The Five Love Languages: How to Express Heartfelt Commitment to Your Mate by Gary Chapman is a wonderful book and concept that you can easily apply not only to your marriage, but all the relationships in your life. The concept is elegantly simple and can have a powerfully dynamic effect on how you appreciate, love, and serve people.
The core concept is that we all receive and give love in different ways. We most often give love to others in the ways we prefer to receive love. While all the Love Languages should be a part of your marriage, people often have dominant preferences. This can unknowingly cause a disconnect when the giver and recipient have different love languages because acts go unnoticed, under appreciated, or miss the mark completely.
1. Words of Affirmation
This involves providing honest, authentic, genuine, and focused compliments and positive, affirming words of encouragement. These help build another’s self image and confidence.
- Examples: Say how nice someone looks or how great dinner tasted, compliment another’s haircut or clothing, verbalize what a great job someone did, make a big deal about someone’s efforts /work, whisper romantic sweet-nothings, etc
- Keys: Focus on the other person’s successes, strengths, and interests / dreams she is passionate about. Remember, we cannot read each other’s minds! Writing a note or letter with affirming words is great because it can be revisited as desired.
- Important: Sarcasm, discourtesy, harsh tones, negative attitudes, and judgment deeply affect people who draw love energy from words of affirmation.
2. Quality Time
Show someone how much he/she means to you by setting aside special time with your full and undivided attention to just “be together”, focus on each other, and participate in shared activities / experiences.
- Examples: Plan a grandiose or simple date night, go to a baseball game, take a walk around the neighborhood, enjoy dinner or dessert at a restaurant or quietly at home, embark on a road trip, etc.
- Keys: Intentionally set aside the time to focus on the other person, and let her know you are doing that so she can look forward to and more intently enjoy the time together.
- Important: Do not appear distracted or hurried. Often it is a good idea to mute common distractions like television noise or a ringing / buzzing cell phone. When communicating during this time, offer more sympathy and less advice, more questions and fewer solutions. Focus on the person and not the problems.
This often gets a bad “WRAP” (buh duh chhzzz… haha) in our materialistic American culture. People who love through / with gifts appreciate any type of gift, large or small. For example, while your wife will probably not complain if you surprise her with swankily shimmering and sparkling jewelry, just picking up her favorite kind of candy or a single rose on the way home from work can make her heart melt.
- Examples: A gift she has mentioned on a previous outing, a goofy toy that will make her laugh, hand-made arts / crafts, a favorite food or drink, a gift card to her favorite store, etc.
- Keys: Gifts are visual symbols of love that demonstrate you listen to and care about her wants and needs. Ye old adage that the value of a gift is in the eye of the beholder is important to remember! Keep a stash of small gifts at home that you can pull out as needed when your spouse has had a particularly difficult day. For a gift receiver: It is OK to directly communicate the types of gifts you like!
- Important: When receiving a gift from a gift giver, not appearing thankful or expressing gratitude can really hurt the giver’s feelings.
4. Acts of Service
Communicate that you truly care for, enjoy and appreciate your spouse by going out of your way to joyfully serve him/her by completing activities without being asked. This definitely explains why some women get quite hot and bothered when their husbands wash dishes, vacuum, or perform other household chores.
- Examples: Hang a picture, wash a car or the dishes, take out the trash, clean up around the house, organize the cabinets, bathe the kids, etc.
- Keys: Perform the activity JOYFULLY and make a special effort to complete activities the other person particularly dislikes. It is absolutely OK to “toot your own horn” and let your spouse know you did this for him / her as long as you communicate in a positive, non-“score-counting”, and non-condescending way.
- Important: It is important to complete the activities as the OTHER person prefers, not necessarily the way you think they should be done.
5. Physical Touch
Whether it is a simple touch on the shoulder, a gentle hug, or a passionate kiss, physical touch is a powerful method for communicating your love for and comfort with someone.
- Examples: Holding hands, a lingering hug, putting your arm around another, a massage after a long day, etc. Your imagination can go wild here…
- Keys: Seek and give appropriate touch for the situation, environment, and relationship. Be aware of what makes the other person uncomfortable.
- Important: For Husbands – IT’S NOT JUST ABOUT SEX (and foreplay matters)! For Wives – YOUR HUSBANDS LOVES SEX! 🙂
This blog entry on The 5 Love Languages is Part 1 of 2