Have you all heard of the concept of the 5 Love Languages? Introduced in 1995 via his book of the same title, Gary Chapman suggested that people communicate love in 5 basic ways. Knowing your own love language and that of your partner helps couples express love in the most effective way. The categories are: words of affirmation, acts of service, receiving gifts, quality time, and physical touch. If you are interested, there are about 101 quizes online to determine your love language.
I didn’t even need to take the quiz to peg my wife and I. I am a classic ‘acts of service girl’. I’ll never forget how loved I felt when my wife woke up early on a Saturday to shovel the driveway and ensure that I could get to a hair appointment I had been really looking forward to. And my wife? Well she is 110% ‘physical touch’. It is helpful for us to know this about the other so she doesn’t look at me like I’m crazy when I comment that seeing her wash the dishes is sexy…and I can strive for a bit more patience and understanding when she is SUFFOCATINGME.
It occurred to me, after seeing this dynamic at work in my marriage, that it could certainly be at work in my relationships with my children. Am I speaking my children’s love language? In my head, all my cooking, cleaning, and providing for them on a daily basis should shout my love loud and clear – but does it? As it turns out, not really, because none of my 3 kids are ‘acts of service’ driven. Yes, I have taught them to appreciate all that other people do for them, but these things are not what speaks to the depths of their love souls.
My son’s love language is receiving gifts. He’s not materialistic and the gifts don’t have to be anything extravagant but the quickest way to his heart is a token that he can hold onto and keep close by. A note in his lunch box can fill his love tank for a week and a stuffed animal from a business trip becomes his most prized possession. I’m not a sentimental person in the slightest, so his hoarding tendencies and the value he places in things can really drive me crazy, but when I view it through the lens of his “love language”, I can understand the powerful connection he has to these gifts more clearly.
My middle daughter is a bit harder to categorize (in all things!), but I suspect that she leans heavily towards ‘quality time’ as her love language. As the true middle child, she is independent and enjoys time to herself. But, every once in a while, she will come to my wife or I and let us know that she needs some special attention. This is her way of telling us that she’s needing some of our undivided time to be reminded of how much we love her.
The love language of my little one is clear as day. That girl is all about touch, touch, and more touch. Hugs, kisses, cuddles, and tickles light up her life! At least once a day she asks to “cuddle up and read a book”. A bear hug solves even the worst of her temper tantrums and even at 4 years old, she’s on cloud nine when I climb into bed with her for a bit of a back rub as she drifts off to sleep, surrounded by love.
I’ve talked before about how much I enjoy my unique relationships with each of my children and this is just one of the many ways I can recognize and appreciate their differences. What about your kiddos? Are you speaking their love language?