Recently, my husband read "The Five Love Languages" by Gary Chapman after much pleading on my part. Not because he 'needed to' but because I think the book does an amazing job of presenting clarity to the reader regarding these mysterious love languages.
I read the book years ago when I first moved to Kansas City, then again about six months ago. The concept that everyone feels love and expresses love differently always sat very well with me. It always made sense to me.
I was raised hearing "I love you", "You're beautiful", "I'm so proud of you" and "I miss you" often. Therefore, that makes me feel good; and loved.
While he had a very good childhood, my husband was raised with different signs of love, not words of affirmation, as described above. Therefore, its been difficult for my husband to understand these are ways he can best let me know he loves me.
I, on the other hand, was not prepared to speak his love language, which is "Acts of Service." My husband and his father have a very close relationship and do "handyman" things together often, which I believe is how they show each other they love each other. I got a little confused with the concept of Acts of Service because in my family we often times show our love through Quality Time which is different. For example, if I'm feeling blue my mom might zip down to Kansas City from my hometown of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, to spend time with me. While this seems to be an Act of Service because she is coming to be with me, it is actually Quality Time.
Therefore, for the longest time I thought my husband needed Quality Time. This is different than Acts of Service which would be helping with our rental properties, keeping my home office clean and picking up his dry cleaning.
From Chapman's site, "The 5 Love Languages" here is a brief overview of the descriptions.
Words of Affirmation
Actions don’t always speak louder than words. If this is your love language, unsolicited compliments mean the world to you. Hearing the words, “I love you,” are important—hearing the reasons behind that love sends your spirits skyward. Insults can leave you shattered and are not easily forgotten.
In the vernacular of Quality Time, nothing says, “I love you,” like full, undivided attention. Being there for this type of person is critical, but really being there—with the TV off, fork and knife down, and all chores and tasks on standby—makes your significant other feel truly special and loved. Distractions, postponed dates, or the failure to listen can be especially hurtful.
Don’t mistake this love language for materialism; the receiver of gifts thrives on the love, thoughtfulness, and effort behind the gift. If you speak this 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. A missed birthday, anniversary, or a hasty, thoughtless gift would be disastrous—so would the absence of everyday gestures.
Acts of Service
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.
This language isn’t all about the bedroom. A person whose primary language is Physical Touch is, not surprisingly, very touchy. Hugs, pats on the back, holding hands, and thoughtful touches on the arm, shoulder, or face—they can all be ways to show excitement, concern, care, and love. Physical presence and accessibility are crucial, while neglect or abuse can be unforgivable and destructive.
In coming columns I will discuss the various languages and what it means for you when one spouse speaks "Gifts" and the other speaks "Quality Time."