The Five Love Languages: Singles Edition is obviously a book that helps people learn how to express love more effectively in their dating relationships, but did you know that understanding love languages can also help you in your non-romantic relationships? In fact, when clients came to Dr. Chapman with relationship concerns, he would often have them practice their love language skills on family members such as parents or siblings before having them tackle romantic relationships.
Some of our best traits and most splendid memories come from spending time with our parents. However, we can also attribute some of our less than desirable traits to our family of origin as well. Parents pass down their love and guidance along with their subtle lessons about how the world works. Sometimes their lessons are healthy and other times they are not. Parents are human and are never perfect, but the sooner we separate the truths we learned as children from the myths, the more productive adults we will be! ~smile~
Perhaps the story which stood out to me the most from this book was about a guy named Brian. He was an educated, good looking guy that had a hard time with relationships. After a bit of probing, Dr. Chapman realized that Brian’s trouble in relationships had to do with how he spoke (or refrained from speaking) to the women he dated. He struggled to discuss personal topics and it didn’t occur to him to give his girl-friends positive feedback.
As it turns out, Brian came from a home that freely employed negative (e.g., critical) language, but seldom (if ever) positive (e.g., congratulatory, affectionate, encouraging) language. So Dr. Chapman worked with Brian to help him begin employing words of affirmation in his relationships, but instead of having him speak affirming words to a potential girlfriend, he had him start with his parents.
Even though it was difficult, he began telling his parents that he loved them and that he was thankful for them. Over time, their relationships improved and the following year he was in a new romantic relationship. Because he had learned to use words of affirmation with his parents, he was practiced and ready to employ them in a romantic setting. Not only that, but because his relationship with his parents was restored, he had a new outlook to life. When our family and friend relationships are strained, it affects our romantic relationships.
For a good number of years, our most important relationships are with our parents. We are only fooling ourselves if we believe that our connection with them is not important once we’re grown. We all desire our parents’ love – and sometimes it’s up to us to initiate change in our parental relationships. As difficult as it is, take it a step at a time and begin speaking love languages to your parents. It may take a while, but there is a good chance they will reciprocate. Notice which love language each parent responds to the most and make it a point to speak that language often.
Siblings have seen us at our best and at our worst. Most parents hope their children will grow up and be extremely close friends. Sometimes this works out and sometimes sibling relationships aren’t remotely enjoyable. Even if you believe your sibling has done you wrong and that he or she should be the one to initiate contact, take the higher road and make contact. Little by little use the different love languages (i.e., physical touch, acts of service, quality time, words of affirmation, and gifts) to help restore your relationship.
If you don’t know your sibling’s primary love language, see if you can figure it out by talking to other family members or mutual friends. Even if it’s uncomfortable for a while, reach out and offer your brother(s) or sister(s) love. Maybe part of your strained relationship all this time goes back to him or her not feeling loved by you? It’s never too late to turn that ship around! Sibling relationships are worth the investment because they will likely still be with you years after your grandparents, parents, aunts, and uncles are gone.
One of my friends loves to employ all the love languages with her friends. She’s just a loving person… period. She dog-sits for us once in a while and, on many occasions, I have come home to not only find a happy, healthy dog, but also a clean kitchen. I’ve told her repeatedly that she doesn’t need to do my dishes, but she usually does them anyway. So, I have two options. I can assume she’s telling me that I’m not a good enough housekeeper or I can realize that she’s showing love to me through acts of service. Knowing her like I do, I am sure that she is trying to show me love by helping me with a chore she knows I hate!
Just like family, friends need to know they are loved and appreciated. When you show your friends how much they mean to you, your relationship can’t help but deepen. If they feel loved, your relationship can weather rough patches, misunderstandings, and occasional hurt feelings. If you are blessed to have two die hard friends in your life, you are doing well! Cherish the relationships God gives you by purposefully pouring love on your friends. Don’t stop with just pouring love on them. Find out their love languages and intentionally show them love in that way! A good friend is worth the time and energy!
But who wants to show love to their co-workers? You would be surprised at how much of a difference a little love and consideration can make in the workplace. Do you have that co-worker that just drives you up the wall? Maybe he is always late and expects you to fill him in on the day’s assignments each morning? Maybe she takes credit for projects you do together? Whatever the reason, you can still attempt to improve your working relationship by using the five love languages.
Don’t think for a second that showing someone love is going to make you gushy and unprofessional. Love can be as subtle as a post-it note that says, “Thank you for your help on those reports. You did a great job and I appreciate it.” If John seems to be a physical touch person, you can pat him on the back as you walk by (quickly and non-suggestively). If Patty is a gifts person, occasionally bring her in a cup of coffee or her favorite candy bar. Notice what she likes and spend a couple of dollars on her here and there… just to brighten her day. And, there are always ways to show acts of service around the office, so if you have a co-worker who appreciates that, the sky’s the limit!
Employing love languages at work creates a more pleasant working environment. A difficult environment probably won’t change overnight, but it will change through the perseverance of demonstrating love. Don’t go overboard to the point that people start whispering about your intentions. Just subtly begin to support your co-workers in the ways they best receive love and support. Once you have established the fact that you care about your co-workers, they are more likely to listen and respect your wishes (e.g., asking them to carbon copy you in on e-mails they send the boss about the team’s projects, etc.). People tend to show others more respect and favor when they feel loved by them. And remember, you spend almost as much time with your co-workers each week as you do your family!
At certain stages of life, romantic relationships may seem like the only relationships that matter, but life experience later reveals that we need strong relationships with family, friends, and those we work with on a daily basis. The Five Love Languages: Singles Edition will not only help you learn to speak your significant other’s love language, but it will give you tools to enhance, renew, or even restore your other relationships. If you haven’t already purchased your copy of The Five Love Languages: Singles Edition, you’re missing out! It’s a great read. ~smile~
Are there any relationships in your life which need strengthening?