What is love all about? Is it a ‘many, splendored thing’? Does it ‘make the world go around’? Is it an emotional need? Does love have to be sacrificial? Must it be ‘unconditional’? So many facets to the word and the feeling…
Gary Chapman in his book “The Five Love Languages: How to Express Heartfelt Commitment to Your Mate” believes that each of us has our own love language and that in order for two (or more) people to let their love last, that we should speak the ‘other’s’ love language. We must not assume that the other understands us. Chapman identifies five love languages as: quality time, words of affirmation, receiving gifts, acts of service, and physical touch.
Quality time. Time spent together focusing on each other … not on what to eat, or making the vacation ‘to do’ list, or watching TV. Many people, both adults and children, speak the love language of quality time. Simply put, this means spending time and attention together talking, playing, going for a walk, listening to one another’s concerns, being together not only in terms of presence but also in heart and spirit.
Words of affirmation. Yes, words are important in this love language. Saying “Thank you” for a task well done or for remembering the other’s favorite flavor of ice cream. Complimenting the other on how nice she/he looks in that outfit. Expressing appreciation for his/her cleaning up her/his room, or the family room. Even writing little love notes to your spouse once in a while can help keep the fire of love burning brightly.
Receiving gifts. Gifts come in all sizes, shapes and colors, but the most appreciated gift is one that the receiver will like and enjoy receiving … not necessarily the one that you like and want to give. Perhaps the gift of self is the best kind to give. Physical presence in the time of crisis or at the time of urgent need is certainly a gift of love. Cook that special dish your spouse likes. Simple, heartfelt gifts like a cup of coffee and a chocolate cookie on a rainy day speak this love language.
Acts of service. Little things really do mean a lot. Washing the car, or feeding the dogs, or cleaning the yard if done with love (instead of complaints) can speak this love language. This is an opportunity for you to be creative in showing how much you love the ‘other’ by doing something that will mean a lot to the ‘other’.
Physical touch. It is well known that babies who are held, hugged and cuddled in a warm embrace exhibit a healthier emotional life than those who have been left alone and cried themselves to sleep. ‘A hug a day keeps depression away’ is a saying I remember from my childhood. Sometimes just reaching out and touching someone communicates “I care for you and am concerned about what you are feeling now.” Holding hands allows love to flow from one to the other.
We need to remember that love is a choice. Jesus chose to love us unconditionally. And throughout his ministry he taught in all these five languages of love, in one way or another, because He wanted love and the languages of love to be the distinguishing features of his followers.
How sad, how boring, how depressing life would be without love, without being able to express ourselves in the languages of love!!! I choose to love. How about you?
The Five Love Languages: How to Express Heartfelt Commitment to Your Mate by Gary Chapman. (Northfield Publishing, Chicago, USA. C2004). Reviewed by Nancy R. Catan, BCBP Manila