Some Spell Love A-C-T-I-O-N
One of my favorite authors on the area of marriage and family is psychologist Dr. Kevin Lehman. Dr. Lehman wrote a book several years ago entitled Sex Begins in the Kitchen.
Let me put you at ease, this is not a book about sex, at least not as much as it is about realizing the root of a satisfying and exceptional sex-life in the bedroom is a strong and intimate relationship outside of the bedroom. I reference the book because I learned more in the first few pages of that book then in many other endeavors. Lehman recounted a story of a woman who dragged herself home after a long day, exhausted, and dreading the pile of dishes and chores that awaited her. To her astonishment she entered the kitchen and found that in place of the pile of dirty dishes there was her husband drying and putting away the last few plates. In that moment this middle-aged, somewhat pudgy man with the receding hairline was the hottest and handsomest man she’d ever seen.
We have looked at people who spell love T-I-M-E and those who spell it B-R-A-V-O. In this post we’ll take a look at those who spell it A-C-T-I-O-N.
People that spell love this way are people whose primary love language is ACTS OF SERVICE. These folks aren’t impressed with what say as much as what you do. They also don’t crave that QUALITY TIME experience as much (not that time together ever hurts).
A is for Act
The thing that makes the story Kevin Lehman shared with his readers such a significant story is that the husband wasn’t asked or expected to do the dishes. He saw them and went to work on them. Loving a person with acts of service means seeing needs and acting on them.
I struggled with this for years. I was just oblivious to things my wife needed me to do to help her—and to love her with action. While we were in college, and both taking a full load of classes, the need to ACT became more apparent to me. It didn’t come naturally for me to see these things…it still doesn’t…but I discovered that by doing these little acts of service for her she felt loved.
For example, this week she’s been taking a class all week. It’s been a pretty intensive course and has meant hours of homework when she gets home. When she did finally make it home after class I determined to make it as easy as possible for her to do her homework and not be distracted or interrupted. It was not easy, but a couple days later she said—and I quote her exactly—“I don’t know what you did the other night, but I felt really loved.” I just have to say that this statement was better than any trophy, certificate of achievement, or other honor I could ever receive. (Did I mention that my primary love language is Words of Affirmation?)
C is for Commitment
This doesn’t come easy. There are plenty of times that I struggle with acts of service. the excuses come very easily: I am busy…I am tired…I am…I am…I am… Did you notice that all of those excuses centered on “I” and not on anyone else. Loving with acts of service requires a commitment to placing that person as a priority.
This is what I did when I scored so many points the other day. I made the decision that no matter what I was going to help her get her work completed. I was committed to her, and placed myself second to her needs that night. It’s not easy, but knowing that she felt so loved makes it worth it.
T is for Try
You might not know where to start with this. My advice is to try something you don’t normally do or have been asked to do. For example, if you don’t usually take care of the trash, do that. If you don’t normally clean the inside of your spouses car, try that. Try things and see what kind of response you get. If your wife usually spends time after supper cleaning the kitchen alone step in and work along side of her, or invite her to sit down while you take care of things. If she doesn’t pass out and fall to the floor in shock you might find that you have just put some nickels in the love bank.
I is for Incognito
Let me tell you where I have blown it before. I have done all the right stuff at times…worked really hard at serving my beloved bride, and thought she didn’t notice. So, in an effort to help her appreciate all I had done, I began listing everything I had been doing for her. Strangely this approach backfired and actually had a negative effect. Go figure.
The lesson in this is that if I have to announce all that I am doing in my serving of my wife then I’m not actually doing it as service but as employment where I expect compensation. The Bible would refer to this principle as “not letting the left hand know what the right hand is doing.” (Matt. 6.3) Doing something to be recognized for it robs the action of it’s opportunity to be a service.
O is for Often
How often should you love with acts of service? Well, I would think that if you are really loving with acts of service you are sort of always on duty, looking for ways to meet needs and help by doing. Make it frequent…often…seek ways to express your love in what you do, because sometimes actions to speak louder than words.
N is for Notice
Finally, as you make this commitment be sure that you are taking some time to notice the response from your partner. Look for evidence that what you are doing is making a difference. If you notice that it really isn’t then one of a few things may be happening.
- You have missed their love language.
- You have not been authentic in your service
- You have not given it enough time
Do not give up. It’s never wrong to serve your sweetie!
Gary Chapman, author of The Five Love Languages asks: “Can vacuuming the floors really be an expression of love? Absolutely! Anything you do to ease the burden of responsibilities weighing on an “Acts of Service” person will speak volumes. The words he or she most want to hear: “Let me do that for you.” Laziness, broken commitments, and making more work for them tell speakers of this language their feelings don’t matter.
Speak the language of love!