It takes time to learn a new language. A long time in fact. In order to become fluent in French, for example, I’d still need to spend at least three months living in France, even after learning it for years in school.
And just as it takes time to learn a language that’s not your own, it takes time to learn how those around you best give and receive love.
The people in my family communicate love in very different ways. Different things make them feel special. Different things make them feel warm and fuzzy inside. And so I find that each new day is a new step in the journey of learning to love well.
For Zoë, nothing says ‘I love you’ more than sitting on the floor with her and doing imaginative play. Her main love language is most definitely quality time. I really struggle with imaginative play; but I try to do it each day for a little while so that little love tank is filled up.
Eden is the cuddliest little article. For her, nothing says ‘I love you’ more than a bedtime snuggle and me allowing her to twiddle my hair through her fingers. Her main love language is indisputably touch. Sometimes it feels a bit claustrophobic, but because it makes her feel comforted and secure, I let her do it.
We joke that bill is the shallowest family member – his love languages are touch and gifts, in equal measure. If you want to reach Bill’s heart, buy him a ‘Jammy Joey’ (or a new guitar 😀) from the shop and give him plenty of hugs. For a long time I couldn’t understand why my compliments didn’t mean that much. He enjoyed them, but they didn’t mean the world. I was just speaking the wrong language! I’m still working on speaking his.
Nothing says ‘I love you’ more to me than when someone takes the time to listen to me, or to offer heartfelt words of encouragement. I’m words and time. Because Bill doesn’t need a lot of words of affirmation, he is still learning to speak aloud the positive things he is thinking!
You know where I’m going with this, right?Most of you will already have heard of Gary Chapman’s classic, ‘The five love languages.’ He talks about five main ways of expressing and receiving love: Words of Affirmation, Acts of Service, Receiving Gifts, Quality Time, and Physical Touch.
To know what your main language is, ask yourself, ‘How do I express love most naturally?’
💜 Do you love doing something for someone?
❤️ Are you quick to verbally encourage someone?
💛 Are you willing to spend a lot of time and attention on other people?
💙 Do you love giving personal and thoughtful gifts to others?
🤎 Do you naturally reach out to hug someone?
In the reverse, what do you ask for from others most often? A back rub? A weekend away? The grass cut?
Knowing how you and your other family members give and receive love is the first step to closer relationships.
Imagine if a husband knew that doing the dishes was much less important to his wife than buying her flowers once in a while?
Or what about the wife who showers her husband with compliments when all he needs is loving touch?
Or parents who continually buy their child gifts, when playing a game with them would speak greater volumes.
See how miscommunication can so easily happen? Don’t assume what you find meaningful others will too. Even sincere efforts to love can easily get ‘lost in translation.’
Why not take a moment today to ask the people in your life what makes them light up inside? You could begin (or continue) learning how to speak love, their way. Because when love lights someone up, everyone around feels the beauty of the glow.
What language do you speak when it comes to love? And how have you been learning to love others better?