The 5 Love Languages – Just in Time for Valentine’s Day
By Audrey van Petegem, Senior Editor
With Valentine's Day around the corner and references to the celebration of love and romance to be seen everywhere, I thought that it was timely to finally read this book that has been – repeatedly – recommended over the years. Before I had my two youngest daughters, a girlfriend mentioned the “must read” book “The 5 Love Languages” by Gary Chapman. I must say that even though the book title kept popping up, I never paid much attention until I recently received a copy. I read it mainly to learn more about the relationship with my children – okay truth be told, for my teenage son – but also found it invaluable for my relationship with my husband.
The premise of the book is that we all feel and know that we are loved by how people relate to us. There are five “languages” that we can fall under that make us feel truly loved. They are: Words of Affirmation, Quality Time, Receiving Gifts, Acts of Service and Personal Touch. We, of course, will fall into more than one category but one will resonate more than the others. Finding the right language is the key to helping a person feel loved.
Words of Affirmation
This is really as simple as “to love me is to talk to me”. My youngest daughter, who is only four, falls under this category. Although we may be baking, reading or playing a game together, it is the verbal communication that she enjoys the most. The key is to give her your undivided attention, plus be aware of the tone of your voice and the words that you use. This really goes for anyone, but what is different with people who resonate with this love language is that they take words personally. When I reprimand Adanna I have to be careful with my tone and words. Where I would need to give her siblings a strong tone in my voice and/or a time out, for her I just need to tell her what she did that was not okay. She gets it. We used to say she was so sensitive but after reading this book it is more that she hears the words I say and how I say it more clearly than her siblings. To her, when I say “I love you” she knows I mean it. One day she told me that she loved me to her heart. How can you beat that.
This is “to love them is to spend time with them”. For my seven year old daughter Thea, to give her my complete attention is how she knows I love her. She is the one who always wants to play games or go for a bike ride together. It is important for her to be with the people that love her. As a busy family of five, we seldom eat dinner together, but Thea is always the one to pull us all to the dinner table. I also fall under this category. For me, I need those date nights with my husband. I need to have that first cup of coffee in the morning with him. It is not that we need to be with a person all the time. Quite the opposite actually. We are happy with just 20 minutes at a time, if that is all we can get, but it has to be a time where we really connect with each other.
We all love receiving gifts (a little bling now and again can NEVER hurt a relationship), but for a person whose language is “to love me is to buy me things”, receiving a gift is a demonstration of love. It gives them a tangible symbol that they can hold onto. When they look at the gift they think, “this person thinks of me and loves me”. Even as a very young child, my oldest, Chase loved and cherished gifts that were given to him from the people who love him. These gifts had nothing to do with monetary value, it could be a shell found on a beach or something one of his grandparents found in their home that they thought he would like. It is important for Chase to “see” that he is loved (especially now that he is a teenager). So, I still buy him a pack of gum or a little treat, which I place on his desk for him to find when he comes home.
Acts of Service
For this person “to love them is to do things for them”. It is doing things for that person that you know that they would like. Although no one in my immediate family needs this language to feel loved, I do know friends that do. For them, it is important that certain things are done for them. This does not mean being taken advantage of. It is of loving them in their language by knowing what they like. It could be as simple as knowing she likes the toilet seat down or he likes not to have any clutter around.
Touching has always been a way to communicate that you love someone. We all need to be hugged, kissed and held for our physical and emotional well being, but with the person whose language is “to love them is to touch them”, it goes one step further. Without it they feel completely unloved. My husband Scott falls under this language. When we started dating we always spooned on the couch together, snuggling as we talked or watched TV. Now that couches are smaller (ahem) we can no longer do this but we still touch, even if it is just our toes. After 25 years of marriage we still hold hands. I anticipate we will be one of those cute couples in our 90's when we will still hold hands and kiss in public. At least I hope so.
Understanding the primary language of the people you love and choosing to speak it makes a tremendous difference in the relationships you have with them. 5 Love Languages has an online quiz for you to take to discover your own love language. I suggest that your significant other take it also. 5 Languages of Love can be purchased on Amazon as well as other books that Gary Chapman has written. I would love to hear how this new discovery has changed your relationships with the ones you love.