Friday, February 14, 2014

Love languages for all: Communicating love

I thought being that it was Valentine's Day, I would write something about love. I didn't want to do a sappy, mushy, make-my-sisters-hurl post. Well, I did - just to punish them - but I thought this would be a better way to talk about The Guy, relationships, love, and interpersonal interactions between anyone (couple or not).

It's about how to show someone you love them in a way they understand.

You mean not all people "love" the same way? Yeah, that's what I mean. The book 5 Love Languages by Gary D. Chapman explains that not all of us give priority to the same things that others do when it comes to love. And it gives encouragement on how to show love even if you don't express it the same way.

The book indicates there are 5 main ways people show love: Quality Time, Acts of Service, Gifts, Touch, and Words of Affirmation.

Know someone who just wants to hang out, even if you don't do anything? Quality time.  Know someone who does little things for you without asking - like surprising you with shovelling your walk? Acts of service.  That little kid who brings you little gifts of rocks, paper, weeds, a shoelace, a drawing? Someone who loves anything you give them just because it came from you?  Gifts. Ever seen a couple who have to have their hand on their partner at all times? Or someone who constantly touches your arm while having a conversation? Touch.  Someone who needs to hear that they've done a good job or look good or are appreciated? Words of affirmation.

It's likely you identify with one easily more than the others. When you do, you will show people love by that concept. The question is: what if you love someone who does not put priority on the same style as you do?

This book encourages us to pay attention to how others express love and to adapt our own showing of love to incorporate that style into how we interact with them. The Guy and I are lucky. Our top two styles are the same, just inverted. We still have to work to show love in those ways, but it's not as tough as it would be if we were more different.  Others aren't quite so lucky.

My parents were more opposite. My mother was all acts of service where my dad was touch. Mom wanted people to DO things to show love. It's how she did it. Dad wanted contact. Just a hug or pat or even a bump with your shoulder. Since Mom's lowest priority was touch, she really struggled with showing him as much affection as he needed. She loved him, there was no doubt in that, but she really had to pay attention to how she showed that.

Now, my dad is married to a wonderful lady who is also a touch. They love to be in the same room, and will always wander over to each other to give a squeeze or pat. It's adorable. Now that's not to say that's all that is important. Tanya is also a quality time. Dad is not as much. They work on showing love to each other in ways that matter most.

Since reading this book, I'm more cognizant when interacting with friends, family, and others. I want them to know I love them even if showing them in the way they appreciate isn't quite as comfortable and easy for me. I love. Sometimes, I just suck at showing it.

How do you feel love?  How do you express it?


  1. That is a very good review of that book. I bought it after your Mom died. Read the Table of Contents, said "Oh." Never read it, didn't need to. Where was it 30 years earlier?
    I am surprised at what you observe and understand sometimes.

  2. Love that book. It's such an effective tool for communication. Seriously, I probably reference it once a week.

    1. I often look back through it so I will be reminded how I need to work to show in all languages and especially the ones important to Wade. It's always a good reference point!


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