I remember reading a book once discussing the 5 different love languages that we as people exhibit. I don't remember the author, but I do remember most of the premise of the book. A quick summary is that we each possess a dominant love language and usually most of us have a secondary love language as well. The love languages are 1. quality time 2. touch 3. acts of service 4. kind words 5. gifts.
Here is how it works: I am a quality time person. Please do not buy me a gift without planning on spending some time with me. I look at that as trying to buy my love. It becomes offensive to me because I appreciate being with the giver more than the gift. One Mother's Day my kids wanted to buy me something nice. They had put their money together and were trying to come up with a gift. I intervened and told them I knew exactly what I wanted for Mother' s Day and it didn't cost a dime. I wanted them to spend the day planting the garden with Michael and I COMPLETE with smiles on their faces. I had more fun that day being together as a family spending time accomplishing something productive than any gift could have provided me.
My other love language is acts of service. If one of my children or husband wants to show me they really care, then do something to help me. Our oldest son has figured this out. He knows to show me he really cares about me all he has to do is clean the kitchen WITHOUT being asked. Wow, clean counter tops really grab my heart!
My husband is different from me. His primary love language is touch. I am not just talking about husband and wife relations, but really taking the time to touch him. I try to remember to rub his shoulders when I walk by him sitting at the kitchen table. I know he loves it when I give him a hug out of the blue. This is what speaks love to him. I also see him as needing quality time to show him that I love him. This is great because we both value that one!
Often times we run into trouble as a married couple when we push our love langauge on our spouse. Let me explain. I dragged our children to Michael's shop one day and told them that we were going to bless their dad by cleaning his shop from top to bottom. We spent a lot of time cleaning and we did a fine job if I do say so myself. When he came home, I was very excited for him to go to his shop and see what we did for him. (Remember I like acts of service). He was not near as excited as I expected. He was thankful, but fireworks of love didn't gush from him. At first I was a bit irritated. After all I could have spent my day doing something much better. I realized that although he appreciated it I wanted him to feel the same way I would have felt had he cleaned my house.
I am not big into gifts, but upon occassion I do come up with a great idea and I act upon that. One year for Michael's birthday I took our son and we picked out the exact deer stand that Michael had been wanting. This was a huge surprise for him. This was out of the ordinary in our home. I expected him to be thrilled beyond measure. He appreciated the gift, but he didn't make that big of deal of it. I could have been hurt by his response, but I know that for him gifts are not that big of a deal so he doesn't just jump up and down about a gift.
Our children also have their love language as well. For instance, I have two boys that have the primary love language of touch. Both of these boys will curl up on the couch with me any chance they get. Our 16 year old has no problem laying his head on my shoulder even in public! He loves me to come and scratch his back without asking me. Our second son is not that way. He is much more of a quality time type person. He will seek us out to spend time doing something meaningful with him. This is the way we show him we really value him and care about him.
Our daughter is a gift giver and receiver. (I use to think that this love language was a bit on the selfish side, but Hope has totally changed my perception of this). She will start at least one month in advance when she wants to give a gift. For Michael's birthday, she was telling me the day AFTER Christmas that we needed to start thinking about her Daddy's birthday. That was well over 2 months away, and it wasn't even in my thoughts. She spent 2 weeks before his birthday cutting out decorations and making plans. She even got her brother involved in her plans. She spent a long time making her dad a picture scrapbook of farm animals and pictures of her and him. She had it made and wrapped a week before the day. She put much of herself into making his birthday a special day. She also sees gifts that she receives as acts of love. I didn't understand that way of thinking at first. She has helped me grow in this area so much.
A few years past, Michael grabbed something for Hope for Valentine's Day. It was a small gift and very out of the ordinary because he and I don't celebrate this holiday at all. That gift touched her heart so much. She felt such a love for her dadddy because he took a few extra minutes to do something special just for her. He quickly realized that this was something that they would enjoy for years to come. Hope and her Dad still make valentine's day special. This year he is looking for her a bunny. She has wanted a rabbit for sometime, and he has told her for well over a year that he would get one for her. I purchased a used cage, and now all he has to do is to come up with a rabbit. (Too bad he can't just pull one out of his hat)!
I know this post has gotten a bit long. However, I truly believe that book has saved Michael and I a lot of frustration throughout the years. I try to take into consideration what speaks love to him and do that for him instead of just what I would want somebody to do for me. When I speak HIS love language to him, he always exhibits the reaction that I am expecting and I feel like the queen of his heart.
grace and peace,