Communication in any relationship is crucial. Whether it is your relationship with your husband, wife, kids, co-workers, friends, parents, or anyone else you interact with, good communication is vital for a healthy relationship. My best friend and mentor, Claude Hamilton, recommended I read the book The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman, to help with my communication in my relationships. At first I was hesitant to pick up the book because it was purple with a big heart on the front. But I am so glad I listened to the advice of Claude and read it despite what it looked like. The information I learned from this book is invaluable, as it made me aware that I needed to speak to people not only with my words, but also through their love languages.
One of the biggest things I learned from this book is that, despite the love language of the individual, you have to keep their love tank full. The easiest way to keep their love tank full is to speak their love language to them. It is easy to love someone in your own love language, because you are comfortable with that. Sometimes it is a little uncomfortable to love people in their love language because it is foreign to you. But speaking your love language to someone who does not share that love language with you is like speaking German to someone who only speaks Chinese.
There are five love languages, each unique but of equal importance. They are;
- Words of Affirmation
- Quality Time
- Receiving Gifts
- Acts of Service
- Physical Touch
Words of Affirmation includes verbal compliments and words of appreciation. When speaking this language, straightforward statements such as “you look beautiful in that dress” or “thank you for taking out the garbage yesterday, I really appreciated that” are best. The person on the receiving end of these statements will have their love tank filled, knowing exactly what you think and appreciate about them. One of my love languages is words of affirmation, so all Raylene has to do to make me feel loved is tell me I look good in my new shirt, or tell me I did an excellent job in a meeting.
Quality Time is not just spending time with someone. You can spend time with someone at a movie theatre and not talk to them for 2 hours. Quality time with someone is giving them your undivided attention, talking or doing an activity that you enjoy. This lets the other person know that they are a priority to you and that you care about them. This is a powerful communicator of love. Raylene is quality time, and I had to learn that if I came home to a house with dirty dishes on the counter, she would rather me sit and talk to her for 20 minutes and ignore the dishes than do the dishes and ignore her. The dishes could wait, she wanted me to invest in time with her, invest in our relationship, and her love tank grew fuller as we sat and talked.
Receiving Gifts can be a love language that is hard to speak because it is the only one that costs money. However, some people may view this money as an expense or an investment. Those who look at love languages as a way to express their interest and love for another person will see the money spent on gifts as an investment. A gift is something the recipient can hold in their hand and look at and know the giver was thinking about them. Raylene’s second love language is receiving gifts. When we learned about the love languages and we realized this was one of hers I was worried because of the money it could cost me. But I realized that the gifts do not have to be diamond earrings and Rolex watches. They can be little things that cost only a few dollars, in fact sometimes these are the gifts she likes the most because they are thoughtful and personal.
Acts of Service means doing things like cooking, cleaning, setting the table, filling the car with gas, vacuuming, and taking out the garbage. Little things that require thought, planning and time. If these things are done with the right attitude, a positive one, they are expressions of love. My second love language is acts of service. I know Raylene loves me, and is trying to show me she loves me when she takes my clothes to the dry cleaners, cooks a meal for me, or does the dishes. When she does these things for me, it tells me that she is thinking about me and wanting to serve me in some way.
Physical Touch is a powerful vehicle for communicating love to someone, especially in a marital relationship. Hugging, holding hands and kissing are all actions that communicate you love someone. These actions are vital in relationships where one partner’s primary love language is physical touch. In non-marital relationships you can love those whose primary love language is physical touch by high-fives, pats on the back for a job well done or touching someone’s arm when you talk to them. These simple actions can communicate love in an appropriate and professional manner.
When you are interested in building relationships or becoming closer with people you already have a relationship with, learning and speaking their love languages is key. Speaking someone’s love language will solidify the relationship, where not speaking it could kill the relationship. It is important to choose to love people in the way they respond to love most. When Raylene and I read this book and discovered what our love languages are we were encouraged to show love the more love was shown to us. The more she loved me, the more I wanted to show her love as well. As our love tanks were filled, the more we wanted to fill each others. The opposite is true also, the more empty our love tanks were, the less we wanted to show love to one another. In those situations it was so important for one of us to chose to break the cycle and show love regardless of how we felt.
Have fun learning your love languages and the languages or others, and thinking of ways to show those around you that you love and care about them!