I’m not really into gifts. I don’t care much for flowers. I won’t refuse them. I’ll just put them in the only vase I own and set them on the kitchen table to die.
Nor do I need loads of quality time to feel secure. Working part-time, writing, and meeting the educational, physical, and emotional needs of three kids and a 2400-square-foot house and yard doesn’t leave much time for anything else.
And I’m not the touchy-feely type either requiring physical affection to feel loved. All the cheek-kissing of my Latin friends took a little getting used to.
On the other hand, you have no idea how far a single act of service on my behalf or some sincere words of affirmation will go with me. I suppose the latter run amuck is what led to my co-dependency.
I read Gary Chapman’s The Five Love Languages years ago. (If you haven’t, I highly recommend it.) The concepts are very familiar to me although the applications are a constant challenge.
Chapman basically hypothesizes that everyone has a primary way they feel loved and, in many cases, spouses, children, and friends don’t always “speak” the same love language which—as the Tower of Babel vividly demonstrates—can be disastrous when building strong, lasting relationships. Think of Greeks talking to Cubans, French to Chinese, Hindis to Navajo, all in their native tongue and you’ll understand how communication can break down very quickly.
For example, when birthdays come around, the girly thing to give is flowers, cards, candles, and/or bubble bath. Besides the fact that anything scented makes me nauseous, I’m just not into that stuff. Unfortunately, cleaning someone’s bathroom doesn’t rank very high in the category of popular birthday gifts, although if you did it for me you’d probably become my BFF. Not into cleaning my grout? No problem. Just validate me. Tell me how awesome I am and you’ll win a permanent place in my Hall of Fame of Friends. Or at least a spot on the Favorites List of my cellphone.
The problem occurs when we assume that other people feel loved the same way we do—hence the endless perplexity and subsequent bitterness of some couples when the wife wants to lay in bed and talk and the husband wants to…do other things. Or the puzzled and impatient parent who can’t grasp why their four-year-old would rather sit in their lap and watch a 20-minute episode of Blues Clues in lieu of tearing into the $50 gift they just bought them.
We often fail miserably at speaking each other’s love language because we don’t even know there is another language other than the one we “speak”. Close friendships grow apart and families break down because love tanks are running dry.
But there was one guy who was multi-lingual in the language of love. He was the ultimate Casanova because he actually created not just the tongue but every dialect as well (Col 1:16): Jesus touched the leper (physical touch). He turned water into wine and washed the apostles’ feet (acts of service). He praised the centurion and the Syro-Phoenician woman for their faith (words of affirmation). He spent quality time with the bleeding woman (who told him her whole story). And he gave all of us the most important gift he could—forgiveness of sin and our salvation.
In middle school band while I was still living under the delusion that I could be a female Benny Goodman, we played a popular duet by Barbara Streisand and Neil Diamond that portrayed a couple who never learned to speak each other’s love language. If I was Barbara, I would have sung, “Please don’t bring me flowers anymore. Just take out the trash, keep the bushes trimmed, tell me how brilliant I am now and again, and I’ll be a happy camper.”
What’s your love language? What’s your spouse’s or kid’s or best friend’s?
Love the posts! It is so true! Most of the time the challenge is figuring it out when it is unclear for the loved one.
The beauty of close friends; loved ones is “Grace” with this. When we are wrong about it. Still knowing that the effort was there; sincere. We all need to be deeply loved! “Perfectly” would be ideal.
Enjoyed reading this post Kim. I was introduced to the five love languages 2 years ago upon meeting my husband. He insisted, in a round-about way that I read it before we got to know one another better. 🙂 I am Words of Affirmation and once I found that out everything seemed to make sense as to why I had so many failed relationships in my past, even with my closest friends. I do feel that over time your language can shift as I remember being more of “Gifts” when I was a child and all the way into my 20’s. The icing on the cake here is that my husband is also Words of Affirmation!
Thanks for the post….My love language is acts of service, my husband’s is definitely words of affirmation, and my kids are physical touch and quality time.
Isn’t it amazing how they are all so different? Watch as your kids grow as theirs could possibly shift as they move into their teen years and adulthood, i.e., I’m willing to bet yours wasn’t Acts of Service as a child 😉
Mine is physical touch and quality time. Sit with me on the deck with the cool breeze blowing and enjoying a hot cup of tea, talking face to face for hours and I am in Heaven!! Brent’s is acts of service…clean underwear in his drawer and I am the Queen of the Universe. His love tank must get depleted when I’m backed up on laundry!
Mine is definitely gifts followed by acts of service. Thanks for another great post!
I do believe this is the key to a “Happy Marriage/Happy relationships” I love how you pointed out that Jesus showed all these
love languages to other people and we need to learn to deny ourselves. We need to reach out, find and show others their Love language instead of focusing on meeting ours most of the time..
Well I am Acts of Service, mow the lawn and I feel very loved. My husband is Words of Affirmation. So when I think that cooking a dinner or ironing your shirt should make you see how much I love you I am so far off the mark. Tell him how much I appreciate him being a great provider, father e.t.c and I have a very happy camper! Doing something that is not familiar to you and does not come naturally takes a lot of thought and sacrifice and I believe that is the point. God puts people together that are different so we can work on becoming more like Jesus and thinking of others more than yourself. I soooo need to work on this when it comes to my husband funny how I can be good at it with those outside of the immediate family but lazy when it comes to those in!!!!
Yep. I think we have to work harder on family because they are so familiar to us. We get lazy. We don’t have to “win their approval” as much because our children can’t just said “I’m not going to be your kid anymore”.