Growing up, and even sometimes now, I make the classic mistake many of us often make: I assume. Have you ever assumed? My assumptions are based on my own personality and my own experience. “How is it possible not to like frequent hugs? Why would anyone choose a gift from his or her special someone over several hours of focused attention?”
Because we have our preferred ways of giving and receiving love, we tend to think other people prefer to be loved in the same manner. “I love gifts, so I will shower him with gifts!” …. “Why is he not so excited about all my gifts?” “I appreciate all her gifts, but she really should not go to all that trouble. I wish she would just sit down and watch some movies with me and cuddle.”
Being aware of your primary love language and your sweetie’s primary love language is not essential to a happy relationship. After all, the concept of love languages is not very old. Men and women have found ways to show each other love for centuries – at least in some relationships.
However, understanding love languages takes a lot of guess work out of the age old question, “How can I let my sweetheart know how much love is in my heart?” How frustrating is it to go out of your way to express love to someone only to hear him or her say, “I just can’t tell how you feel about me.”?
Knowing your sweetie’s love language will help you bypass all the possible ways to express affection and arrive at the ones that will truly speak to his or her heart. “Helping him with his laundry makes him feel loved. Who knew? I thought he was just lazy.” “Giving her a hug when she is stressed makes her feel loved. Wow. If someone tries to hug me when I am stressed, I push them away.”
In this series (over this week and next), we will be discussing each love language individually and giving practical tips on how to express love to others in each of the five love languages!
For the sake of review – the five love languages as outlined by Dr. Gary Chapman are:
- Physical Touch: Those who speak physical touch are frequently touching the people they love. Some girls who speak physical touch will walk through the mall arm in arm with a friend. They probably hug their friends a lot, especially when those they love are going through a rough time. Guys who speak physical touch may high five other guys and put their arms around girls, even if they have no romantic interest in them. In a relationship, physical touch people will always be ready for the next hug, cuddle, kiss, or back rub. Touch equals love! If you know someone speaks physical touch and you are not interested in them romantically, be careful not to touch him or her too much so that you do not convey the wrong message. And note that the love language of physical touch inherently has nothing to do with sexual touch.
- Words of Affirmation: Those who speak words of affirmation drink up sweet, kind, thoughtful comments. “Julie, your hair looks so good. I love it!” “Bob, you did an amazing job on that project. I’m so glad to have you as a part of my team!” They want to hear that they are special and that they mean something to those they love. If you have friends or loved ones who constantly shower you with compliments, don’t automatically assume that they are slimy or trying to get something from you. They may be trying to say that they care about you! A thoughtful card, a sincere compliment, a genuine “thank you” to Words of Affirmation people is like pumping their hearts with love fuel. Loving words can motivate them like nothing else!
- Acts of Service: Who knew that cleaning the shower could brighten someone’s day? “You did my dishes… do you want to get married?” Acts of Service people feel most loved when others go out of their way to do something for them. “You swept my porch? That makes me feel so good!” “You fixed my broken computer? You must love me a lot to spend your time helping me!” If you are not an Acts of Service person, try not to be offended if you have a friend or sweetheart that is constantly doing chores for you. He or she is not trying to tell you that you are a terrible housekeeper. Your friend or honey is probably trying to say, “You mean so much to me!” in their native love language. So, look for little ways to serve your Acts of Service person. Does he need you to bring him lunch because he is swamped at work? Do her tires need air? Always be on the lookout for little ways to show your love through service.
- Gifts: Watch his face light up. Hear her squeal with excitement. Why is he so excited that you bought him that state of the art flashlight he was looking at last week? Why is a twenty-five-year-old woman jumping up and down over big, cuddly teddy bear? Because they are both gifts people! Give a gift to anyone else and… they will appreciate it. Give a gift to a love language Gifts person… and you have just said shouted, “I love you!” from the rooftops! If your honey loves to give gifts, chances are he or she also likes to receive them! Pay close attention to those items your sweetheart seems mesmerized by in stores or online and keep an ear open for comments that might lead you to a great gift idea. Does she always stop to admire earrings? Is he always mentioning a new tool he would like to have? Take note! And do not save gifts for birthdays and Christmas only. Throw in surprises all throughout the year. For a gifts person, the gift does not have to be expensive to be adored! It just has to be a tangible representation of your thoughtfulness and love.
- Quality Time: Turn off your phone. Turn off your computer. Hide your iPad from view and pay attention to your quality time lady or gentlemen! Quality timers enjoy uninterrupted showers of attention. “What would you rather have, honey? Would you prefer a diamond necklace or would you rather us spend the whole day together doing whatever you want?” The quality time person will choose the time. Nothing says “I love you” more than sacrificing everything else you could be doing to focus attention on him or her. It shows that he or she is a priority no matter what else you have going on in your life. It may not be feasible to spend entire days together (depending on your current stage of life), but most people can find time for an uninterrupted lunch or dinner once or twice per week. It will not hurt most of us (unless we are a doctor on call) to turn our phones off for at least fifteen minutes each night to focus our attention on our quality timer.
Love is Active
Maybe you are thinking, “What will happen if I don’t show my sweetheart love in the appropriate language?” If you do not know your sweetheart’s love language, but you go out of your way to show love in numerous ways, there is a good chance that you will communicate love to him or her. However, life gets busy and stressful. You may not always have the time to shower your sweetie with constant streams of love. Knowing how he or she feels love most effectively will help you maximize the time and resources you have. “Today is so busy. I won’t have much time to spend with my boyfriend. Since I know he needs Acts of Service, I will run by his apartment and straighten up his living room since he is having the guys over tonight for poker. He will be excited to come in from work and not have to clean!”
Love is active. What you may receive as a loving action (e.g., someone washing your car, etc.) your significant other may consider a kind gesture, but not a showing of love. Eric could spend the day fixing the toilet, washing the cars, doing computer maintenance on my laptop, and painting the living room, and I would really appreciate it… but, I probably would not feel loved and motivated because Acts of Service is not my love language. However, if Eric spent the entire day with me, uninterrupted, watching movies, going out to eat, and snuggling with me, it would scream love to me, it would fill my heart, and it would energize me. When you love your sweetie in his or her love language, it fills up his or her love tank more quickly. Your honey will feel more alive, energetic, and motivated.
What is your love language? If you are not sure, feel free to take a free assessment at Gary Chapman’s website! http://www.5lovelanguages.com/profile/