The Five Love Language Series
The Five Blog Series on the Five Love Languages all Here and In Order
This is the series of blogs I just completed on The Five Love Languages.
Some Spell Love T-I-M-E
One of the books that I recommend to every couple I counsel or come in contact with is THE FIVE LOVE LANGUAGES by Gary Chapman. It addresses the way we communicate love with one another. More importantly it reveals for us how often we miscommunicate when it comes to saying “I love you” with more than words. As author Gary Chapman says, this type of miscommunication leaves one of the people in the relationship facing an empty “love tank.” For more about this I recommend picking up the book and reading it…I know you will not be disappointed.
For the next several posts I thought I might briefly pick apart these five love languages and how they work in our relationships. We’ll start today with “quality time.”
T is for Together
One of the first things you need to know about quality time is that it is time spent together. It can’t be accomplished via email, text messages, telephone calls, etc. Quality time is together time. If this is the primary love language of your beloved you will often hear requests for your time. Something as simple as grocery shopping together can help feed their love bank and help them feel loved by you. It’s about being together.
I is for Interaction
Quality time is giving someone time that is not divided by other interests or attention grabbers. For example, sitting in front of the television (normally) would not qualify as quality time. Togetherness is about more than being in the same location, it involves interaction. If the television, computer, movie screen, or children are getting your attention you are likely not interacting in a way that leads to quality time. Make sure that you are scheduling some quality time that will be free from distractions and allow for greater interaction.
M is for Meaningful
A key element of this Quality Time is that you engage in meaningful conversation together. In his own BLOG Chapman writes:
Like words of affirmation, the language of quality time also has many dialects. One of the most common dialects is that of quality conversation. By quality conversation, I mean sympathetic dialogue where two people are sharing their experiences, their thoughts, their feelings, and their desires in a friendly, uninterrupted context. If your spouse’s primary love languages is quality time, such dialogue is crucial to his or her emotional sense of being loved. Sit down. Ask questions, and listen.
One of the things my wife and I strive to do is get together and have coffee and play cribbage in the morning. It allows us some time, before the demands of the day flood in, to talk and enjoy time together. Another way of doing this is by maintaining a regular date-night together where you spend time talking with each other.
At a Loss of what to Talk About? Try these for starters:
§ Something you Appreciate
§ Some New Information
§ Things you wonder about
§ Something that’s bugging you
§ Wishes, Hopes, and Dreams you have
E is for Engaging
Being engaged means that you are actively participating in the time together. You have to be there when you are there. I admit that I can easily be guilty of being present physically but far removed emotionally and mentally. Your primary love language might not be Quality Time. In fact it might not be your secondary love language either. However, if it is your partner’s love language it is crucial for you to demonstrate your love for them through their love language. So be there and be engaged.
So…Give Time a Try
None of this is going to happen automatically, you will need to make it a priority. However, the more you engage in this practice the more natural it will become. Even if Quality Time is not your primary love language you will begin to enjoy the time you spend filling your sweethearts love tank, and you will learn new things about them that you might not have discovered any other way.
For more information and encouragement I, once again, strongly recommend that you pick up a copy of Chapman’s book The Five Love Languages. It’s available at most bookstores, Walmart, and online at numerous locations. I prefer www.cbd.com for my book purchases, but www.amazon.com would have it as well.
Check in later for the next installment on the Love Languages.
Some Spell Love B-R-A-V-O
Are You a Cheerleader?
Have you ever wondered why football teams need cheer leaders? I mean, can you picture a scenario where they are of any real value to the game? Imagine, you are down 35 to nothing. The coach has tried everything, the team is dejected, and the fans are heading for the exits, and it’s just the start of the second quarter. Suddenly a quiet but growing chant begins to waft through the stadium.
“Be aggressive…Be aggressive…B-E A-G-G-R-E-S-S-I-V-E…”
The quarter back leaps to his feet and yells to the rest of the team…that’s it guys…we forgot to be aggressive. With that the tide of the game turns and what looked like a hopeless slaughter turns into an overwhelming victory. At the end of the game the cheer squad if lifted up on to the shoulders of the players as they stride off the field victorious, thanks to the cheerleaders.
Sound silly? It would be if it weren’t for the knowledge that our words, or sometimes lack of words, can in fact have a significant impact on the lives of those we love. See, just like quality time is one of the love languages, so too is giving words of affirmation. Actions often speak louder than words, but not always. Let’s consider this love language as we see that some people spell love B-R-A-V-O.
B is for Basic
There are basic things that we do with our words that have a tremendous impact. It starts with simply being polite and well-mannered. I’m often stunned—and saddened—but the number of couples I talk to who have stopped being “nice” to each other.
As a kid I remember being reminded at least a million times to say “please” and “thank you” to everyone. They were referred to as “The Magic Words.” I’m not sure if these is still taught to kids today…evidence seems to say that it isn’t. However, in our most intimate and closest relationship we need to keep these words, and many more, active in our vocabulary bank. We have to speak to each other with basic courteousy, whether our primary love language is words of affirmation or not we should make this a practice.
R is for Random
One fellow came home from work with a bouquet of roses and a box of chocolates for his wife with no real reason or special occasion to celebrate, just to say, “I love you.” She met him and the door and burst into long painful sobs. He was, understandably, confused. She began to lament all that had happened through the course of the day…broken dishes…backed up drains….messy kids….burned dinner…etc….finally gasping a breath she concluded, “and now to top everything off you come home drunk!!’
Random words of affirmation will be surprising, and may at first be met with skepticism—especially if this has not been a regular thing for you. If you start today giving words of affirmation to you beloved, but before today most of what you had to say wasn’t worthy of saying, it may sound a little like a foreign language. Keep at it though, because it will pay off in huge dividends over time. Keeping it random helps us avoid getting into ruts where they are the same words at the same time which would eventually sound somewhat hallow. Surprise with your speech and see what happens.
A is for Authentic
It is possible to really go “over board” and become unbelievable with our words of affirmation and appreciation.(Appreciation would have also been a good ‘A is for…’ topic too) We need to be authentic with these verbal gifts. For example, telling my wife that she is the best cook in the world and should have her own restaurant would be exaggerating and she would see right through it. (Honey, I’m not saying you aren’t a good cook…you know what I mean.) It wouldn’t be authentic praise and therefore would sound hallow, albeit flamboyant.
So, keep you words of praise and appreciation believable and authentic. Talk about the traits and character of your spouse. Positively point out things that he/she has actually done that have meant something to you. If you start offering false praise it will become harder for the one you are attempting to affirm to believe that you mean what you are saying, and you will be leaving them feeling unloved once again.
V is for Voluntary
At first it may seem that you are having to force yourself to do this. That’s ok. As I mentioned earlier, if you haven’t already made a habit of being complimentary and courteous in your speech with each other it might feel awkward when you get started. Keep at it though. As this becomes a practice it will become more natural and essentially voluntary. I believe that you will even want to do this more as you open your eyes to the things your partner is doing that you might not have noticed before and as you become aware of the positive aspects of your relationship.
O is for Often
There isn’t a pattern or formula that comes recommended by the experts. I would simply say that the best frequency for these words of affirmation would be to make them part of your life often. A good time to do this is on a date night—which I highly recommend for every couple. Go to dinner, even if it’s the McDonalds dollar menu, hold hands, and speak affirmation to each other. As I said, even if this isn’t your primary love language, no harm will be done by hearing words of affirmation. If this is your partners love language, however, you will be loading their love tank in a major way, and you will be giving them a precious gift that there is far to little of today…
The song, “Home on the Range” talks of a place “where seldom is heard a discouraging word.” Truth be told that isn’t true about most homes and families around us.
Yesterday I watched, sadly, as a couple tore into each other in a public parking lot. Profanity, anger, hatred, all seethed out of both of them. As they walked sullenly to their car I wondered what it would be like in their home. Every couple has faced times of pain and anger…words spoken in haste. Making a practice of speaking encouragement and affirmation will change your home…and perhaps impact other areas of your life as well. Give it a go, after all…
Some spell love…
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!
Some Spell Love G-I-F-T
The next love language we will look at is getting gifts. This isn’t to be confused with materialism or greed. This is an actual time when the receiver of the gifts experiences love based on the thoughtfulness and effort behind the gift being given. If this is your love language, the perfect gift or gesture shows that you are known, you are cared for, and you are prized above whatever was sacrificed to bring the gift to you.
G is for Grace
Grace is one of those words that we say at a variety of times, often without fully understanding what we’re saying. Literally grace is giving something that is not deserved. What this means is that we don’t give these “love gifts” based on merit or performance, but just because we love. My wife doesn’t have to earn these gifts, and I’m not giving them as a reward for certain behaviors. If that is the case then it’s not really a gift, it’s more like a wage or reward.
If you are married or in a relationship with someone who’s love language is receiving gifts it is important that those gifts not be tied to anything except your love, admiration, and appreciation of them. Anything else will come across as shallow and self-serving.
I is for Informed
If your sweetheart’s love language is gifts then you want to be very careful not to just throw gifts together haphazardly. One of the things we need to note is that these gift don’t have to be costly. It’s more important that they are inventive rather than expensive. Being aware of what your spouse appreciates is a good idea. Here’s another example of blowing it big time:
We had been married for a short time when we celebrated our first Christmas together. I thought I knew Andie pretty well and what she liked. One time we had seen a nice aquarium in someone’s house and she commented on how nice it was. I filed that away in my brain. Come Christmas time I bought a complete aquarium kit and wrapped it up for her. I figured I had really scored a goal. I can’t really describe the look on her face when she opened my prize present to her. It was a mixture of confusion, disappointment, and curiosity. She had liked the aquarium we had seen, mostly because it was in someone else’s home and someone else had the responsibility of cleaning and caring for it. She wanted no part of having an aquarium ourselves.
Get informed by listening, watching, and asking. Learn what the other person in your relationship really likes. For example, now I know that Andie really likes a certain genre of books, so I know I’m pretty safe picking up a book by one of her favorite authors. I know that she likes a certain style of clothing, so again, I’m pretty safe picking something like that out for her. I know that she’s not really big on jewelry, so I don’t often get anything like that (and I’m grateful).
F is for Frequent
How often do you want to express your love for her? Hopefully your answer is quite often. If she is a gift person then look for ways to give gifts frequently. Remember, they don’t have to cost much. Really, the don’t have to cost anything. They just need to express your love. One of the simplest of gifts could be a hand written note—or get a little more creative and write a poem or short story.
A few years ago I was pleasantly surprised to open up my lunch and find a note on a post-it from my wife. It simply said, “Peanut Butter and Jelly is good for your Belly.” I felt incredibly loved and appreciated—and this isn’t even my primary love language. I really think that was the best PB&J sandwich I have ever eaten.
Because they don’t have to break the bank these gifts can be given daily, just be creative and sincere with them.
T is for Thought
It’s often been said that “it’s the thought that counts.” There is much more truth in that simple slogan than we often afford it. I have always found that the times I put more thought into the gift the better the gift fits. Like being informed, it’s important to think the gift through. There is more to think about than the gift itself. For example, handing a gift to a sweetheart in the middle of a messy diaper change might not be the best timing. Think about it, when can the gift be given and most appreciated.
Another thing is to think about gifts that really express the amount of thought you have put into them. Let your gift speak for you. Here’s something I did that was the reverse of the aquarium fiasco of decades past.
A few Valentine’s Days back I bought a couple packs of 3×5 index cards, two binder rings, and some markers. I spent several days prior to February 14th writing on the cards reasons I’m thankful that Andie is my Valentine. On that day I gave her a stack of index cards clipped together with binder rings that contained 100 reasons why I love being hers. That little stack of cards is still on her dresser.
So….like all the other Love Languages…there is a primary each person has, but all of these can be an expression of love for our beloved. So make them a practice.
Some Spell Love S-K-I-N
Now we come to what some consider to be the hottest and the most “awkward” love language. The Love Language of physical touch. These views are partly because it is assumed that the love language of physical touch is limited to the sexual experience alone. While sex is certainly a significant aspect of the love language of physical touch it is not the totality of it. Let’s think about it together.
NOTE: Regardless of the message of current culture, our peers, societal acceptance, the media, purported experts, and personal experience, sexual relationships are intended to be expressed solely in the bonds of marriage between a man and a woman. I know that this sounds close-minded and antiquated, but this is my philosophy and understanding as a pastor, counselor, and follower of God’s Word. Therefore, the parts of this article dealing with sexuality are written with that view in mind—I don’t believe they will be effective outside of the Creator’s design for the physical intimate realization of love.
S is for Sex
While we understand that physical touch is not just sex, it is part of it. Sex is a critical aspect of marriage, and if your primary love language is physical touch then sex is a tremendous expression of love. If your spouse’s primary (or even secondary) love language is sex then you need to know that the act of giving yourself to them sexually communicates love in a clearer and more powerful way then your words ever would be able to.
Please understand, this love language and the sexual aspect of it doesn’t mean that he is perverted or a “dirty minded old man” any more than the love language of gifts means that he is greedy or the love language of acts of service means he is lazy. This isn’t about any sort of perversion, but about how to best express and receive love in your relationship.
K is for Kinetic
Kinetic is energy, specifically energy in motion. It reminds us that we need to be engaged in the act of loving and not just playing at it. Here’s what I mean. Suppose that a man whose primary love language is physical touch is married to a woman who had a different love language. When she realizes that his need is primarily physical touch to realize and receive love she may be less than enthusiastic. The Kinetic aspect of this means that there is energy and engagement involved. In other words, don’t just limply hold his hand, let him know you are there. Don’t just rub her neck in passing, spend some time and energy on it. The more engaged you are and the more energy you put into it the greater the communication of your love and presence.
I is for Interesting
The Love Language of Physical Touch is interesting because it is not just about sex, and that means that you can find other creative ways to communicate love—even with your clothes fully on. I remember the electricity that I felt the very first time that Andie held my hand, so much so that I celebrate that day every year and have for the past 26 years. I remember with great vividness the first kiss she gave me. To this day the feel of her hand in mine, the touch of her lips against mine…the simplicity of having her arm resting next to mine on the arm rest in our car…communicates closeness and intimacy to me.
Keep it interesting. For me this means being playful. I love tickling her. I like to sneak up on her and rub her shoulders as she is sitting in her chair. (Oh-one sure fire way to discover if your spouses love language is physical touch is to see if they are always trying to touch you somehow…we often use our love language to communicate love to the other person in the relationship.) So, hold hand, brush arms, rub shoulders, tickle knees, massage feet…touch and you can keep it interesting without it needing to be sexual.
N is for Neglect
I feel the need, given our sex-crazed culture and the number of marriages I have seen recently fall because of sexual infidelity to give this word of warning. Do not neglect each other physically. If your spouse’s love language is physical touch (by the way, this is usually viewed as limited to men, but women may also have this love language) and you neglect to utilize this love language in your relationship with them you will leave them with a craving…longing…thirst for that aspect of love. Left like that for long there will be great temptation to fulfill those needs in ways they were not intended to.
Remember, it’s not just about sex, but it does incorporate it. Centuries ago a man named Paul wrote the following that he could just as easily have been writing today:
1 Corinthians 7:2-5
2 But because of sexual immorality, each man should have his own wife, and each woman should have her own husband. 3 A husband should fulfill his marital duty to his wife, and likewise a wife to her husband. 4 A wife does not have authority over her own body, but her husband does. Equally, a husband does not have authority over his own body, but his wife does.
5 Do not deprive one another—except when you agree, for a time, to devote yourselves to prayer. Then come together again; otherwise, Satan may tempt you because of your lack of self-control.
Causes of and excuses for neglect are many. Children, work loads, time, illness, bitterness, history…etc. Please…please…please…Do not neglect each other. Honestly, do not neglect each other in any of these Love Languages we have looked at. Neglect will have disastrous consequences for your relationship.
There is a very helpful website for understanding and exploring the Five Love Languages. There is an online quiz to help you discover what your primary love language is. I encourage you to do this together. Also, if you don’t have it already, get the book and read it together. It will change your relationship for the best. There are companion books as well dealing with children, teens, and even workplace relations.
I hope that these brief articles have been helpful. Feel free to pass them along, share them, and use them. Let me know your thoughts as well.
May God Bless Your and Your Relationships Now and Always!