Gary Chapman explains that we express and receive love in 5 main ways. Some people need to receive or give words of affirmation. Others value acts of service as an expression of love. Physical touch (affection) is seen as love expressed by some. Other people value quality time above other expressions. The last common expression is through the giving and receiving of gifts.
Mr. Chapman tells tales of partners spending decades showering their own personal preference and understanding of love onto their partner, only to later understand that the other person did not perceive the efforts as love. Once we understand our mate’s need to receive love in their own language, and to unselfishly change our behavior to that of our partner’s language, the other person grows satisfied and content. Likewise, the other person needs to generously shower their mate with their own brand of demonstrating love.
The ins and outs of this process are explained in The 5 Love Languages. Imagine the woman who waits a quarter century to hear that she is loved. This is after receiving countless unappreciated bouquets of roses in the form of love expressed through gifts. Her silent spouse never understood the pain that his verbal omissions created. Or the teenage son whose parents work long hours to provide generously for his upbringing. Instead, he wanted to learn to fish with his Dad. Most of us read this book and recount mutual disappointments of good intentions missing the mark. And in many cases, the answer is very simple. This is basic misunderstanding and establishing different habits can make all of the difference between two people.
I recently listened to this book on audio. I had read the book once before without thinking to apply it to parenting. I have since done so. I have a new understanding of my children. For example, as a gift-giver, I understand that one of my daughter’s minimalistic bent means that she does not appreciate affection through gifts. This has been a blessing to the family Christmas budget, but I know that the few gifts that I select for her must be thoughtful and very well chosen. I now try more to praise her verbally, and in my busyness I try to hug the children in my family who are desperate for hugs as signs of love. To read this book and apply it is to bless those important to you.
Until you read the book, try to rotate the 5 languages, spreading these expressions around your family. Watch to see if it’s the verbal praise, the hugs, the time spent playing a board game, the homework help and after-school homemade cookies, or the little presents that bring the biggest smiles. To read or listen to the book is to then understand how you got it right.
Which is your love language? Find out by taking the online quiz at: