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What are the love languages?
Many of us are familiar with Gary Chapman’s book The Five Love Languages. In it, Chapman suggests that there are five ways we give and receive love – gifts, time, words, touch, and acts of service. And that knowing your spouse’s love language builds intimacy in your relationship.
The book has been a best seller, and for good reason! It’s true.
Temperament has a lot to do with our preferred love language.
Melancholies relate well to tasks, so they tend to like acts of service. So do cholerics, who want to get things done. Sanguines are more likely to go for gifts or touch. Any temperament can “speak” time or words.
Of course there are always exceptions, so don’t get stuck on the idea that if you are ___, your love language must be ___. These are just the tendencies.
If you don’t know your or your spouse’s love language, get Chapman’s book.
Understanding love languages is critical to having a great relationship.
Why? Because perception is everything.
If you or your spouse doesn’t feel loved, then you’re going to struggle no matter what you do.
If your wife is an acts of service person, you could spend a fortune in diamonds and roses and she would still feel like you don’t care. To her, nothing says I love you like taking some of those chores off her plate.
If your husband needs time, then your frantic running around to keep the house spotless, fold the laundry perfectly, and prepare gourmet meals is not cutting it. He feels loved when you to sit down with him and watch a movie, play a game, or just talk.
When you love someone, it’s up to you to make sure they know it.
Part of that is showing love in ways that feel like love to them, even if you need to stretch yourself a bit to do it.
It means communicating well enough to understand what he or she needs, and then meeting that need because you want to, not because you have to.
Speak their language, but understand when they speak theirs to you.
There is a flip side to understanding their love language and doing what they see as loving. And that’s choosing to accept what your spouse is doing, even if it’s not your preferred love language.
If your husband brings you coffee in bed every morning without being asked, he’s doing it because he loves you. The fact that your primary love language is touch does not cheapen the gesture.
If your wife is putting little treats in your lunch just because she knows you like them, she loves you, even if she’s not giving you the words you crave.
Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 13:4 that love does not demand its own way. If you only accept love that is expressed the way you want it and refuse to acknowledge anything else your spouse is trying to do, you are being selfish.
Selfishness is a death toll to any relationship.
So by all means, talk about love languages.
Read Chapman’s book together if you haven’t already. Do your best to express love in the way your spouse feels it most, and encourage them when they do the same. If you need changes, ask for them.
Accept love however it’s shown.
Just don’t forget that all those gestures that don’t quite scratch where you itch, when done from the heart, are still love. Notice them and choose to accept them for what they are: connection and affection.