service. 

Pro-tip: Listen for Little Improvements

When your partner off-handedly says “Man, I’m really jonesin’ for some pizza” or “Hm, I need to tackle that closet this weekend.” That’s your cue! 

And, contrary to popular belief, you don’t need to keep it a secret (though, surprises are a lot of fun!) You can ask, “how can I help with that?” I imagine you might get a helpful response. If your partner is anything like mine, they’ll respond with an “oh, don’t worry about it.” 

That’s where I ask a bunch of questions to get him talking. My secret? I’ll repeat back the end of a sentence or label the emotion of an idea he shares. This encourages more sharing, which gives me more information on how exactly I can contribute an act of service to my relationship. 

This is the part where I attempt an evil laugh and miserably fail because acts of service are kindness in action. 

Moving on… 

How exactly can I help with a task I can’t take off of my partner’s plate? 

Look at the surrounding details of said task. 

Does your girlfriend have a doctor’s appointment right after work next Thursday? Great! 

You can’t go to the Dr’s appointment for her (and she may not even want you to go *with* her), but you CAN offer her a ride. Or to pick her up with her favorite take-out because she’ll be starving. Or to pick up her dry-cleaning so she can come straight home after her appointment. 

Look at the context and choose something you can help with. 

Or even simpler than the above advice: support. When you know your mom has an audition for her local theater group, send a text wishing her luck. Give the simple service of being a shoulder to cry on, a listening ear, an encouraging fistbump. 

Ultimately, the acts of service love language is about giving your time and energy to preserve your partner’s.

What are your favorite ways to give or receive acts of service in a relationship?  Share your experience in the comments below.

Kim Jacobson

Kim spends her time as a freelance content marketing writer and indie author. Her focus is on empowering others to make healthy choices, and personality theory plays a large role in that calling. What else would you expect from an ENFP? She lives in the mountains with her ISFJ husband and two incredible kiddos.

More from this author...
About the Clinical Reviewer

Steven Melendy, PsyD., is a Clinical Psychologist who received his doctorate from The Wright Institute in Berkeley, California. He specializes in using evidence-based approaches in his work with individuals and groups. Steve has worked with diverse populations and in variety of a settings, from community clinics to SF General Hospital. He believes strongly in the importance of self-care, good friendships, and humor whenever possible.

Share your thoughts

THE FINE PRINT:

Myers-Briggs® and MBTI® are registered trademarks of the MBTI Trust, Inc., which has no affiliation with this site. Truity offers a free personality test based on Myers and Briggs' types, but does not offer the official MBTI® assessment. For more information on the Myers Briggs Type Indicator® assessment, please go here.

The Five Love Languages® is a registered trademark of The Moody Bible Institute of Chicago, which has no affiliation with this site. You can find more information about the five love languages here.

Latest Tweets

Get Our Newsletter