I read a lot because it seems to counter-balance some of the mundane conversations that exist in my 5-10 networking events each week. One such literary encounter (I won’t lie, this was on CD), was The Five Love Languages. I’d heard about this book for years, but thanks to a 6 hour car ride with a married friend who’d just finished it, I thought I’d ‘read’ it for myself.
To do a terrible rendition of Cliffs Notes (or SparkNotes.com for those of you who remember using that online ‘resource’ for many an English class in high school), The Five Love Languages breaks down human interaction and how one communicates love into five categories: Non-sexual physical touch, words of affirmation, giving of gifts, acts of service, and quality time. These can be related to any type of relationship (familial, romantic, friend, or otherwise) and we are each capable of giving and receiving them all, but everyone gives and receives some more naturally than others. What’s interesting is that we subconsciously characterize how someone feels about us based on how they ‘speak’ to us in these ways. If their actions match with our preferences, it satisfies us, and if they don’t, it can become a more challenging relationship.
Here’s an example stolen from my married friend:
She’s loves to shower her husband with acts of service. She’ll clean the house, do the laundry, take the dog for a walk, and make dinner before he gets home because she innately shows her love in this manner. He, on the other hand, will text her sweet messages all day, leave a note on her pillow, or send a card in the mail. Both offering loving gestures, but neither packed the punch the giver planned to express.
After reading the book, they started to work on showing their ‘love language’ to one another how they best receive it. He began to make the bed or cook dinner and she began to write notes on the mirror or send thoughtful texts throughout the day. Both began to see the power of stretching out of their own natural inclinations and into each other’s preferences.
Being happily unmarried myself, I still found this material eye-opening. It helps me to relate to my friends, my clients, my family…whomever is able to show their care enough for me to understand their language and share it in return. Rather simple and can have quite an impact.
Try it. Really.
If you’re in a relationship, does your significant other always want to cuddle and hold your hand? Initiate that.
Does your sister always ask to spend time with you? Do it.
Does your dad oftentimes surprise you with small mementos? Give him a gift out-of-the-blue.
It’s called growing people. I best understand love by knowing you’re reading this blog, so keep doing it and I will feel fulfilled 😉