The month of Love! Photos, candies, flowers, hugs, kisses, and the gift of time make up many of my favorite Valentines Day gifts!!! What are yours? Take a little time and think of the three things that bless you most! Then think of what your significant other enjoys most. Plan a few fun activities that include the things you both love.
With children or a new baby in the house time is of the essence. It will take effort to make something special happen to show your love. Do you know your loved one’s love language? There are several books written on the Five Love Languages.
The Five Love Languages: How to Express Heartfelt Commitment to Your Mate is a 1995 book by Gary Chapman. It outlines five ways to express and experience love that Chapman calls “love languages”:
There is a free online test you can take to determine your most desired love languages. Share it with those in your family to help them understand how to best express their love to you. Have them take the test so you know what pleases them most. There are also books on how to figure out the love languages of your children. This is a great tool in meeting the psychological and emotional needs of the children you love.
Chapman’s categories include the following:
Examples are given from his counseling practice, as well as questions to help determine one’s own love languages.
Written in his book, The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love that Lasts, Dr. Gary Chapman reveals that each of us primarily speaks with one of five love languages: quality time, physical touch, gift giving, acts of service, and words of affirmation.
People tend to give love the way they naturally prefer to receive love. Knowing your love language, you can better express your needs to your partner while also understanding how to make them feel loved in return. This not only helps in romantic relationships, but also improves the way we interact with anyone, whether in the office, with our family, or when meeting new friends. By understanding we give and receive love, we can show people we care and make them feel loved and appreciated.
Description of the Five Love Languages:
Words of affirmation
One way to express love emotionally is to use words that build up. Solomon, author of ancient Hebrew Wisdom Literature, wrote, “The tongue has the power of life and death” (Proverbs 18:21, NIV). Many couples have never learned the tremendous power of verbally affirming each other.
Verbal compliments, or words of appreciation, are powerful communicators of love. They are best expressed in simple, straightforward statements of affirmation, such as:
“You look sharp in that suit.”
“Do you ever look incredible in that dress! Wow!”
“I really like how you’re always on time to pick me up at work.”
“You can always make me laugh.”
Words of affirmation are one of the five basic love languages. Within that language, however, there are many dialects. All of the dialects have in common the use of words to affirm one’s spouse. Psychologist William James said that possibly the deepest human need is the need to feel appreciated. Words of affirmation will meet that need in many individuals.
By “quality time,” I mean giving someone your undivided attention. I don’t mean sitting on the couch watching television together. When you spend time that way, Netflix or HBO has your attention — not your spouse. What I mean is sitting on the couch with the TV off, looking at each other and talking, devices put away, giving each other your undivided attention. It means taking a walk, just the two of you, or going out to eat and looking at each other and talking.
Time is a precious commodity. We all have multiple demands on our time, yet each of us has the exact same hours in a day. We can make the most of those hours by committing some of them to our spouse. If your mate’s primary love language is quality time, she simply wants you, being with her, spending time.
Almost everything ever written on the subject of love indicates that at the heart of love is the spirit of giving. All five love languages challenge us to give to our spouse, but for some, receiving gifts, visible symbols of love, speaks the loudest.
A gift is something you can hold in your hand and say, “Look, he was thinking of me,” or, “She remembered me.” You must be thinking of someone to give him or her a gift. The gift itself is a symbol of that thought. It doesn’t matter whether it costs money. What is important is that you thought of him or her. And it is not the thought implanted only in the mind that counts but the thought expressed in actually securing the gift and giving it as the expression of love.
But what of the person who says, “I’m not a gift giver. I didn’t receive many gifts growing up. I never learned how to select gifts. It doesn’t come naturally for me.” Congratulations, you have just made the first discovery in becoming a great lover. You and your spouse speak different love languages. Now that you have made that discovery, get on with the business of learning your second language. If your spouse’s primary love language is receiving gifts, you can become a proficient gift giver. In fact, it is one of the easiest love languages to learn.
Acts of service
Michelle’s primary love language was what I call “acts of service.” By acts of service, I mean doing things you know your spouse would like you to do. You seek to please her by serving her, to express your love for her by doing things for her.
Consider actions such as cooking a meal, setting a table, emptying the dishwasher, vacuuming, changing the baby’s diaper, picking up a prescription, keeping the car in operating condition — they are all acts of service. They require thought, planning, time, effort and energy. If done with a positive spirit, they are indeed expressions of love.
A willingness to examine and change stereotypes is necessary in order to express love more effectively. Remember, there are no rewards for maintaining stereotypes, but there are tremendous benefits to meeting the emotional needs of your spouse. If your spouse’s love language is acts of service, then “actions speak louder than words.”
We have long known that physical touch is a way of communicating emotional love. Numerous research projects in the area of child development have made that conclusion: Babies who are held, stroked and kissed develop a healthier emotional life than those who are left for long periods of time without physical contact.
Physical touch is also a powerful vehicle for communicating marital love. Holding hands, kissing, embracing and sexual intercourse are all ways of communicating emotional love to one’s spouse. For some individuals, physical touch is their primary love language. Without it, they feel unloved. With it, their emotional tank is filled, and they feel secure in the love of their spouse.
Implicit love touches require little time but much thought, especially if physical touch is not your primary love language and if you did not grow up in a “touching family.” Sitting close to each other as you watch your favorite television program requires no additional time but may communicate your love loudly. Touching your spouse as you walk through the room where he is sitting takes only a moment. Touching each other when you leave the house and again when you return may involve only a brief kiss or hug but will speak volumes to your spouse.
Once you discover that physical touch is the primary love language of your spouse, you are limited only by your imagination on ways to express love.
Dr. Gary Chapman is a family counselor, radio host, associate pastor and author of several books, including The Five Love Languages and One More Try.