Have you taken a meal, encouraged a friend, or scheduled your day around having coffee with somebody, only it didn’t have the effect you intended? They didn’t feel the love behind your efforts?
Gary Chapman clarifies so articulately the 5 different ways people show and receive love. We can dramatically increase how our friends and family are feeling loved by understanding what love language they speak. It also helps to understand your own and then share that information with those closest to you.
For example, if you feel loved by quality time together and your husband is showing you love by washing your car, there is a disconnect between his efforts and your love tank.
When my husband and I returned from a trip, we brought each of our children a small gift. My first child opened his gift and was so excited we thought of him. He disappeared for hours to play with it. My next child set aside the gift focusing her attention on hearing every detail about our experience. My 3rd child could also care less about the gift or our stories, and only wanted to physically sit in our lap. They each felt our love in different ways.
So let’s take a deeper look into these 5 Love Languages. At the end of this post there is a link to take a quiz to discover your own.
1. Words of Encouragement or Affirmation
- This love language uses words to affirm other people. Compliments are important and insults can be highly discouraging.
2. Acts of Service
- For this love language, actions speak louder than words. This is the woman who brings you meals when you are sick or the uncle that never misses your child’s soccer game. They don’t speak it, they do it. Removing pressure off a spouse by doing household chores IS this person’s act of love. Laziness or broken commitments makes this person not feel valued.
3. Quality Time
- This love language is all about giving the other person your undivided attention. This is the girlfriend that shows up after a breakup to just be there for you. This person needs quality time with you to feel connected. Conversely, cancelling on this person could be very hurtful to them.
4. Physical Touch
- Nothing is more meaningful to this person than appropriate touch. Hugs, hand holding, a touch of the arm all give the person a sense of belonging. The lack of it can be destructive to this relationship.
5. Gift Giving
- For those with this love language, they feel most loved when receiving a gift. In turn, they show love by giving gifts. It is not the materialistic aspect of gifts that drive them, but the thoughtfulness and effort behind it.
So our goal is to understand both our own love language and that of our loved ones. We need to express our love in the other person’s love language, not just our own. Conversely, letting your spouse/friend/parent know what makes you feel the most loved, will help them focus in the right areas.
What does that look like exactly? Here’s an example.
My sister shows and receives love by encouraging others. But her husband is Acts of Service which says show me love through your actions. She had been verbally encouraging him but he just wanted her to make his lunch for work. She, in turn, wanted to be told she was a great wife, but he was showing her love by washing her car. Once they understood each other’s love languages, they started speaking the others language. She began doing small things for him here and there, and he started verbalizing what a great mom she was. Immediately, they both were feeling more loved.
This is a great tool to express your love better to those who matter to you most. It also explains why you may not be feeling the love from a friend or spouse when in reality it’s just being spoken differently.
Take the Quiz here to learn your love language!
Buy the book here The 5 Love Languages or the 5 Love Language of Children (amazon affiliate)
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