I read the book as part of an Institute class when I was a single girl, with all the optimism of a hopeful Cinderella waiting for her prince. Recently, I thought it was about time I read it again as a "seasoned" (ha ha) married girl, still optimistic about my future with my prince of a husband. It's been a good reminder of how we can work together to make our fairy tale head toward "happily ever after." Specifically, I gleaned some ideas of what I can do to keep my dear husband content, receptive and open . Although I can't control those three traits, I can nourish them.
Basically, the premise of the five love languages is that everyone gives and receives love in various languages, although most individuals' natural tendency is to give and receive love in the same language. The book encourages you to first, discover your own love language, and second (and just as important), find out what language your partner (spouse, parent, friend, sibling, etc.) responds to (take a quiz to guide you to your language). Usually we end up dating/marrying someone who speaks a different love language than ourselves. Here's a quick definition of each language:
- Words of Affirmation: Lots of "I love yous" and reasons for that love.
- Quality Time: Full attention, free from distractions, and really listening.
- Receiving Gifts: If this is the way you receive love, it doesn't mean you're shallow and/or materialistic. The smallest gift or gesture holds great meaning because you know there was some effort behind it.
- Acts of Service: Stepping in to help out, especially when it's something you don't normally do speaks volumes of your love and appreciation towards your mate.
- Physical Touch: This doesn't necessarily mean hanky panky or excessive P.D.A. but can be as simple as a pat on the back or kiss on the cheek.
So, what language do you speak? Just as you can be fluent in many verbal languages, you can speak more than one love language, but you definitely have one "mother tongue." Personally, mine is Acts of Service. Coming in a close tie for second is Quality Time and Receving Gifts. It's important to me that I feel listened to, so consequently I make an effort to really pay attention to others and make them feel important and validated. I also love to give little meaningful gifts, like a note in an unexpected place or fix a special meal if I know hubby has had a long day.
It's quite obvious to me that Dear Husband speaks and hears in a different language than I do. His mother tongue is Words of Affirmation, followed by Physical Touch. We were talking after a particularly long and taxing day, and he simply said, "Sometimes I just need a little affection." Since he works from home, occasionally I'll pop into the office, not say a word but give him a peck on the cheek and sneak back out, and many times he'll say "I needed that." Now I'm speakin' his language and all is good.
Have you ever tried to learn another language? I have, and it's not easy. I tried to speak Spanish to the lovely Latino people at church, and to them I probably sounded like Tarzan, not knowing the proper pronoun to use or messing up the conjugation of a verb. But they knew I was making the effort, and as I put out 25% of the effort, they met me with open arms and the other 75% and then some. I think the same is true of love languages. It will be challenging at times, you may feel foolish or fear you'll "mess up" but as long as you're making the effort, that's all that matters, and from my own experience, it matters a lot!
So, what's your love language? And are you ready to learn another tongue? It's fun, I promise, so go for it!