I’ve thought a lot the last few days about the just how important it is that we try and understand the people we love’s love language. If your not familiar with what I mean by the term ‘love language’ it stems from a book titled “The Five Love Languages” written by Gary Chapman in which he explains there are five different ways to express and experience love, which are:
1. Words of affirmation
3. Acts of Service
4. Quality time
5. Physical touch
He explains that we all tend to express love to others in the way we ourselves would like to experience love ourselves. So if we feel loved when we receive a gift we typically give gifts to others to express our love for them.
The problem with doing that is if the person you are giving the gift to speaks a different love language than you, such as quality time, when you give them a gift they don’t see it as an expression of love. So you end up feeling hurt that the person you gave the gift to seems unappreciative of the love your expressing to them, and the recipient is feeling hurt that you aren’t giving them the quality time they needed in order to feel loved by you.
He goes on to explain that for us to demonstrate we care about someone we have to do it in a language the recipient understands. To know which love language they will understand we have to pay attention to what love language they tend to speak. If they show love by doing acts of service for others than to show them you love them you need to do an act of service for them. Or if they show love by hugging others than to show them love you’ll need to hug them. And so on…
My husband and I learned each others love language when we attended a marriage workshop in which they asked us to do the follow exercise:
Each of us had to write down the top three things our spouse did for us that made us feel most loved. Next we had to write down the top three things we did for our spouse to show them we loved them. Finally we were told to exchange lists and read them. We were both shocked to find that the things the other said made them feel most loved weren’t things we’d each been doing because we didn’t think they were important. And when we read the list of what each other had been doing in an attempt to show love it was clear we’d both been trying like crazy to express our love but in ways that completely missed the mark. As a result we’d both been feeling unloved and unappreciated by the other when really we’d loved each other the entire time but weren’t speaking in the love language the other could understand. And once we figured that out our marriage improved tenfold by simply showing love in the way we each needed to feel it.
If we want those we care about to feel of our love we have to speak to each of them in the language they understand. Not only with our spouse, but I’m learning its equally important with each of our children. Because children also feel loved when spoken to in the language they understand.
It’s no small task to learn to speak so many languages at once, but letting those we love feel it in a way they understand improves everything in those relationships tenfold – that’s why we all need to become linguists!
~Amy Rees Anderson (author of the book “What Awesome Looks Like: How To Excel in Business & Life” )