For some reason, I seem to be always talking about Love these days. Hum... I wonder why? Anyway, I do find it a fascinating and complicated topic. How do we love? How do we know when someone loves us? How do we express our love? Inevitably, I bring a book I read years ago, called the 5 Love Languages by Gary Chapman, into the conversation.
The premise of the book is that we all feel and know that we are loved by how people relate to us. There are five love languages that we can fall under that make us feel truly loved. They are: Words of Affirmation, Quality Time, Receiving Gifts, Acts of Service and Personal Touch. We, of course, will fall into more than one category but one will resonate more than the others.
Finding the right language is the key to helping a person feel loved. This is not just for a spouse, partner or lover. There are other relationships that are filled with love, like love for a parent, girlfriend or child.
Do you remember the 'good ole days' when 'experts' told us to treat all of our children the same to prevent jealousy? Yet our children still felt that their siblings were loved more than they were. The different love languages really explains why this may have happened.
Using myself and my family as examples will comprehend each love language more clearly.
Words of Affirmation
This is really as simple as "to love me is to talk to me." My sweet little one (she is 8), falls under this category. Although we may be baking, reading or playing a game together, it is the verbal communication that she enjoys the most. It is my tone of voice and the words that I use that means so much to her. This really goes for anyone, but what is different with people who resonate with this love language is that they take words personally. When I reprimand her, I have to be careful with my tone and words. Where I would need to give her siblings a strong tone in my voice and/or a time out, for her, I just need to tell her what she did that was not OK. She gets it. We used to say she was "so sensitive," but after reading this book, I understand that it is more that she hears the words I say and how I say it more clearly than her siblings. To her, when I say "I love you," she knows I mean it. One day she told me that she loved me to her heart. How can you beat that!
This is "to love them is to spend time with them." For my 10-year-old, she needs my undivided attention to knows she is loved. She is the one who always wants to play games or go for a bike ride together. It is important for her to be with the people that love her. It is not that these people need to be with a person all the time. It is just that there needs to be times in each day that they really connect with the ones they love.
We all love receiving gifts (a little bling now and again can NEVER hurt a relationship), but for a person whose language is "to love me is to buy me things," receiving a gift is a demonstration of love. It gives them a tangible symbol that they can hold onto. When they look at the gift they think, "this person thinks of me and loves me." Even as a very young child, my oldest loved and cherished gifts that were given to him from the people who love him. These gifts had nothing to do with monetary value, it could be a shell found on a beach or something one of his grandparents found in their home that they thought he would like. For people with this love language, it is important to "see" the love.
Acts of Service
For this person, "to love them is to do things for them." It is doing things for that person that you know that they would like. For my husband, a clean freak from birth, when I make an effort to tidy up (not one of my fortés) and vacuum, it really means the world to him. It is not the same if they have to ask. This has to be a spontaneous thought on your part, thinking, "hey, I know he will like it if I do this for him!"
Hasn't touching always been a way to communicate that you love someone? We all need to be hugged, kissed and held for our physical and emotional well-being, but with the person whose language is "to love them is to touch them," it goes one step further. Without it, they feel completely unloved. I fall under this category. When my husband and I started dating, we always spooned on the couch together, snuggling as we talked or watched TV. Now that couches are smaller (ahem), we can no longer do this, but we still touch, even if it is just our toes. After 28 years of marriage we still hold hands. I anticipate we will be one of those cute couples in our 90′s when we will still hold hands and 'smooch' in public. At least I hope so.
Which one do you relate to? Which one do you use to express your love? Do you notice that the one that is your love language is the one you use to show your love? Understanding that this might not be the language your significant other resonates with will make a tremendous difference in your relationship. 5 Love Languages has an online quiz for you to take to discover your own love language.