In preparation for A Cord of Three Strands II I thought it wise to share a bit on the The Five Love Languages. Dr. Gary Chapman (some of you would have heard of him or even read some of his books) is known for his Love Languages books (Singles, Couples, Children) which basically suggest that we express and read love in different languages, usually our own, unaware of the fact that our object of our affection might read and interpret love very differently. While one person might feel loved when receiving a hug (love language: physical touch) another might feel love much more when feeling appreciated for something well done (love language: words of affirmation).
He concludes by saying it is important we learn to speak our spouse’s love language, if indeed we want them to feel the love we are trying so hard to show. As both partners do just that, both feel completely loved. Now, there are couples where both speak the same love language, while (and this is most often the case) there are others that speak very different ones. It can be exceedingly difficult to express love to your partner in his/her language, since it is not your mother-tongue; it is a language you will have to learn.. and it might take time! However, as you put in the effort and see its effect/rewards, you will come to enjoy speaking that new language so much more; and with time will even become fluent in it.
So what exactly are these Five Love Languages?
Reverend Robina Edward summed them up nicely:
- Words of Affirmation
Mark Twain once said “I can live for two months on a good complement.” Verbal appreciation speaks powerfully to persons whose primary Love Language is “Words of Affirmation.” Simple statements, such as, “You look great in that suit,” or “You must be the best baker in the world! I love your oatmeal cookies,” or “You pay such good attention to detail”! are sometimes all a person needs to hear to feel loved.
Aside from verbal compliments, another way to communicate through “Words of Affirmation” is to offer encouragement. Here are some examples: reinforcing a difficult decision; calling attention to progress made; acknowledging a person’s unique perspective on an important topic. If your partner listens for “Words of Affirmation,” offering encouragement will help him or her to overcome insecurities and develop greater confidence.
- Quality Time
Quality time is more than mere proximity. It’s about focusing all your energy on the recipient. Unless all of your attention is focused on your recipient, even a romantic dinner can come and go without a minute of quality time being shared.
Quality conversation is very important in a healthy relationship. It involves sharing experiences, thoughts, feelings and desires in a friendly, uninterrupted context. A good partner will not only listen, but offer advice and respond to assure they are truly listening. Often others don’t expect you to solve their problems. They need a sympathetic listener. An important aspect of quality conversation is self-revelation. In order for you to really communicate, you must also be in tune with your inner emotions. It is only when you understand your emotions and inner feelings will you then be able to share quality conversation, and quality time with another.Quality activities are a very important part of quality time. Many people feel most valued when they spend physical time together, doing activities that they enjoy doing. Spending time together will bring a two people closer, and, in the years to come, will fill up a memory bank that you can reminisce about in the future. Whether it’s sitting on the couch and having a brief conversation or working together on a grant, quality time is a love language that is shared by many. Setting aside focused time will ensure a happy association.
- Receiving Gifts
Some people respond well to visual symbols of respect and caring. If you speak this love language, you’re more likely to treasure any gift as an expression of trust and acknowledgement.
People who speak this love language often feel that a lack of gifts represents a lack of love. Fortunately, this love language is one of the easiest to learn. If you want to become an effective gift giver, you may have to change your attitude about money. If you are naturally a spender, you’ll have no trouble buying gifts. However, a person who is used to investing and saving their money may have a tough time adjusting to the concept of spending money as an expression of caring. These people must understand that you are investing the money not in gifts, but in deepening your relationship.The gift of self is an important symbol of love. Sometimes all another desires is for someone to be there for them, going through the same trials and experiencing the same things. Your pat on the back can become a very powerful physical symbol of love.These gifts need not to come every day, or even every week. They don’t even need to cost a lot of money. Free, frequent, expensive, or rare, if the other relates to the language of receiving gifts, any visible sign of your love will leave them feeling encouraged and secure in your relationship.
- Acts of Service
Sometimes simple chores around the office can be an undeniable expression of support. Even simple things like filing and taking out the trash require some form of planning, time, effort, and energy. Doing humble chores can be a very powerful expression of appreciation and respect.
However, it is very important to understand what acts of service the other most appreciates. Even though partners are helping each other around the house, they will still misunderstand because they’re unknowingly communicating with each other in two different dialects (i.e. the husband notices his wife is stressed out with the kids, so decides to sort out other things that need to be done, in order to relieve her; when she would really just rather have some time to herself and have him look after the kids for a change). It is important to work to understand what acts of service will show your respect.It’s important to do these acts of service out of consideration, not obligation; to perform these acts out of the kindness of your heart. Someone who does chores and helps out of guilt or fear will inevitably not be speaking a language of regard, but a language of resentment.
Demonstrating acts of service can mean stepping out of the stereotypes. They may require a person to humble him/herself into doing some chores or services not usually expected of them. However, these little sacrifices will mean the his/her partner and ensure a happy relationship.
- Physical Touch
Many people feel the most esteemed when they receive physical contact from another. For a person who speaks this love language, physical touch can make or break a relationship.
In any relationship, it is important to discover how the other responds not only physically but also psychologically to touch.Learn how your partner speaks the physical touch language: some touches are irritating and uncomfortable. Take the time to learn the touches the other receives. They can be big acts, such as back massages, or little acts such as a touch of a hand on the shoulder. Learn how another responds to touch. That is how you will make the most of this love language.All enduring relationships will experience crisis and stress. Physical touch is very important. A person whose primary love language is physical touch would much rather have you offer a hug or a pat on the shoulder and be silent than offer any advice. This love language is different for everyone. The type of touch makes you feel secure isn’t necessarily what will make another happy. It’s important to learn each other’s dialects to enhance the effectiveness of your communication.
Still not sure what your love language is? Take the simple test here!
Having taken the test, or simply knowing by having read this, are you surprised with your”result”? Did you see it coming; does it make sense to you? Can you now tell what your significant other’s love language might me? Or perhaps that of your (close) friends and/or relatives? Feel free to share.. and somewhere in the comments I’ll reveal mine.. or who knows, some of you will probably be able to guess! *wink*