Scene: It’s early on a Saturday morning in 1996– only a few months after Scott and I were married. I’m sitting on the couch drinking coffee in the living room of our very small one bedroom apartment. Scott’s been busy moving about the apartment since he got up, which was an hour before me. The dishes are done, the bathroom is clean and the washing machine is working on its second load. Now he’s moved onto his next task.
Me: What are you doing?
Scott: (With one eyebrow raised, as if to say, what do you think I’m doing?) The laundry.
Me: (sighing) Yes, I can see that. Why don’t you sit down and have a cup of coffee with me?
Scott: Well, I just thought I’d get a few things done around here.
Me: (disappointed) Oh, ok. If that’s what you want to do...
Now before some of my girlfriends email me and say, Disappointed? The man did the dishes, cleaned the bathroom and was folding laundry. Why in the world were you disappointed? Read on…
One of my favorite relationship concepts comes from a book called The Five Love Languages. It’s been around for a while and it’s a simple concept (simple is good for this brain of mine).
Here are the basic premises of the book:
1) Each of us has a primary way we like to have love expressed to us, this is called our “love language.”
2) We tend to express love the same way we like to receive love.
3) We feel most loved by someone when they are speaking our love language.
4) Two people may be expressing their love to each other and yet they may feel unloved because they are not speaking the same love language.
5) Knowing the love language of those people to whom we are closest…
…can help us to better communicate our love in ways that are meaningful to them and meet their needs
…can help us to interpret and appreciate expressions of love that are made in another love language
For those who aren’t familiar with the book here are the five love languages:
Words of Affirmation: You feel loved when people speak encouraging words to you and verbally acknowledge your efforts and worth.
Quality Time: You feel loved when people spend focused time with you.
Gifts: You feel loved when you recieve gifts and small tokens of appreciation that are specifically chosen for you.
Acts of Service: You feel loved when others do things to help you.
Physical Touch: You feel most loved and connected with significant people in you life through touch. It can be a simple as a pat on the shoulder acknowledging your presence in the room.
According to Gary Chapman, the author of The Five Love Languages book, we tend to give love and measure the depth of another’s love for us based on at least one or two of these categories.
For me it’s easy to look at that list and identify my two main love languages. If you can read between the lines of that scene between Scott and me I bet you can figure out at least one of my love languages and one of his. If not, here’s the scene with “subtitles” ….
Me: What are you doing?
Scott: The laundry.
Me: (sighing) Yes, I can see that. Why don’t you sit down and have a cup of coffee? [Translation: Why don’t you sit down and spend some time with me?]
Scott: Well, I just thought I’d get these things done. [Translation: I’m doing these chores so you don’t have to work so hard on your day off.]
Me: (disappointed) Oh, ok. If that’s what you want to do... [Translation: I guess you’d rather do chores than spend time with me.]
Yep, we were speaking different languages from the start!
What about you? How do you express love and how do you like for those around you to express their love to you?
More importantly, what are the love languages of those closest to you?
There’s something to be said for studying their language and then speaking it often.