In order for your “I love you” to be fully accepted and valued, give it in a way that’s natural for your mate to receive. The key is connection. Borrowing from Gary Chapman’s The Five Love Languages (available at LifeWay Christian Stores), there are “languages” by which people receive love from another. Let’s explore these to see how you can fine-tune your “I love you” for your mate.
Words of Affirmation
Some people gain incredible encouragement and genuinely feel loved when they are complimented or affirmed. This is my husband Rodney’s love language. During different seasons of our lives, most of the time it will be easy to find something your mate has done right. The challenge will be — in the midst of your own hustle and bustle — to share your finding with him or her. And remember: A specific affirmation goes a lot further than a general one. When I tell Rodney, “You’re a good husband,” he is grateful. But when I say, “Honey, you worked all day on the lawn. Thank you for the work you did for our family,” that connects! It’s the difference between black-and-white and color!
This is the subtle love language. You can easily overlook quality time because it doesn’t call attention to itself. It’s spoken when two people spend designated time with each other: going for a walk, sharing coffee, or simply talking each night after the kids go to bed. If your mate’s love language is quality time, look for ways to carve out time each day. That can be challenging in our daily rush, but the payoff is knowing that your mate knows — in the busyness of life — that you love him or her. That’s priceless!
This language is spoken in simple moments of touch (we’re not talking about sex here). Holding hands, an arm around the shoulders, a hand on the back — all of these communicate “I love you” to a physical-touch person. This is my language. I used to drive Rodney crazy in church. We’d be listening to a sermon and I would be leaning on Rodney or have my hand on his arm. It was distracting! However, when we learned about love languages, it made sense. Now, Rodney will initiate touch with me, even in church. He can actually worship God while telling me, I love her! Make touching a part of your routine. So you’re not a “touchy” person? Great! What an excellent opportunity to more clearly convey your love. There will be no doubt when you take your mate’s hand at the mall or give him a shoulder massage after a long day at work that you’re speaking the right language.
Receiving of Gifts
Don’t be confused; this language is not based on selfishness. It’s the receiving of something tangible but not necessarily expensive. It’s when a husband comes home and says, “Honey, I picked this flower just for you.” Or, “This card reminded me so much of you that I bought it.”
For the person who speaks the gifts language, it truly is the thought that counts. The translation? “You thought enough about me to give this to me? I was on your mind?” A note written on plain paper or a $1 souvenir that reflects an inside joke speaks love if your mate uses this language.
Acts of Service
This language says, “Show me you love me.” Doing a specific task for another gets at the heart of this language. If your mate speaks this language, during different seasons gives you multiple opportunities to be a real hero. There are a thousand errands to run, both planned and last minute. When the cumulative effect of all those tasks descends on your mate’s shoulders, what an opportunity for you to help! Going back to the store for those forgotten chocolate chips can effectively express your love. A surprise check mark on your mate’s to-do list can remind him or her of your love, no matter the season.
Want to take your marriage to the next level? Learn your mate’s love language. Then speak that language in a way he or she will understand. Watch the security in your relationship grow!
And don’t forget: the love languages pertain to all relationships including children, neighbors, and co-workers.
What ways have you experienced love from your spouse? What is the ideal way for you to receive love from your mate?