by Meredith Berger
Valentine’s Day is nearly upon us, and most people I know have little prepared. Perhaps they’ve brainstormed, waivered on a few options, but just can’t seem to commit to a gift. It’s a lot of pressure to prove your love in one day, and after all, we should show our loved ones how much they mean to us every day of the year!
When discussing this amongst friends, we started analyzing how to best show our love and appreciation for those we care about, to both inspire gift ideas and best practices in general. Thus began our conversation on The 5 Love Languages.
Author and Pastor Gary Chapman coined the term in his eponymous book, which encompasses Words of Affirmation, Gifts, Acts of Service, Quality Time, and Physical Touch. You and your love ones can take the quiz here to see what you are (I’m Words of Affirmation!).
While all of these may appeal to us at different times, Chapman believes we have a primary language that speaks to us above the rest. This varies by individual, making it important for us to adjust how we give love, and not base it on how we prefer to receive it. “We speak and understand best our native language. We feel most comfortable speaking that language. The more we use a secondary language, the more comfortable we become conversing in it. If we speak only our primary language and encounter someone else who speaks only his or her primary language, which is different from ours, our communication will be limited” (Chapman).
This is the idea of miscommunicating due to not taking the time to understand people and ask what they want. Instead we guess or assume. This is applicable in all facets of life – romantic relationships, platonic friendships, child-parent relationships, work place colleagues, etc. I’m someone who thrives on affirmation, so I tend to affirm others when I’m demonstrating love or respect. This can fall on deaf ears, when speaking with individuals like my significant other who prefers Quality Time (like cooking dinner together) or a work colleague who prefers Acts of Service (like helping them finish a project). A compliment is always nice, but it doesn’t carry nearly as much weight with them. Have you noticed any similar situations in your life? Where the enthusiasm in response to your giving is less than you expected? Perhaps this is why.
So as you shop for that Valentine’s Day gift this week, keep in mind that your primary love language isn’t the universal language. This may help you select a more tailored and appreciated gift. On a greater scale, learning to be more open with the other love languages will help you relate, connect, and show appreciation to your counterparts in all aspects of your life, 365 days a year.
As Jesus speaks to us in John 13:34,
A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another:
just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.