“The 5 Languages of Love”
Have you ever wondered about people and what makes them have relationships that last long into their lives? I have from time to time.
We are starting a new series on relationships. I thought it advantageous to do so after our last 10 weeks, learning about relationships from our experts. Well, these next 5 weeks we will have a different look at relationships.
The book by Gary Chapman. “The 5 Love Languages, the Secret that makes love last” will be our next adventure. Although the book was written for married couples, it has words of wisdom that can be applied to all kinds of relationships: spouses, children, friends, co-workers
As we travel through the 5 Love Languages, you will be able to see how questions can be related to other relationships, like friends and family members.
Questions such as:
How does your spouse respond when you try to show affection?
On a scale of 0–10, how full is your love tank?
Can you pinpoint a time in your marriage when “reality” set in? How did this affect your relationship, for better or worse?
What would you most like to hear your spouse or significant other say to you?
People speak different love languages. Just like there are different languages in different countries & even in different parts of a country, there are languages we each have that resonate with our different personalities.
If we wish to have good communication with the important people in our lives, it would be prudent to learn the language of those with whom we wish to communicate.
Your emotional love language and the language of your spouse may be as different as Chinese from English. And if you are not aware of the specific language, you may have some issues…for example….
Do you remember the story that Steve Covey shared in “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People”? A man came up to him after a lecture concerned about his marriage.
“I’m really worried.” He said. “My wife and I just don’t have the same feelings for each other we used to have. I guess I just don’t love her anymore and she doesn’t love me. What can I do?”
“The feeling just isn’t there anymore?” Steven asked.
“That’s right, and we have three children we’re really concerned about. What do you suggest?”
“I told you, the feeling just isn’t there anymore.”
“You don‘t understand. The feeling of love just isn’t there.”
“Then love her. If the feeling of love just isn’t there, that’s a good reason to love her.”
“But, then how do you love when you don’t love?”
“My friend, love is a verb. Love, – the feeling- is the fruit of love, the verb. So, love her. Serve her. Sacrifice. Listen to her. Empathize. Appreciate. Affirm her.”
Steven was telling this man to find the language his wife heard. And then to ‘speak’ that language.
The word ‘love’ is a most confusing word. We use it in a thousand ways. We say, “I love whoppie pies,” and in the next breath, “I love my mother, my house, my car.” We speak of loving activities: swimming, kayaking. We love food, animals: Zoe, ….We love nature: trees, the ocean, flowers, and weather. We love all kinds of people: mother, father, kids, wives, husbands, friends. We even fall in love with love.
We also use the word love to explain behavior. “I did it because I love her. That explanation is given for all kinds of actions. A politician is involved in an adulterous relationship, and he calls it love. The priest, on the other hand, calls it sin.
The wife of an alcoholic picks up the pieces after her husband’s latest episode. She calls it love, but the psychologist calls it codependency.
The parent indulges all the child’s wishes, calling it love. The family therapist would call it irresponsible parenting. What is loving behavior? As we’ll see, it depends on the person.
Both secular and religious thinkers agree that love plays a central role in life.
Psychologists have concluded that the need to feel loved is a primary human emotional need.
Child psychologists affirm that every child has certain basic emotional needs that must be met if she is to be emotionally stable. Among those emotional needs, none is more basic than the need for love and affection, the need to sense that he or she belongs and is wanted. With an adequate supply of affection, the child will likely develop into a responsible adult. Without that love, he or she will be emotionally and socially challenged.
Chapman states, “That need follows us into adulthood. The “in-love” experience temporarily meets that need, but it is inevitably a quick fix and, has a limited and predictable life span. After we come down from the high of the “in-love” obsession, the emotional need for love resurfaces because it is fundamental to our nature. It is at the center of our emotional desires. We needed love before we “fell in love,” and we will need it as long as we live.”
Unfortunately, the eternality of the “in-love” experience is fiction, not fact. The late psychologist Dr. Dorothy Tennov conducted long-range studies on the in-love phenomenon. After studying scores of couples, she concluded that the average life span of a romantic obsession is two years.
In fact, true love cannot begin until the “in-love” experience has run its course.
Our most basic emotional need is not to fall in love but to be genuinely loved by another, to know a love that grows out of reason and choice, not instinct. I need to be loved by someone who chooses to love me, who sees in me something worth loving. That kind of love requires effort and discipline.
How do we meet each other’s deep, emotional need to feel loved?
Chapman says “Men and women have an “emotional love tank” that makes us feel content, secure, and loved when it’s full. When it’s empty, when we feel totally unloved, it makes us feel threatened, angry, frustrated, and alone. The key question all of us face is: What makes us feel loved?”
With the 5 Love Languages, we will help you identify your love language and show you just how important your love language is to how you feel within each of your relationships.
And the truly life-changing moment comes when we understand someone else’s love language. You’ll begin seeing your relationship—even past relationships or those of the people you know—with a whole new perspective. Speaking the right love language can make all the difference!
There are five emotional love languages—five ways that people speak and understand emotional love. They are: Words of Affirmation, Quality Time, Receiving Gifts, Acts of Service and Physical Touch.
I must warn you: Understanding the five love languages and learning to speak the primary love language of your significant others may radically affect their behavior. People behave differently when their emotional love tanks are full.
Words of Affirmation
Mark Twain once said, “I can live for two months on a good compliment.”
Obviously, words of affirmation were his Love Language.
One way to express love emotionally is to use words that build up. Solomon, author of the ancient Hebrew Wisdom Literature, wrote, “The tongue has the power of life and death.”
Here’s an example from Dr. Chapman’s practice:
A lady walking down the hall asks, “Have you got a minute?”
“Sure, come in.”
She sat down and said, “Dr. Chapman, I’ve got a problem. I can’t get my husband to paint our bedroom. I have been after him for nine months. I have tried everything I know, and I can’t get him to paint it.”
He asks her to continue…
She said, “Well, last Saturday was a good example. You remember how pretty it was? Do you know what my husband did all day long? He was cleaning out his computer files.”
“So, what did you do?”
“I went in there and said, ‘Dan, I don’t understand you. Today would have been a perfect day to paint the bedroom, and here you are working on your computer.’”
“So, did he paint the bedroom?”
“No. It’s still not painted. I don’t know what to do.”
“Let me ask you a question,” I said. “Are you opposed to computers?”
“No, but I want the bedroom painted.”
“Are you certain that your husband knows that you want the bedroom painted?”
“I know he does,” she said. “I have been after him for nine months.”
“Let me ask you one more question. Does your husband ever do anything good?”
“Oh, like taking the garbage out, or putting gas in the car, or paying the electric bill, or running to the store to get milk and toilet paper?”
“Yes,” she said, “he does some of those things.”
“Then I have two suggestions. One, don’t ever mention painting the bedroom again.” “Never mention it again.”
“I don’t see how that’s going to help,” she said.
“Look, you just told me that he knows that you want the bedroom painted. You don’t have to tell him anymore. He already knows. The second suggestion I have is that the next time your husband does anything good, give him a verbal compliment. If he takes the garbage out, say, ‘Dan, I want you to know that I really appreciate your taking the garbage out.’ Don’t say, ‘About time you took the garbage out. The flies were going to carry it out for you.’ If you see him paying the electric bill, put your hand on his shoulder and say, ‘Dan, I really appreciate your paying the electric bill. I hear there are husbands who don’t do that, and I want you to know how much I appreciate it.’ Or, ‘I really appreciated you running out to the store when I had to finish that project.’ Every time he does anything good, give him a verbal compliment.”
“I don’t see how that’s going to get the bedroom painted.”
I said, “You asked for my advice. You have it. It’s free.”
She wasn’t very happy with me when she left. Three weeks later, however, she came back to my office and said, “It worked!” She had learned that verbal compliments are far greater motivators than nagging words.
The object of love is not getting something you want but doing something for the well-being of the one you love. It is a fact, however, that when we receive affirming words we are far more likely to be motivated to reciprocate and do something our spouse desires.
The word encourage means “to inspire courage.”
All of us have areas in which we feel insecure. We lack courage, and that lack of courage often hinders us from accomplishing the positive things that we would like to do.
Encouragement requires empathy and seeing the world from the others perspective. We must first learn what is important to them. Only then can we give encouragement. With verbal encouragement, we are trying to communicate, “I know. I care. I am with you. How can I help?” We are trying to show that we believe in them and in their abilities. We are giving credit and praise.
Most of us have more potential than we will ever develop. What holds us back is often courage.
This is one of the reason we support our volunteers and thank them as much as possible.
This is why we are so grateful for our musicians and encourage those who are stepping up into new shoes, so to speak, singing in the choir and doing solos.
This is why we encourage all of you to share your gifts and talents, not only to benefit Unity but so you each get the benefit of encouragement, of stepping into something new, something you may have wanted to do for a long time but just needed a little boost.
And remember, Love is kind. If then we are to communicate love verbally, we must use kind words. The same sentence can have two different meanings, depending on how you say it.
An ancient sage once said, “A soft answer turns away anger.”
Seek understanding and reconciliation, and not to prove your own perception as the only logical way to interpret what has happened. DO this because that is mature love—love to which we aspire if we seek a growing relationship. Love doesn’t keep a score of wrongs. Love doesn’t bring up past failures.
We often have the option of justice or forgiveness. If we choose justice and seek to pay the person back or make them pay for their wrongdoing, we are making ourselves the judge and them the felon.
Don’t mess up your new day by bringing into it the failures of yesterday, polluting a potentially wonderful present.
The best thing we can do with the failures of the past is to let them be history. Yes, it happened. Certainly, it hurt. And it may still hurt, but he or she has acknowledged their failure and asked your forgiveness. We cannot erase the past, but we can accept it as history. We can choose to live today free from the failures of yesterday. Forgiveness is not a feeling; it is a commitment.
Love makes requests, not demands.
The way we express our desires is important.
When you make a request of your spouse, you are affirming his or her worth and abilities.
A request introduces the element of choice. Your mate may choose to respond to your request or to deny it, because love is always a choice. That’s what makes it meaningful.
And here’s a double gift! Giving indirect words of affirmation—that is, saying positive things about your friend or spouse when he or she is not present. Eventually, someone will tell them, and you will get full credit for the love.
So, are words of affirmation your love language? Or the language of someone dear to you? Now you know how to make their day special, or to let them know how to show you love.
And if word of affirmation are not your love language, maybe next week’s topic, Quality Time is.