Okay, so you may be familiar with Dr. Gary Chapman’s 5 Love Languages. It’s the idea that people give and receive love in different areas: words of affirmation, acts of service, receiving gifts, quality time, and physical touch. There is a neat little quiz to find out which is your (and your spouse’s or child’s) primary love language. Pretty illuminating, actually.
I understand more deeply why we run errands together, as well as thrive in a small house. Our gift-giving to each other makes sense to both of us.
I discovered why it is so important for me to hear that I am loved, as well as why my husband says it sparingly with words but abundantly with actions. I know why I immensely enjoy making popcorn on the stove, as well as why I supremely appreciate that my family cleans up afterward.
Neither of us is wrong for what we need or how we give, and with awareness we see that we each are heavily giving to the other, and actually constantly expressing our love.
Knowing what language the other speaks, we can adjust to meet their needs. When my husband asks me if I want to go with him when he test-drives the car from his garage repair, absolutely I say yes. And he never fails to give me an authentic hug and kiss every morning, because that’s what I need to start my day right.
We learn to recognize that the form of love we are being gifted with is their most honest, best expression–even if it’s not the packaging we prefer. To them, they are giving us the most incredible gift in the world (and they are!). Think of it as the dead mouse left on the doorstep by the cat, if that helps. This is accepting and honoring the person for who they are.
We also learn to let the other know what it is that we do need, and to not squelch our own desires and preferences. This is accepting and honoring ourselves for who we are.
Here’s my big ol’ floodlight-bulb aha! moment: one does not replace the other. (Think: yes, I may think I’m more enlightened than he is about all this; no, I don’t have to be the only one making adjustments!)
Here’s my mini maglite aha! moment: allow others to participate in showing love through service instead of me hogging all the opportunities, it’s a major language for them as well. (Think: let others set the table too!)
When I realize that my husband is actually expressing constantly his love language, I less often need him to express my love language. Still, an unsolicited “I love you” or hearing from him that I’m beautiful, and I’m happily sharing movies I’d never choose. I’ll make the popcorn, he’ll clean up.