When I was in high school, the subject I disliked the most was English. I didn’t care at all about learning about Shakespeare, Greek Mythology, or the Lord of the Flies, let alone participles, conjunctions or prepositions. In fact, although I spend a good portion of time in my current career as a civil engineer writing technical papers, I still have trouble remembering the difference between an adjective and adverb. To meet the requirement of a foreign language in high school, I chose Spanish – the language I thought would be worth the most in the future and the easiest one to learn. To this day, about the only thing I remember is “Hola”, “Adios” and “¿Dónde está el baño.”
Fast forward many years and you can imagine my amazement when I heard about a book titled “The 5 Love Languages” by Gary Chapman. What do you mean there are 5 love languages? I have enough trouble with mastering just the English language! But a LOVE language too? What does that mean?
Little did I know that there are indeed five different ways to emotionally express love. Five different love languages. In no particular order, they are:
Unsolicited compliments, also known as Words of Affirmation, can mean the world to you if this is your love language. They are words to build someone up, offering both emotional support and encouragement to another individual. Insults can leave you shattered and broken.
Acts of Service is about serving one another, doing something as simple as cleaning the dishes, vacuuming, going grocery shopping or just saying “Let me do that for you.” Actions speak louder than words if this is your love language.
Receiving Gifts through a personal note, a bouquet of flowers, a special birthday or Christmas gift, or even a handwritten card – all of which show the thoughtfulness and effort behind the gift – is another way to express love. This language should not be mistaken for materialism. A missed birthday or anniversary gift could be disastrous.
Receiving someone’s undivided attention is critical to Quality Time. With the many distractions of electronic devices and the busyness of the typical weekly calendar of events, sharing quality conversations and activities together makes you feel truly special and loved. Failing to listen, or to be listened to, can be extremely hurtful.
Physical Touch can mean holding hands, hugs, a kiss goodbye, and yes – intimate time alone as husband and wife. But it’s not all about what happens in the bedroom. Physical touch can foster a sense of security and belonging in a relationship. Neglect or abuse can be unforgivable or indestructible.
If you are like me, your next question might be how do I determine my love language? You can find out in about ten minutes by taking the Love Language test at www.5lovelanguages.com, a set of 30 pairs of statements where you choose the answer from each pair which you like better. I took the test years ago, but tried it again this past Saturday night because your love language can change over time. I learned that my primary love language is Physical Touch, followed by Words of Affirmation and Quality Time. These are all true and are ways in which I prefer that love be expressed to me.
But what about my wife’s language? How does she prefer love be expressed to her? With her permission, my wife’s primary love language is Words of Affirmation. Whoa! I have failed so miserably in our 15 years of marriage in expressing love to her using her primary language. And I have not done the best in the other four languages either! Do I daily complement, encourage and build up my wife as much as I should, or could? No. Do I write personal notes to her or pick up a bouquet of flowers from the store on days other than her birthday or our anniversary? No. Do I fully devote my attention to my wife when she is pouring her heart and feelings out to me and needs me to not only listen to her but to hear her? No.
Taking the time to learn the language of your spouse, or your friend, or your child – and then actually speaking that language to them – allows a greater sense of connection to them. Reading the Five Love Languages book can help you discover why romantic feelings may have been lost in your relationship, but how emotional love can be rekindled. When you and your spouse start to speak each other’s love language, your emotions turn positive. With a full love tank, conflicts can be processed in a much more positive manner. You can begin to work together as a team – encouraging, supporting and helping each other reach meaningful goals. When you discover your love language it allows love to be treated as a verb, rather than a noun.
There is a reason why “love” is mentioned hundreds of times in the Bible. The Bible serves as an instructional booklet for our daily lives. So I leave you with one of the most popular passages:
And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love. (1 Corinthians 13:13)
Blessings on you day,
Scott Oswald, Guest Blogger