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A close-up of a newly opened delphinium flower (Summer 2013).

Monday, February 14, 2011

Languages of Love

We cannot rely on our native tongue if our spouse does not understand it. If we want them to feel the love we are trying to communicate, we must express it in his or her primary love language.

I had two surprises this Valentine's Day from my husband, Deane. One was a dozen roses, which he gave me last Friday night, saying that he bought them early in case the rose supply runs out. As you know Canada imports roses primarily from the US. That was my first Valentine surprise.

The second Valentine's Day surprise I received from him was this morning. I found them on my side of the dining table. There was a dandy Valentine's card with a touching dedication, complete with all the red and pink colors and a sapphire stone on top of the card. With the card was an iTunes gift card worth $50 and a book by Gary Chapman, entitled "The 5 Love Languages".  Deane is the sweetest person when it comes to knowing what gifts to give me.

I thought I would share with you what Gary Chapman has to say about the 5 languages that will make love last. They are summarized below:

Love Language 1. Words of Affirmation: Since words has the power of life and death, use words that build up. Verbally affirm each other by using verbal compliments and words of appreciation such as "Wow, you look hot in that dress", "Thanks for picking me up on time", "I love how you are responsible", and say them sincerely. This is not about flattery. The intention in doing this is for the well-being of the one you love. As Mark Twain once said, "I can live for two months on a good compliment." Don't forget the importance of how you speak--use kind words, make requests but don't demand. 

Love Language 2. Quality Time: This means giving someone your undivided attention. It means taking a walk, just the two of you, or going out to eat and looking at each other and talking. Try quality conversation, which is a sympathetic form of dialogue where the two of you can share your experiences, thoughts, feelings, and desires, in a friendly, uninterrupted context. Whereas words of affirmation is all about what we are saying, quality conversation is about what we are hearing. In addition, quality time involves quality activities to experience something together--putting up a garden together, visiting historic neighborhood, cooking together. Quality time in terms of doing activities together will serve as  positive memory bank in the years to come. 

Love Language 3. Giving Gifts: (Gary Chapman titled this sub-heading as Receiving Gifts. However, in reading this section, I have the impression that it was more about giving than receiving. So I took the liberty of renaming this sub-heading.) Gifts are visual symbols of love. It is not only the thought in the mind of the giver that counts but in actually securing the gift and giving it as an expression of love. Gift-giving, which need not be expensive, is  an investment in your relationship, fulfilling your spouse's emotional love tank. A more important gift is the gift of your self, when you are physically present when you are needed the most. Being in the hospital with your wife when she has a health problem or being around to cook chicken soup for your sick spouse are examples of self-presence, contextualized as the gift of presence.

Love Language 4. Acts of Service: Cooking a meal, washing dishes, vacuuming, paying the bills, fixing the leaky faucet, bathing the baby, and helping with house chores--these are all acts of service and when done with a positive spirit, they are expressions of love. However, love is a choice and cannot be coerced or demanded. Acts of service must stem from recognizing the emotional needs of your spouse. Show your love with the following examples: helping with house chores--"Today, I will show my love by..."(complete the sentence by doing some house chores); changing the nag into tag (what one act of service has your spouse nagged about consistently?).

Love Language 5. Physical Touch: Physical touch is a way of communicating love. It includes holding hands, kissing, hugging and sexual intercourse. It can make or break a relationship. To touch your spouse in a way that is pleasurable is communicating love. Insisting on touching her/him your way and on your own time, in a manner that is uncomfortable or irritating can communicate the opposite. It implies that you are not sensitive to your spouse's needs and you care very little about her/his pleasure. We cannot always change events but we can survive if we feel loved and one way of experiencing love is to be touched. This is obvious when, in a crises or tragedy, family members would hug one another for comfort and solace. 

Gary Chapman suggested three ways to discover your primary love language (out of the 5 languages):
  1. What does your spouse do or fail to do that hurts you most deeply? The opposite of what hurts you is probably your love language.
  2. What have you most often requested of your spouse? The thing you have most often requested is likely the thing that would make you feel most loved.
  3. In what way do you regularly express love to your spouse? Your method of expressing love may be an indication that that would also make you feel loved.
So there you go, the book by Gary Chapman in summary form. I hope you can learn something about your language of love to help you improve your relationship with your spouse or partner.

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Have a great week, dear readers!