When we first started dating, Vince shared with me a book he’d read that has become one of his favorites. It’s called “The Five Love Languages” by Dr. Gary Chapman. Have you read it, by chance? I think it’s a really good book and I wanted to share some thoughts about it.
The premise of the book is that we all respond to love in different ways. Dr. Chapman, a marriage counselor for over 30 years, identified five ways we all express and receive love. In short, they are: Words of Affirmation, Quality Time, Receiving Gifts, Acts of Service and Physical Touch.
They’re pretty self-explanatory, but what was telling to me is that people identify with the way they, personally, respond to one of these languages and, therefore, that’s the way they express their love to others.
So, for example, say your significant other’s love language is Receiving Gifts. He feels loved when you pick up a container of his favorite ice cream – so he figures that you will respond the same way when he sends you a bouquet of flowers while he’s out of town on business. It’s not that you don’t appreciate the flowers. But, say your love language is Quality Time. His being out of town for business may be unavoidable, but then when he returns home, he heads off to watch the ball game with his buddies. You really want to sit on the couch together and talk. Your Love Language of Quality Time is not being met, even though he thinks you should realize he loves you and, after all, he sent you those flowers…and do you realize they cost him 75 bucks??!
What if your love language is Words of Affirmation and his love language is Acts of Service? You tell him all the time that you love him. You go on and on about how much you appreciate his mowing the lawn or fixing the leaky faucet. He, on the other hand hardly ever says, “I love you.” He figures you should know that because he does mow the damn lawn and fix the friggin’ leaky faucet. Isn’t that love??
Well, yeah. It is. But you need to hear that he loves you. And he doesn’t necessarily need you to tell him that you love him – eventually he’s gonna start rolling his eyes. But it’d be nice if you sewed a button back on his dress shirt once in a while.
See? No wonder we screw up our love lives a lot.
The key is to figure out which Love Language your significant other responds most to – and then do that thing. Do it a lot. And, no, I’m not going to describe what you need to do if his Love Language is Physical Touch. I think you can figure it out. But, um, it can also mean he appreciates it when you reach for his hand or touch his arm when you’re out at a party to show him – and others – that you are with him…and that you love him.
Now, of course, there is the distinct possibility that you’re like me – and your Love Language is ALL FIVE Love Languages. Sheesh. Your significant other has his work cut out for him! Just ask Vince.
The poor guy cooks my breakfast for me every morning (even though he’d probably rather be sleeping), buys my favorite lemon cookies at the grocery store (even though he’s not crazy about lemon cookies), sits on the couch watching Desperate Housewives on TV with me (when he’d probably much rather be watching CNN), hugs me all the time (okay, he likes hugging me!) and tells me he loves me (got nothin’ – he really does love me…).
Yes, I do realize what a good guy I have and, no, you cannot have him!
Apparently Dr. Gary Chapman never met a Jane, huh? Nah, that’s not true. Actually, we all respond to all five Love Languages in some way or another. But there is usually a dominant one. They even have a test at the end of the book that allows you to figure out which one you respond to most.
Again, all five came up equally for me.
No, I kid. I’m just tryin’ to make sure I get all the love I can!
But, seriously, what I’ve learned from reading this book is that you cannot take love for granted. Like, I tell Vince a lot how much I appreciate his cooking breakfast for me. But, since Words of Affirmation is one of his predominant Love Languages, I need to remember that it’s important to continue telling him – that I can’t just assume he “knows.” It’s nice to hear, you know?
People tell us that we’re still in the “honeymoon phase” and that we’ll soon stop all this lovey-dovey nonsense. And, to those people, I make rude sounds with my mouth. No, really. I do! Vince and I have talked about how important it is not to take each other for granted. We know how easy that is to do. But we know we need to continue to tell each other how we feel and that we care about one another.
So…anyone out there been married for a long time? You rollin’ your eyes yet?!
Okay, so there may be days when you’re rushed and you really don’t feel like hugging your mate to satisfy his Physical Touch Love Language because, after all, the laundry needs to be done and there’s dinner to get on the table and you still need to put the damn groceries away before his friggin’ ice cream melts and…oops! Forgive me. I went off track there!
But we can take lessons from those people we know who have been married for decades. Like my parents, for example. Next month they’re going to celebrate their 58th year of wedded bliss. And, okay, so they snip at each other once in a while. Or mom snips and dad pretends he doesn’t hear her. Maybe some of that is inevitable. But they still hold hands when they go for a walk. And they still kiss each other each morning and each evening. And they do many little things for each other throughout the day to show their love for one another.
So I think we’ll take our lessons from them. Of course, for us to make it to 58 years of wedded bliss, Vince and I will have to live to be 108. Yikes. I think we’ll just take it one day at a time. Meanwhile, I just need to say to Vince publicly: “Thanks for breakfast this morning, honey. You take really good care of me. And I love you!”