Gifts of Love
I am the kind of person who can be given a beautiful present and well-chosen card but be secretly disappointed if it lacks gushing prose. I thrive on words of affirmation. Because I need it myself I am generous with my praise of others. Friends say I am a great encourager!
Such is my delight in loving words, my husband can thrill me by whispering sweet nothings in my ear. I’m easily pleased! No grandiose gestures required. I’m talking about Love Languages and we all speak different dialects when it comes to amour.
You might be familiar with the top selling book The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman, an experienced marriage counsellor. It is important to discover your own and your partner’s primary Love Language. No point speaking Italian, if he’s speaking French! Most of us are multi-lingual in matters of the heart and can speak and understand a little of all five languages but we have our preferred native tongue.
What’s yours? Is it Words of Affirmation; Quality Time; Receiving Gifts; Acts of Service or Physical Touch?
Words of Affirmation show appreciation through compliments such as ‘You look fabulous in that colour!’ ‘That meal was delicious!’ and ‘ I love listening to you play the piano.’ The word ‘encourage’ means to ‘inspire courage’. Encourage your partner in their big goals and dreams and in their small daily challenges and stresses.
Love is kind. Speak with respect and consideration even when expressing frustration. Be aware of your tone of voice. Words of Affirmation won’t come naturally if you’ve been used to being critical and stingy with praise. Practise this new skill.
Have You Got The Time?
Quality Time means giving undivided attention: taking a walk together, enjoying romantic dinners, sharing leisure activities or working together on a project. All that some wives (and kids) ever want is time and it is the one thing they are denied by the work-obsessed husband too busy with ‘more important’ tasks. Quality time supports Quality Conversation where you share your thoughts, feelings and desires in an atmosphere of safety and trust.
Most mums remember the day their excited toddler presented them with a wilting flower picked from the neighbour’s garden or a prized shell found on the beach! Gifts are visual symbols of love. Gifts don’t have to be expensive or extravagant. If Receiving Gifts is your partner’s primary love language, make a list of all the gifts that have ever delighted him or her. Don’t wait for a special occasion. Randomly spring surprise gifts out of the blue! And keep in mind, that the ultimate intangible gift is the gift of you; being there when your partner needs you.
Serving With Your Heart
A doormat is an inanimate object you can wipe your feet on, step on and kick around. Acts of Service are not meant to turn you into a doormat. Doing mundane chores should not be coerced or performed out of obligation, which leads to fear, guilt and resentment. Such humble acts ideally flow from heartfelt love.
When you willingly help each other around the house you are operating as a team and demonstrating practical care. When serving is mutual, it shows a mature, equal relationship, not a dominant-submissive one.
Physical touch can make or break a relationship. It can communicate hate or love. Touch receptors are located throughout the body but touching certain spots will bring pleasure while others will be uncomfortable or irritating. Ask your partner what kinds of touch they like and don’t like. It might be a back rub or squeeze on the shoulder, a strong or tender hug or kiss behind the ear. If you discover that this is your partner’s primary love language, pour it on in new ways and new places! Kiss in the car, hold hands in public, rub her leg under the table!
Love Is A Choice
Dr Chapman writes, “Something in our nature cries out to be loved by another. Isolation is devastating to the human psyche. At the heart of mankind’s existence is the desire to be intimate and to be loved by another.
“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.”
Marriage is designed to meet the craving for lasting intimacy and real love. When satisfied, it frees us to realise our full potential. A husband and wife who are in love with each other are happier, healthier, wiser and more productive than ever. When you give the gifts of love you give treasures that money can't buy!
This article was published in December 2007 in XL Extra! an international magazine for entrepreneurs and business people.
For more information, read The Five Love Languages, How To Express Heartfelt Commitment to Your Mate by Gary Chapman