What does ‘marriage language’ say about communication in relationships?

Emily Whitton
By Emily Whitton,
updated on Sep 8, 2023

Woman kissing another woman on the cheeks who has a wide smile.

There’s a new trend doing the rounds on TikTok, ‘marriage language’, but what is it and what can it tell us about communication in relationships?

You’ve likely heard about the five key love languages in relationships. These are the ways that couples choose to express and receive their love towards one another.

  • Words of affirmation: Verbally affirming how much you love and care for your partner.
  • Acts of service: Providing ‘service’ to your partner, like making them breakfast.
  • Affection: Displaying affection in physical forms, such as hand-holding or hugging.
  • Quality time: Being mentally and physically present with each other.
  • Gifts: Buying or making gifts to give to your partner to show your love for them.

Understanding these love languages (and specifically the preferred language(s) of your significant other) can help foster healthy communication and happiness in romantic relationships. But now there’s a new kind of ‘language’ on the block – ‘marriage language’. Could this be another way to affirm a romantic relationship? Let’s take a look at what marriage language actually is and what it says about how we communicate with our partners.

What is marriage language?

‘Marriage language’ is essentially the name given to ‘childish’ words that couples create to refer to things and only the two of them know what they mean. It’s worth pointing out that you don’t actually have to be married to have your own ‘marriage language’.

The new trend on TikTok sees couples sharing relatable and humorous content, showcasing their exclusive words. “The personal anecdotes are created by individuals and couples, which may not even be part of an actual language that we are familiar with,” says counsellor Rosalind Miles.

There’s something comforting about the seemingly adult ‘toddler talk’ that we’re hearing. One person commented “I love it when people can let out their inner child together” and another said, “I’m just looking at this that you both feel safe enough in your relationship to act like kids together and it's so amazing.”

@aubree.harper this is the way of communication in the harper house. #marriagelanguage ♬ Cena Engraçada e Inusitada de 3 Minutos - HarmonicoHCO

What does marriage language have to say about communication in relationships?

According to Rosalind, marriage language can be pretty empowering for couples. “This can be recognition and prove good communication within the relationship. It can sometimes be seen as validation of the relationship and showing the world it is unique and special.

“These languages can be created in the most ordinary everyday moments. It proves there is something extraordinary to be appreciated within the relationship. It encourages people to find wonder and value in the everyday aspects of their relationship, whilst validating its strength and uniqueness that viewers can admire,” she goes on to say.

However, for some people, the trend may lead them to question certain aspects of their relationship. One person commented, “This trend is so cute and wholesome but does it make anyone else wonder if there's something wrong with their own marriage?” In response to the comment, the original poster wrote, “Silly little misnomers are part of our love language, if that's not how you express it, it doesn't mean there's something wrong,” which Rosalind echoes.

“As a therapist, I often get asked how social media can affect people, how they perceive themselves and others and also the impact on their relationships, especially romantic connections. I can understand that trends like ‘marriage language’ can highlight the highs, as well as the challenges within a relationship.

“The trend celebrates love and affection in its very different forms and highlights the individual connection that can be found in simple, intimate moments between people. It shows that everyone's communication style is different, as are all relationships! It celebrates those differences meeting together with an understanding that they are in a partnership.”

As Rosalind mentions, it’s important to note that every communication style is different, so if you and your partner don’t have your own marriage language, that doesn’t mean that there’s something ‘wrong’ within your relationship. 

Is the ‘marriage language’ trend helpful?

“Some people may argue that it can be considered a practical tool to offer strategies for improving communication, resolving those minor conflicts, and deepening emotional connections,” Rosalind says. “While current TikTok trends can promote positivity, they can offer a different focus. The TikTok discussions about communication delve into the practical aspects of relationship dynamics.

“The comments promote the discussions and opinions of other users. Both approaches can be valuable. Discussions about communication provide tools and guidance for building strong, lasting bonds through effective interaction.”

How to effectively communicate with a partner

It’s clear that language is pretty important when it comes to communicating your wants and needs in a romantic relationship, but what are some other ways that we can translate these desires?

Top tips for communicating with others:

  • Think about your feelings first. Where possible, try not to enter into a conversation with heightened emotions. Feeling angry or upset is perfectly natural, but it can make it tricky to communicate well. Try to process your thoughts beforehand so you can come to a resolution.
  • Regularly check-in. Don’t allow things to build up. Regularly review how you’re feeling and what you need and communicate this to your partner before it mounts up.
  • Take note of patterns. Do you notice something in particular that triggers you in your relationship? Try to spot when you feel like your needs are not being met or your boundaries are being crossed.
  • Use ‘I’ statements. If you do recognise something your partner has said or done that has affected you in some way, try not to point the finger at them. Using ‘I’ statements such as, “I feel hurt when…” makes a big difference to how you approach a difficult conversation.
  • Listen to one another. Whilst the language we use is important, remember that this isn’t limited to verbal communication. It’s equally as important to actively listen to your partner and understand why they feel the way they do.
  • Leave notes. If it doesn’t feel like the right time to talk face-to-face, you could try leaving a note for your significant other, instead.

So, whether you refer to spinach as “spinch” or jeans as “yeenuses”, or you prefer a simple act of service, there are many ways to communicate with your partner – all of which are equally as important in cultivating happy, healthy relationships. Why not find what works for you and discover your language of love?

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