Your spouse comes home and gives you flowers, but what you really want is help with the dishes. Your teenager claims you don’t love them, even though you just took them shopping.
Love is often thought of as a feeling that just exists between people that are supposed to love each other. Sometimes love can be easy, but other times we and our loved ones don’t feel heard, seen, appreciated or even loved. Why is this?
Gary Chapman, New York Times best selling author, writes about ‘The Five Languages of Love’. He believes that each of us express love and receives love in five distinct languages. Knowing which to use can be helpful in communication love to another person. It can also help us know which language speaks to us.
WORDS OF AFFIRMATION
Words of affirmation can be expressed through compliments (verbal appreciation) and/or through encouragement.
Simple compliments like “you look beautiful in that color” or “your spaghetti is awesome” can go a long way. They let the other person know they are seen, valued and appreciated.
Encouragement can be offered by noticing progress, effort, unique and/or special qualities and by reassuring another in difficult circumstance.
QUALITY OF TIME
Quality of time is about focusing ALL of your energy on the other person. This means no multi-tasking. Quality of time includes quality of conversation and quality of activities.
Quality of conversation involves sharing experiences, thoughts, feelings, desires and disappointments without interruption. When listening, the object is not to problem-solve, but to be an engaged and sympathetic listener. (If you do have a solution to the other person’s problem, go ahead and mention it, but make sure problem solving doesn’t become your objective.)
Quality of activities is spending time with the other person doing activities that they enjoy.
Some people respond to visual symbols of love. They often treasure gifts or material objects as expressions of love and devotion.
These gifts do not have to be expensive and do not need to happen every day or even every week. To ensure “good gift giving” try to think of things the other person likes (colors, types and so on). Remember that you are investing in the person, not the object.
ACTS OF SERVICE
This language of love involves doing things for the person. It often involves simple chores like doing the dishes or picking up groceries. In this language it is important to understand which acts of service are valued. For example, one person could value taking out the garbage, but the other person values washing the dishes. Acts of service should not be done out of obligation, but as a way to speak the other person’s language of love.
This language is about receiving physical contact or touch. It is important to understand how and where the person likes to be touched because we all enjoy different forms.
For spouses or partners, sex is often included in physical touch but it is not limited to this. Simple gestures like stroking the other person’s hair or touching their cheek can go a long way. For mates who speaking this language loudly, physical contact can make or break a relationship.
– Each person can have more than one language that speaks to them.
– We often give love in the way we like to receive love. So if acts of service is your primary way of feeling loved don’t assume that it works for your spouse or child. You need to find out what their special language is.