Ever wonder why your spouse or child doesn’t appreciate it when you go out of your way to show your love to them?
I just finished reading a terrific book that should be required reading for every married couple and parent of teenagers. It’s called The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman. The book explains that we all have a dominant way of receiving love. According to the book, there are five ways we receive love:
- Words of Affirmation
- Quality Time
- Receiving Gifts
- Acts of Service
- Physical Touch
Out of the five, we may like them all, but there is usually a dominant way we receive love. For example, when a woman feels especially loved when their husband brings her flowers (Receiving gifts). Sure it’s stereotypical to bring her flowers and make her day, but it means a lot more to some women than it does others. Guys might be trying hard to show their love and affection with flowers or maybe by telling their wife how much they love them, but it might not be very effective. This is the case if her dominant way of receiving love is something other than Receiving Gifts or Words of Affirmation.
This can be VERY frustrating for a man or woman that is really trying to show their love, but not making any headway.
What’s the problem?
The problem is that we tend to show our love the same way we like to receive it and that may not be the way our spouse likes to receive love. Are you offering steak to a spouse that much prefers chicken?
After reading this book, I understand my own marriage much better. According to the results of the simple test in the book, my dominant way of receiving love is “Words of Affirmation”. So if my wife wanted to really show her love to me and make my day, she would simply have to shower me with kind words and “I Love You’s”. Unfortunately, my wife’s dominant way of receiving and showing love is with “Acts of Service”. I say “unfortunately, because it took us nineteen years to figure these things out.
She and I don’t value the same way of showing/receiving love. She shows her love everyday by cooking great meals, cleaning house, doing laundry, etc. That’s a ton of work, but I don’t appreciate that as a show of love as much as I would some kind words (this may seem crazy, but uttering a few words is ten times easier than all the work she does around the house). At the same time, when I want to show her my love, I tell her and use “Words of Affirmation”, which unfortunately doesn’t do much for her! She would much rather I show my love by getting off the couch and do jobs around the house (Act of Service).
As you could imagine, the differences in how couples show and receive love could actually be sending the wrong message to the spouse and lead to frustrating marriages.
The good news is that now we are aware and Soni, (my wife) started making me a monthly list of Acts of Service that will make her day, while she has started going out of her way to verbally tell me how she feels. It works!!
As you could imagine, the same goes with your relationship with your kids. They may not appreciate all that you do for them (Acts of Service) and may need more Quality Time, Words of Affirmation, or one of the other ways to show love. We just had our three teenagers take the test in the teenagers version of the book and found it to be very insightful as well.
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