Thoughts by Richard Bleil
This is probably a repeat topic, and it is definitely a plagiarized topic. Are you familiar with the Five Love Languages? The concept, simply put, is that people show love in different ways. What’s more, we also tend to recognize love in different ways. This is an important thing to recognize, because if one partner is showing love in one language, and the other is wanting love in a different language, it’s as alien as speaking Chinese to a Spanish speaking partner.
Although I’m hardly the expert, this blog is paraphrased from a book written by Gary Chapman, first published in 1992. In my opinion, you should think about and be aware of which language you use to show your love, and how you recognize love. My problem is that I often try to show love in all five languages, but of course some are stronger than others.
First, we have words of affirmation. This is something that many men are so bad at. I myself will write love letters (when I’m in a relationship) and make it a point to express my love frequently, especially on leaving and reuniting. Interestingly, this is also a language of respect, for example from bosses. I had a boss not long ago who would literally say, “if you don’t hear from me, it’s a good thing.” This is a horrible way to supervise, as the simplest words of appreciation go very far. As a supervisor, I used to write little letters of thanks to my people when they did something that I considered to be “above and beyond,” and was often surprised to find these little letters tacked onto corkboards. For my wife, I posted an entire new post-it pack of little sayings of love and affection (each individual and unique) around her as she slept so one morning she would wake up surrounded by love. Her words of affection for me, such as when I was having my heart attack, were endearing words like “you’re just faking it.”
Next, we have quality time, something that should be easy and yet is often a stretch. When my father came home, all he wanted was to be left alone, and on weekends he would watch sports, mow the lawn and drink beer. But I have to admit, some of my fondest memories were things like going to the Wright Patterson Air Force Museum. We didn’t do it often, but it’s true that memories are the only things that can never be taken away. I wish dad had spent more time tossing the ball with me or involving me more than he did. As a husband and stepfather, I tried to do this. I would play board games and throw balls with the boys and tried my best to do special things for my wife on a regular basis.
Third, we have physical touch. At this point, I have readers thinking, “oh, yeah, heh heh.” Yes, sex counts, but it’s so much more than that. I would give my wife full-body massages (without ever asking for one for myself as it was a pure gift) and would hug and kiss her frequently. Whenever I left her, I would kiss her with the passion of a man who never expects to see his true love ever again, and when we reunited, I would kiss her with the passion who thought she was gone forever. Honestly, though, I also enjoy simple contact. I would hold her hand whenever we would drive, and we would sit together in a chair that was a little bit too small for the two of us and watch movies. These times, this contact, meant the world to me. I think this is the language I recognize the most.
One of the more overlooked languages is that of service. Unfortunately, routine has a habit of washing this out. If she always makes supper, it’s hard to remember that every time she does, it’s an expression of love. I would never let her clean if she cooked. That was my way of pitching in and showing an act of service, and occasionally (maybe two or three times a week) I would do the cooking as well (no, she didn’t clean even then). For me, I also went to sporting events for the boys, and drove them to appointments. These, too, were acts of service in the language of love.
Finally, there are gifts. This is the language I learned most from my parents, who would give the gift of a roof over my head and if I felt I would be better off somewhere else I knew where the door was. They didn’t have much, but they did give gifts, especially as we became more comfortable as I got older. I have a habit of using this language too often, as I love giving jewelry and other gifts. For me, it’s not the value, but rather just my way of saying “I was out today and thought of you.”
Whatever your languages for expressing and recognizing love, it’s good to realize what they are. What language do you most frequently speak? What language means the most to you? Most importantly, are you getting the language you need from your partner? If not, it’s a great topic of conversation. Find the appropriate languages, practice them, and you’ll feel happier and more fulfilled.