0092 – Love Language Week: When Does ‘Acts of Service’ Turn Into Manipulation?


How to know if you or your partner’s love language is acts of service, and how to show or receive love this way.

Teaser Bullets

by the end of this episode you’ll learn:

  • …what Acts of Service aren’t
  • how to know if acts of service is your partner’s love language
  • the difference between love in this language and manipulation
  • easy steps to take to if your partner best understands love through acts of service

Describe the problem

…You’re always forgetting to put your underwear in the hamper, or your partner seems cranky with you after he worked in the yard all day and you went to the spa. It might just be that, like receiving gifts, your partner is looking for symbols of your love for him or her…but this time, it’s through your actions. So how do you speak the language of love through acts of service? And is there a difference between being a happy partner and an indentured servant? Find out next.

Segment #1

Quick review of love languages

How to know if this love language is yours or your partner’s:


    • 8. Definition: All about ACTION…doing something for your spouse that you know they would like for you to do. Cooking a meal, washing dishes, taking out the garbage, mowing the lawn, renewing license plates, changing the baby’s diaper, and painting the bedroom, etc. Words are nice, but like gifts, this language is about showing or symbolizing that love through actions.

How to know…

    • 7. What does your partner complain about most often? E.g. You never seem to help out around here, or I’m always doing everything
    • 6. How does your partner typically show love to others? E.g. He or she is always volunteering to stay after a party to help clean up, doesn’t mind running errands in a pinch for a friend, and may or may not organize your stuff without asking.
    • 5. What does your partner request most often? E.g. “Honey-do Lists,” please do ABC, please take care of… These requests will always require you to DO something

Segment #2

How to show…

    • 4. Re-examine your idea of gender roles. If you get too stuck in “men do this and women do this” you may be completely neglecting how your partner feels and receives love because you refuse to take out the trash or change a diaper. Remember, you’re partners in this thing together, so “man up” and clean the toilet, or “woman up” and take out the trash.
    • 3. Re-frame nagging. Tired of your partner bugging you to do something? How about you reframe it as, “Wow, he is really expressing to me exactly how he wants me to show him love today.” A little cheesy? Yes…but imagine how good your partner will feel when you finally file those bills. (though it’s good to note that there is a difference between nagging and manipulation, re: “ “If you were a good spouse, you would do this for me” is not the language of love. “You will do this, or you’ll be sorry” is manipulation, not love. If acts of service are to be acts of love, they must be freely given. Requests give direction to love, but demands stop the flow of love.”)
    • 2. This might be one of the more difficult languages to learn (that’s why they’re called languages…you actually have to learn to “speak” them), but try to “see” things you normally wouldn’t. Partners who receive love through acts of service would FAR prefer to never have to mention their need…they want you to voluntarily help. So try to see and anticipate before they have to ask.


Final Thoughts:


Number One Tip: Don’t take it personally (also worded as “get over yourself”). You might do something for your partner, and then he or she might question or criticize the “rightness” of how you did it. See if there is something you can’t learn from the criticism, and re-frame it as, “The next time I do this task, I’ll be able to show my partner I love him that much more.”


  • Elijah’s Thoughts
  • Sarah’s Thoughts


In Closing

If you have a question, comment, or funny story about [INSERT SHOW TOPIC] you can send us an email at elijah@relationspodcast.com. You can also follow us on Twitter at “Haverelations”, find us on facebook at facebook.com/haverelations. I’m @elijahryoung on Twitter, my amazing co-host (and author of “How to be Dumped: The definitive Breakup Guide” is @sarahJStorer on Twitter and this show’s notes and soon, it’s transcription, will be at our home base, relationspodcast.com/92, and don’t forget to subscribe to the Get the Gal, or Get the Guy mini course in the sidebar!

Now go forth and continue to relate better to one another. We’ll talk soon.

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