June 23, 2012

The 5 Languages of Love

I was checking out the New York Times Best Seller's list recently and came upon the book The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman, which has been on the best advice list for a whopping 255 weeks now. This of course peaked my interest and I went searching for what all the hoopla is about.

Well I will say this: Boy can we learn a lot in a short amount of time! Not just about ourselves but about all those around us. As Chapman's title explains, people show their love in basically 5 different ways. The critical thing to realize, however, is that not every couple shares the same primary love language. This is where, shall I say, the "He/she just doesn't get me!" might begin to take root, and where our "love tank" tends to feel a bit empty- which, is not helpful at all in our quest to age gracefully :-(

The Five Languages of Love is basically about zeroing in on what makes us feel loved and what makes our partner feel loved. Sounds easy enough.

So the 5 love languages are:

- Words of affirmation: such as "Gee honey, you look nice tonight,." or simply "I love you."

- Gift giving: in all cultures people give gifts as expressions of love (and of course for a lot of other reasons).

- Acts of service: doing things for each other- includes doing things around the house.

-Quality time: when our partner gives their undivided attention.

-Physical touch. Not just sex, but simple things like holding hands, rubbing a shoulder, or touching feet in the middle of the night.

I think I tend to show my love most with acts of service and physical touch. It's also what I probably do best. It's also what I like to do. But, I feel the most loved when I receive undivided attention and physical touch (do all youngest children say this I wonder?). Words of affirmation and gifts don't do a lot for me usually, not that I don't enjoy them. I think that hearing "I love you" or "You look nice" can begin to sound a bit empty if the other 4 languages are slacking (actions speak louder than words). Plus, I am not very materialistic. But acts of service are important to me as well. It makes me happy when things are done around the house or for me. It feels like we're nesting. It makes me feel like we are a unit or a "we", as I have often described it.

I can see how Chapman's concept can carry over and be very helpful in our relationships with people besides our partners, especially our children. I ran the list by my younger daughter and she was quickly able to tell me which languages of love fill her "love tank" the most.

In the end though I think that one of the most important languages of love isn't even listed above. One of the things that makes me feel most loved is when I really enjoy simply talking with someone- when there is synergy between us and we basically just appreciate each others company while discussing everything from the minutia in life to the bigger picture, whatever it is. It's about hanging with people who make us happy. In our crazy, busy, mixed-up world this isn't always easy to find.

 But when we do, it is simply golden.