How do you speak love? How does your fiancé? What about your mom? Your best friends? Have you ever had a time in your relationship where both of you felt like you were trying so hard to make one another happy, and it just didn't feel like it was working? I know I have.
There are actually five ways we humans experience and give love. Now, this is not my brilliant idea. It is a concept Gary Chapman explores in his book "The Five Love Languages". I read this book years ago when I was in high school, but I recently revisited it and it blew my mind all over again. I HIGHLY recommend it for anyone and everyone. I feel like everyone has already read this book, but I'm constantly coming in contact with people who haven't heard of it. Then I feel like a dweeb because I'm all "what's your love language?" and their all "this chick is crazy..."
Basically, he says the way we experience love can be categorized in these five ways:
1.) Words of Affirmation-Epressing your love with words. For example, your husband telling you how beautiful you look. Or your wife telling you how much she admires how hard you've been working lately.
2.) Physical Touch-Expressing love through physical contact. Now, most guys don't read any further because they immediately think this is them-but if physical touch is your true love language it extends far outside the bedroom. Things like sitting close together, holding hands, touching your hands/arms/legs when they talk are a better representation of someone whose primary love language is touch.
3.) Quality Time-Expressing love through time spent together that is focused completely on one another. Quality time is more about focusing your undivided attention on one another over coffee or in your living room. Watching TV together or sitting at a restaurant while you're both on your phones doesn't really qualify. It's about connecting one-on-one, face-to-face.
4.) Gifts-Expressing love by giving tangible, thoughtful gifts. Now, this isn't code for "materialism". Someone who enjoys receiving gifts is more touched by the thought behind the gift than how much it costs. It's about buying her one of her favorite flower and putting it on the dashboard of her car. Or buying his favorite beer and putting a little sticky note on it that says "Cheers!"
5.) Acts of Service-Expressing love by serving your loved one. Basically doing things for one another. Cooking him a delicious dinner or vacuuming the house for her.
While we all feel a degree of love through each of these, we each have one primary love language. It is the way we feel love the most. What's interesting is that we usually try to love others through our primary love language. My love language is physical touch and for those of you who know me, you know I'm a hugger. I will probably grab your hand in conversation if I get super excited.
Now, if two people have the same love language, this can work out wonderfully. However, I don't think I know anyone off the top of my head who has the same love language as their spouse. What this means is that two people can be working really hard to affirm one another, yet neither person is feeling any more loved in the relationship. How maddening, right?!
I remember dissecting my parents relationship based on these principles when I read this back in high school and it was so eye opening. They'd been having a few more "closed door" conversations at that time-if ya know what I'm sayin. (Probably because they had a hormonal teenage girl and four other kids!) Yet, I saw my mom actively complimenting my dad all the time. And I saw my dad helping clean the house and taking mom's car in for it's service. *Insert ah hah moment here* I realized my mom's love language is words of affirmation, and my dad's is acts of service. Here my mom was going on and on about how great my dad is, when what would've really impacted him is if she cooked a special dinner for him. And my dad was bending over backwards serving my mom, but she really just wanted to hear him tell her that she looked beautiful. They were each working so hard to be more intentional towards one another, but they were exerting those intentions in a way that wasn't as effective as it could've been.
Now, I've already mentioned that my love language is physical touch. Ok. Full disclosure. I am ashamed to say that I spent 5 years in a relationship with my husband thinking the whole time that his was acts of service. A few weeks ago, I had him take the quiz and I was COMPLETELY wrong. His love language is gifts!! I seriously had no idea. None. In fact, I thought it was a joke and that he'd Christmas-treed the quiz with random answers for a minute. I know. I fail as wife. But now it makes so much sense. I surprised him with a smart tv for his birthday back in September, and at least once a week he mentions how much he appreciates the tv. And for my man-of-few-words hubby, that's pretty significant.
So. Basically I'm telling you all to go take the quiz to find out which one you are, read the book and watch it help transform your relationships. It has certainly been groundbreaking for me!