Michelle is half Mexican. I am very thankful that she was raised in a home where English and Spanish were spoken equally, because I only know one language. She speaks both fluently, but I can only guess what she’s saying when she’s on the phone with her abuelita (grandmother). Imagine the communication hurdle we’d have to overcome if she didn’t know English just as much as I don’t know Spanish– I could say “I love you” and it would be as if she couldn’t hear me at all. This is the idea behind Love Languages.
We all “speak” and “comprehend” in our native Love Language. And in a lot of cases, your Love Language won’t necessarily be the same as your spouse. It’s why at the end of the day your wife may say, “I don’t feel like we’ve connected all day,” when in your mind you’re thinking, “but I made you breakfast this morning and scraped your windshield before you left the house.” You’re speaking the Love Language of Acts of Service and her native tongue is Words of Affirmation. Yeah, you did nice things for her in the morning to show her you love her, but you didn’t call her once all day.
If you’re not sure what your Love Languages are, stop reading here and TAKE THE TEST NOW…
… this post will wait – it’s not going anywhere…
Ok. Now that you know your top Love Languages, you should also know that this information benefits YOU. You need to know your spouse’s Love Language even more than you know your own. Yours comes naturally to you, and you don’t need to work at it. But in order for your spouse to hear you say “I love you,” you need to learn to say it in a way that’s most clear to them. So have your better half take the test and then share your top two with each other. Also, in that conversation, give them an example of a time that you felt most loved by them. Perhaps it’s something that they didn’t know even made you feel loved.
Today and tomorrow, Michelle and I will share some practical ways to love each other using the Love Languages. I’ll go first and start with some ways you can show love if your spouse’s primary love languages are “receiving gifts,” “acts of service,” and/or “physical touch.”
In his book, The Five Love Languages, Gary Chapman writes:
A gift is something you can hold in your hand and say “Look, he was thinking of me,” or, “She remembered me.” You must be thinking of someone to give him a gift. The gift itself is a symbol of that thought.
Receiving Gifts is my top Love Language. Knowing that, I have an apprehension that always follows this idea, and it goes something like “how convenient that the way I receive love is the most expensive way.” But then I remember that a gift isn’t always purchased. Sometimes it is… sometimes it isn’t.
I wrote a post recently about the time Michelle would leave me personal notes as I woke in the mornings. In that post, I mentioned how much love I felt through those notes. When Chapman says, “The gift itself is a symbol of that thought,” he captured what those notes meant to me. It meant she had been thinking of me, and cared for me enough to extend herself and use her valuable time to gift me something material.
There are other times when Michelle will come home from a shopping trip and I’ll find a York peppermint patty or a case of Virgil’s root beer, though neither were on the shopping list. Receiving these fires an image in my head of Michelle standing in line, seeing the York, and saying to herself, “Honey likes these. I’ll get him one,” which feels like love.
Here are some other ways you can show love if “Receiving Gifts” is your spouse’s Love Language:
– Bring them flowers from your garden
– Treat them to some time at the spa
– Don’t forget their birthday
Acts of Service
Gary Chapman again writes:
[Acts of Service is] doing things you know your spouse would like you to do. You seek to please her by serving her, to express your love for her by doing things for her. … If done with a positive spirit, they are indeed expressions of love.
Acts of Service is my second Love Language. I think I picked it up in my later years. As I grew older, I thought back to the way my father was always busy – working two jobs to support our lifestyle. Even though I didn’t see it in my youth, I see now that Acts of Service was the way my father expressed his love for us, which means it was probably his primary Love Language, and now I see it’s one of mine.
Even though I tested higher on Receiving Gifts, I think that when Michelle does something nice for me, I experience a more potent scent of love.
When I come home from work and there is dinner just finishing up on the stove, the flood of loving thoughts is overwhelming. “We didn’t have those ingredients, she had to make a special trip”… “Cooking with the girls around is nearly impossible, that must’ve been a lot of work”… “She knows I like to cook, but it’s also been a long day, so it’s kinda nice to not have to right now”… “I love good food, and that intimidates her, so she stepped outside her comfort zone for me”… and on and on.
Another way Michelle serves me and makes me feel loved is with my sock drawer. Michelle hates folding socks, almost as much as she hates divorce. I have embraced this pet-peeve and don’t ever expect to see her folding a sock – neither mine nor the girls. BUT, when I open my sock drawer and it’s full, and similar style socks are grouped together, I know that every last one of those was cleaned and placed in that drawer ONLY because she loves me.
Here are some other ways you can show love if “Acts of Service” is your spouse’s Love Language:
– Do a chore/task/errand they usually do
– Hold the door open
– Invite them to leave the house for a few hours while you watch the kids
Though this one isn’t very high on my personal list, it’s a no-brainer. According to studies, humans need physical touch to be healthy. I’m stating this only to show that the importance of tactile interaction cannot be underestimated. There is a real chemical reaction that happens in the body upon touch, and we need it to feel loved (some more than others).
Additionally, people whose primary Love Language is “Physical Touch” are easy to spot. These are people who in conversation will reach out and touch your arm as they talk, or people who greet with a hug or a kiss instead of a man-pat (side-hug-single-slap-on-the-back).
Michelle and I are PDA types. Holding hands all the time, hugging for a long while after we get the girls buckled in their carseats before we get in the car, and kissing in front of our girls are a few ways we show each other (and the world) that we’re in love.
Here are some other ways you can show love if “Physical Touch” is your spouse’s Love Language:
– When they’re having a hard day, hold them
– Six second kiss
– Slow dance at weddings
It goes without saying: there are multitudes of ways to show your spouse love. It’s quite a lot easier to communicate your love when you’re speaking in a way that’s easiest for him or her to understand. So give little things, do some small chores, kiss a lot, and #staymarried.
You are reading Day 23 in our 31 Days of Loving on Purpose series.
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