When I discovered “The Five Love Languages” by Gary Chapman my world was turned upside down…in a good way. Chapman’s theory is that there are five primary love languages and that each of us tends to have one language we give and receive love in the most often and the most easily. He says that often people are trying to express love, but those efforts are not getting received as love by the other person. This struck a chord for me particularly in my relationship with my dad.
After learning more about these five languages, I began to realize that although I had spent much of my life thinking that my dad didn’t love me as deeply as I wanted him to, in reality, he’d been loving me all along, I just hadn’t recognized his efforts as love!
Because my primary love languages match up well with my Mom’s (physical touch and quality time), it was easy for me to feel loved by her. We often shared hugs, snuggled on the couch, and hung out talking. But since my dad’s primary love language is acts of service, I hadn’t been receiving his love as easily. For me, doing a project together just didn’t feel like love.
When I realized this I began to look back at my relationship with my dad through the years and I started to recognize all the hundreds of times my dad was showing me love and I hadn’t received it. All the science projects, the rides to dance class, piano lessons, and softball practice, the times he helped out at my school, painted my bedroom, and took me shopping. In a way, all those things had been my dad’s version of big warm hugs!
So how can you be sure that your loved ones are receiving all the love you’re offering? I recommend identifying your love languages and those of your family members and then making an effort to give and receive love in the languages of the people you adore.
First, think about yourself, when do you feel most loved? And, what do you complain about when you’re not feeling loved? What might your primary love language be? Now, consider your child, children, or partner (or all!) and see if you can guess what his or her primary love language could be.
The five languages are:
Acts of Service
Words of Affirmation
Finally, make a list of ideas of new ways you can show love to your child or partner that they can easily and naturally receive. Also, include a few things that especially feel like love to you that you will share with your family members so that they can offer you love in just the way you most enjoy receiving it. Now watch how all your relationships will flourish! It’s amazing how a simple act of speaking someone else’s language can bring you all so much closer together.
I’d love to hear about how it goes. Please share a comment below!
Have a great week, Shelly