It’s Valentine’s Day and everyone (well, most everyone) is celebrating love. For those of us with spouses, significant others or children, learning how to love the “right” way can be hard. Racer and I love very differently. We “speak” and “hear” love in very different ways. The idea of Love Languages by Gary Chapman helped me understand how to better love the people in my family – and how to better articulate how I need to be loved.
So, to better understand me, I took a Love Language test. You can go HERE to take a Love Language assessment. You answer some questions about what you prefer – A or B. Then at the end the test taker receives their scores in each of the five areas: Words of Affirmation, Quality Time, Receiving Gifts, Acts of Service and Physical Touch. The area with the highest score (or two) is the love “language” you hear best. Knowing the “language” of your spouse and children can help you better speak love in a way it will be heard.
Take me for example. I’m not a gift receiver. I often think that going out and buying a gift for someone is just an easy way out – buying their love. Not that I don’t appreciate people thinking of me, but most of the time, the gifts are off the mark and not something that is “me.” At Christmas time, our family makes a “wish list” so that people can know what to get that would be appreciated and useful. For me, it’s mostly useful stuff. I appreciate that someone gives me something off my list, but I get disappointed if it’s not what I specified (for example they got me pink and I specifically said green). I know it sounds awful. I really am appreciative and I know they didn’t have to get me anything. I know. But at the same time I think “What would’ve been so hard about getting a green one?”
Part of that is that I can be hard to please – I’m working on that. Part of it is also that I don’t speak “gifts.” Not my Love Language. I’d much rather have you give me 10 hours of free babysitting so I can grocery shop without kids. I’d much rather have you come and scrub all my windows for me. I’d rather be given a foot massage. I’d rather have you take the time to go out and pick up the think that I want instead of me doing it. I’d know I was important if you took time to come and have a cup of coffee and a conversation with me. I’d rather have you DO something than buy something. Can you guess what my Love Language is? Acts of Service comes first and Quality Time comes second. To me, gifts often feel like I’m being bought off. And I try to show my family how much I love them by making sure they have healthy, good food to eat, clean clothes to wear, a relatively picked up house, etc. I love by serving.
Racer, on the other hand, speaks and hears love exactly the opposite of me. He is a gifter. Today is an example of that. I got flowers and a card. I’m giving a yummy meal and dessert – all from scratch. Having an opposite as my spouse is difficult at times. It’s hard to understand how to speak a language that I don’t hear. Imagine if your loved one only spoke Korean and you only spoke Finnish! Frustration would ensue. I have to be intentional about speaking my love for Racer in a way that he will actually hear it. He doesn’t see my cooking, laundry and cleaning as love – only as duty. What he hears as love is snuggling on the couch, holding hands in public, surprise gifts and thoughtful gifts on holidays.
I had my 3 oldest kids take the Love Language Assessment too. Speaking love to teens and children is hard, but knowing how they hear love has made it easier. Blue sees my service as duty and prefers Quality Time (difficult in a big family). Professor hears what I speak and also enjoys Words of Affirmation (he’s good at speaking that one too). Girlie was a little young to accurately gauge, but it looks like she’ll appreciate Acts of Service and Words of Affirmation. Knowing this about my children only helps me to be a better parent with them – encouraging and loving in the right way and correcting in a way that doesn’t cut deep.
So on this Valentine’s Day, instead of showing love in typical ways, I challenge you to show love in ways that your Valentine will “hear.” See if you can figure out his/her Love Language and then speak it!