Knowing the love language of your friends and family can mean the difference between great relationships and bad ones.
Have you ever heard of a love language? Do you know what your love language is?
Do you think this is ridiculous because people don’t have love languages?
I have to admit I was skeptical when I picked up the book the Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman.
However, just like learning about the personality profiles, learning about love languages changed my marriage, my relationships with my children and my understanding of my fellow human being in an incredibly positive way.
Chapman explains we all have a love tank. We each have a unique set of needs that when met fills our love tank.
Everyone wants to be loved, and especially in marriages and parent child relationships, filling each other’s love tank and getting our own filled as well is essential to a great relationship.
Love languages are easy, at first
When we fall in love initially, whether with a partner or a child, we go out of our way to show our love is many ways as possible.
We tend to be blind to our differences and minimize them at the beginning. As we move into the relationship, we see flaws and personality traits that clash with our own.
The euphoria we felt initially gives way to a more “realistic” view of life, especially when the other person’s love language is different from ours.
The good news is this is exactly where we can decide to dig deeper and create a much more intimate and truly real relationship with our partner, our children or anyone else choose to care about.
The Love Language of Words of Affirmation
So what are the five love languages? They are words of affirmation, quality time, receiving gifts, acts of service and physical touch.
As with personality types, most people have a primary love language with one or more secondary love languages.
Let’s start with words of affirmation. Mark Twain said, “I can live for two months on a good compliment.”
If you can relate to that, words of affirmation is definitely one of your love languages.
Many people enjoy verbal compliments and words of appreciation, but for those with words of affirmation as their primary love language, both compliments and words of appreciation are absolutely necessary to fill their love tank.
They don’t want insincere platitudes. They want genuine, kind and encouraging compliments and words of appreciation.
The just right Christmas tree
One of my favorite words of appreciation stories happened with my youngest child.
When he was in kindergarten, he asked to decorate the Christmas tree by himself.
I put the breakable ornaments on the top third of the tree. He decorated the rest as he saw fit.
He used approximately 20 ornaments. One or two were on the right side of the tree.
The rest adorned four branches on the left.
When he finished, he showed me his work with the biggest smile.
I didn’t have the heart to tell him he had done it “wrong”. Instead I told him he did a wonderful job and how much I loved our tree.
I left it that way the entire season. When I learned about love languages, I realized that those words, part of my son’s love language mix, were probably the reason he still helps me decorate the Christmas tree over a decade later.
The Love Language of Quality time
Quality time is another love language. The main point of quality time is undivided attention.
It means turning the TV off, putting the phone down and engaging in conversation and or an activity.
Quality time is a pretty simple and self-explanatory love language, but it’s not so easy for those who don’t speak it well to engage in it.
I speak from experience on this one because as much as I love to spend quality time with my family, our versions of quality time can be very different.
My husband loves working on a puzzle. My husband also loves golf.
I don’t love golf, but every Fourth of July I golf in our family golf outing. I do it because I love my husband and my golfing with him for 2+ hours makes him happy.
Children who have quality time as a love language want to tell you about their entire day at school.
They ask for stories or snuggle time and often want you entirely to themselves.
They share every detail of their lives and want you to be fascinated by it. These people crave quality conversation togetherness and face-to-face contact.
The Love Language of Gifts
The third love language is gifts and while this may seem like a very straightforward and simple love language it’s more complicated than you might think.
Many children love to give gifts.
They give rocks, flowers and any other treasure they happen to find on the ground to their parents.
If the parent receives the gift without enthusiasm, it depletes the child’s love tank.
The same thing happens with adults but it’s more subtle and difficult to see.
For those who are frugal and who have a different love language, this can be tough, but every gift is an investment in your relationship.
A thoughtful gift is more important than an extravagant one.
And to really fill the love tank of someone who loves gifts, occasionally give the gift for absolutely no reason at all.
The Love Language of Acts of Service
Next is the love language acts of service.
Acts of service is my primary love language. I rarely remember gifts, words of affirmation or physical touch, unless it is out of the ordinary or incredibly meaningful.
I do, however, remember when people do something nice for me.
One of my neighbors cuts my front yard because he likes for our grass to be at the same height. It takes him 10-15 minutes to mow, and it feels like such a blessing to me.
My children have learned that if I’m upset with them, they can turn my mood around by doing something around the house.
They learned that mowing the back yard, doing the dishes, making dinner and cleaning their rooms could get them out of a mess in a hurry, especially if they wanted a favor from me.
Those with the love language of acts of service truly understand the old Janet Jackson song, “What Have You Done for me Lately?”
The Love Language of Physical Touch
Finally we have the love language is physical touch.
The love language physical touch maybe the trickiest one of all especially with children.
As a baby with the love language physical touch is snuggly and cuddly, but as the child grows, the love will need to be expressed differently.
The child may still enjoy an occasional cuddle even into their teenage years, but a little one who used to hug and kiss mommy and daddy as a little one may now only allow a quick hug and that hug must be in private.
Instead, high fives, fist bumps and literal pats on the back replace the snuggles and cuddles of days gone by.
That can be a relief for a parent who doesn’t share the love of physical touch but can be challenging for one who does.
Bringing it together
So why do we care about these love languages anyway?
Well, in my immediate family, none of us is particularly interested in gifts.
In fact, my children have actually asked that I stop giving them tangible gifts for Christmas and birthdays.
Instead, my acts of service, quality time and words of affirmation loving family prefer experiences.
Because of that, we attend college post season football games, eat amazing dinners out, go to concerts and travel.
That way, we avoid having a stack of gifts we’ll never use. We enjoy the memories of those events much more than any gift.
Indeed, the memory is the gift. That’s what I call a win-win.
So now what?
After reading this post, I’m sure many of you know exactly what your love language is. If not, you can take the free quiz here.
I encourage you to read The Five Love Languages. It not only helps you to understand yourself better, but also to understand those you care about most.
Learning about your loved ones, especially if they have a different love language, avoids conflict and misunderstanding, and I don’t know about you, but I love being a person who makes life easier rather than adding conflict and chaos.
If you want to be a better spouse, parent, friend or human being, learning how others think and feel is important.
You become a more intelligent person. You become more compassionate, and you figure out that you can learn more from people who are different from you than from the ones that think and feel just like you.
To understand even more, read about Personality Types here. As always, thanks for being you and have a great day.