by Sharmon Coleman, Proven Way Executive Director
Valentine’s Day. A day to celebrate love. Or argue. Uh huh. You read that right. Argue. Any gift giving occasion used to bring a day of strife to the Coleman’s matrimonial state because I loved receiving cards and small gifts and my husband didn’t see the point which meant that no cards or small gift were forthcoming. My feelings would be hurt and I would be left feeling unloved and my husband frustrated because he didn’t understand why I was upset. Anybody else out there have this same situation play out?
I am happy to say that this is no longer. Dale and I now have peace on all gift giving occasions because we learned the secret of love languages. We love each other very much, but we have different love languages so we were not communicating. And the bonus is that knowing about love languages has helped us in ALL relationships; work, children, church, friends, etc.
Gary Chapman, in his book The 5 Love Languages, identifies 5 “languages” that speak love:
- Receiving Gifts – Not materialism, it’s the thoughtfulness and effort behind the gift
- Words of Affirmation – Kind, encouraging words, written or verbal
- Quality Time – Full, undivided attention
- Acts of Service – Anything that eases the burden of responsibility, “let me help you”
- Physical Touch – Hugs, pats, not sexual
These are the five basic ways love is received. Everyone has 1 primary and 1 secondary. My love languages are words of affirmation and receiving gifts. My husband’s love languages are quality time and physical touch. While we loved each other very much, before we understood our love languages, we weren’t speaking the same language. Once we learned how the other receives love, we’ve been able to hit a bulls eye every time and conflict disappeared.
Why is it important to learn and apply love languages to those with whom we do life? Because over and over again, God commands us to live of love. Jesus boiled the two most important commandments down to loving God and loving people (Matthew 22:238-40). Now we have a “cheat” sheet for knowing how to give love in a way that’s received. Learning to speak these love languages helps us accomplish the Biblical directive to love.
How do you discover your own love language? Take the online quiz, or just think about which of these 5 expressions float your proverbial boat.
How do you discover another person’s love language? Pay attention to the way others express love to you. Generally, you give love the way you receive it. You can also experiment and see what makes others “light up”.
I encourage you, as a leader, a boss, an employee, a friend, a neighbor, a wife, and/or mother to take the time to become fluent in these five love languages. Loving well fulfills God’s command, brings unity, and helps bring His Kingdom to earth. Beloved, “Above all else, love one another deeply” (1 Peter 4:8).
Members, you can log in to our website, select “resources” from the drop down menu when you hover over the icon. Under the “Training and Resources” tab, you will find a section titled “Blog Resources” with a link to the handout “Understanding the Five Love Languages”.