Sunday, February 9, 2014

What Love Language Are We Speaking?

My cousin Ashlee was married over the weekend, and we had the privilege of going to her open house yesterday. It was fun seeing some of my family and chatting it up and letting the kids play together. 

We gifted Ashlee and Robert with this artwork and a copy of what should be required reading for ALL couples - engaged, newlywed, married for awhile or even married for a long time - Gary Chapman's "The Five Love Languages"

If you think it's a "froo froo" book that is just going to spout a bunch of lovy dovy marriage tips, that's where you're wrong. It's a very informative account of how different people "feel" loved. 

Seriously, if more people change their way of thinking and concentrate on what they can do to make their spouse feel loved (the way their spouse feels it - not the way we wish they'd prefer it), there would be more happy and successful marriages out there.  

People express and receive love in different ways. Dr. Gary Chapman identifies these as the five languages of love: quality time, words of affirmation, gifts, acts of service and physical touch. If you express love toward others in a way they don't understand, they will not realize you've expressed your love at all. The problem is that you're speaking different languages!

Allow me to "borrow" some content from Dr. Gary Chapman himself from Focus on the Family (titled "Understanding the Five Love Languages). 

By the way, for a long time, I thought I was bi-lingual and my Love Languages were Words of Affirmation and Acts of Service. However, through some discussion with Chris and discussing examples from over the years and even years before we knew each other, we've determined that yes, I am bilingual, but my Love Language is Words of Affirmation and Physical Touch. Acts of Service becomes a close second.There is nothing sexier than a man doing things around the house without being asked. Oh baby! 

Chris's love languages are also bi-lingual. They are Quality Time and Physical Touch. I admit I have a hard time with the Quality Time as I usually tend to be going three or four directions at once. I have a hard time just "chilling". However, since it is clear that it means so much to him, I have made extra and hopefully better efforts.  I have to fight the monkey on my back that tells me I have to be productive all the time, as that gets in the way during the attention that is required for Quality Time.  Nevertheless, I know he appreciates it when I set all that aside and just spend time with him and not try to fill any holes with tasks.

Take it, Dr. Chapman:

Words of Affirmation
One time when my wife and I were visiting our daughter and son-in-law and our two grandchildren, our son-in-law took the garbage out after dinner. When he walked back into the room where we were talking with our daughter, she looked up and said, "John, thanks for taking the garbage out." 

Inside I said, "Yes!" because I knew the power of appreciation. I can't tell you how many men and women have sat in my office over the past 30 years and said to me, "I work my tail off every day, yet my spouse acts like I haven't done a thing. I never get a single word of appreciation." 

If your spouse's primary love language is words of affirmation, your spoken praise and appreciation will fall like rain on parched soil. Before long, you will see new life sprouting in your marriage as your spouse responds to your words of love.

Jill talking again:
Of course, we need to also keep a sense of humor and if jokes and well-delivered lines can make someone with this love languages laugh, it is filling up their love tank even more. I know it works that way with me. One of the first things about Chris that attracted me to him was his sense of humor and his joking around (well, that was after I saw his gorgeous dark thick head of 

How did we meet? Myself and a girlfriend of mine were hanging out with a bunch of friends late at night at a Denny's after a local casual college dance. 

Chris had been invited to our Denny's gathering by someone there and he showed up. The waitress was a little irritated at another obnoxious young kid/college co-ed showing up. 

She asked him, "Okay, What do you want to drink?" He replied, "Uh.....water...." She asked him what he wanted to eat. He replied, without skipping a beat,"Croutons!" In other words, he had no money. He showed up solely for the socializing. However, the way he joked (even though she wasn't amused) caught my attention immediately. The flirting commenced. He asked me out in front of everyone within an hour. However, as he was leaving, he didn't bother to ask for my number. I could have just become suddenly timid and chicken and let that go, but I figured carpe diem!  I said, "Um...don't you need my number?" 

And the rest is history.

Of course, in the journey of relationships and marriages, those same qualities can also annoy the hell out of your partner. After 19 years of marriage, when I'm playing the part of the irritated waitress (not being a waitress, but just tired, irritated and tapped out from work, kids, the day, or all of the above like she probably was), such joking around can not be as amusing. lol

Back to Dr. Chapman:
Acts of Service
Do you remember the old saying, "Actions speak louder than words"? For some people, that is particularly true of love. If acts of service is your spouse's primary love language, nothing will speak more deeply to him or her emotionally than simple acts of service. 

Maxine, who had been married for 15 years, came to my office one day because she was frustrated with her marriage. Listen to what she said: "I don't understand David. Every day he tells me that he loves me, but he never does anything to help me. He just sits on the couch watching TV while I wash the dishes, and the thought never crosses his mind to help me. I'm sick of hearing 'I love you.' If he loved me, he would do something to help me."

Maxine's primary love language is acts of service (not words of affirmation), and even though her husband, David, loved her, he had never learned to express his love in a way that made her feel loved. However, after David and I talked and he read The Five Love Languages, he got the picture and started speaking Maxine's love language. In less than a month, her love tank was beginning to fill up, and their marriage moved from winter to spring.

The next time I talked to Maxine, she said, "It's wonderful. I wish we had come for counseling 10 years ago. I never knew about the love languages. I just knew I didn't feel loved."

Jill Talking again:
Can I just declare how awesome it was to hear the vacuum running when I got out of the shower a couple of weeks ago? (I've showered since then....don't worry) Chris knows how to speak my language, but sometimes as in all relationships, it gets too loud to hear or we speak gibberish. But not that time. The language was spoken loud and clear. 

Back to Dr. Chapman: 

Receiving Gifts
In every society throughout human history, gift giving has been perceived as an expression of love. Giving gifts is universal, because there is something inside the human psyche that says if you love someone, you will give to him or her.

What many people do not understand is that for some people, receiving gifts is their primary love language. It's the thing that makes them feel loved most deeply. If you're married to someone whose primary love language is gift giving, you will make your spouse feel loved and treasured by giving gifts on birthdays, holidays, anniversaries and "no occasion" days.

The gifts need not be expensive or elaborate; it's the thought that counts. Even something as simple as a homemade card or a few cheerful flowers will communicate your love to your spouse. Little things mean a lot to a person whose primary love language is receiving gifts.
Quality Time
If your spouse's love language is quality time, giving him or her your undivided attention is one of the best ways you can show your love. Some men pride themselves on being able to watch television, read a magazine, and listen to their wives, all at the same time. That is an admirable trait, but it is not speaking the love language of quality time.

Instead, you must turn off the TV, lay the magazine down, look into your mate's eyes, and listen and interact. To your spouse, 20 minutes of your undivided attention – listening and conversing – is like a 20-minute refill of his or her love tank.

Men, if you really want to impress your wife, the next time she walks into the room while you are watching a sporting event, put the television on mute and don't take your eyes off her as long as she's in the room. If she engages you in conversation, turn the TV off and give her your undivided attention. You will score a thousand points and her love tank will be overflowing.
Physical Touch
We have long known the emotional power of physical touch. That's why we pick up babies and touch them tenderly. Long before an infant understands the meaning of the word love, he or she feels loved by physical touch.

In marriage, the love language of physical touch includes everything from putting a hand on your mate's shoulder as you walk by, touching his or her leg as you're driving together, and holding hands while you're walking to kissing, embracing and sexual intercourse.

If physical touch is your spouse's primary love language, nothing communicates love more clearly than for you to take the initiative to reach out and touch your mate.

Jill Talking again:
I'm pretty sure all three of our kids have Physical Touch as a Love Language too. I guess that makes sense since it's a primary love language for Chris and I. It was hard at first to see how Physical Touch was one of my Love Languages because I tend to speak a different dialect of Physical Touch as Chris does. Due to my sensitivity to heat and propensity with sweating more than I should (or any human should), I have been more resistant to touch. I also have some intimacy or fear issues with hugging, so I'm more resistant to hug friends in greetings and good-byes. But each time I push through it, I'm glad to have the friendship I do and I find I need the hugs that they offer. I do use humor as a defense mechanism though (which if you know me personally, that certainly isn't front page news). 

I guess as one may have a "speech impediment" with their verbal language, I have an impediment with my Physical Touch primary love language. 

I am in no way a professional to have the qualifications to speak on this matter. But as a wife and proponent of the concept of the 5 Love Languages, I felt this was an important subject to address. Plus, Valentines Day is Friday and it's good timing. 

If you haven't read The Five Languages, please do so. Dr. Chapman also has Love Language books geared towards children, dating, men, women and other specifics. Check them out. In the meantime, if I'm invited to your wedding, don't be surprised that a copy of this book ends up wrapped nicely on the gifts table. If you already have a copy, that's great! Give our copy as a gift to another! This is a re-gift that no one should be offended over!

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