Give a gift that keeps on giving…

Today’s Valentine’s Day… a day in which we demonstrate in ways big and small just how much we love our significant other. But why save this gift for one day a year when it can be shared every day of the year?

Since we met over 2 years ago, Justin has never ceased to amaze me. He seems to know innately what I think and feel, often before I can articulate what it is I am thinking and feeling. What’s more, he expresses his love for me in so many beautiful ways every day of the year. So much so that I feel as though Valentine’s Day is every day. He expresses his love for me in ways I understand and appreciate… it’s as though he “speaks” my language of love.

So what exactly is my language of love? Or his for that matter? Shortly after we met, he told me about a book called “The Five Love Languages” by Dr. Gary Chapman. With over 30 years of marriage counseling experience, Dr. Chapman has probably seen and heard it all. Working with couples young and old and at every stage of a relationship , he discovered many call it quits with poor communications being the root cause. Oddly enough many felt they were openly sharing their feelings with their partner. The reality? There was a lot of sharing going on, but not a lot of comprehending because they were not “speaking” the same language…

How can that be you ask? Over the years, Dr. Chapman noticed a pattern in all the individuals he had ever counseled. Each had a “love language” — a primary way of expressing and interpreting love. Further, for whatever reason, he discovered that people were often drawn to those who “spoke” a different love language than their own.

Of the countless ways we can show our love for one another, Dr. Chapman discovered five key love languages to be universal and comprehensive, with each of us having a primary love language in which we identify:

  1. Words of Affirmation. Actions don’t always speak louder than words. Unsolicited compliments mean the world to you. Hearing the words, “I love you,” are important. So is hearing the reasons behind that love. Both send your  spirits skyward while insults leave you shattered and are not easily forgotten.
  2. Quality Time. If this is your love language, nothing says, “I love you,” like the full, undivided attention of your partner. Being there is critical, but really being there—with the TV off, fork and knife down, cell phone off, and all chores and tasks on standby—makes your significant other feel truly special and loved. Distractions, postponed dates, or the failure to listen can be especially hurtful.
  3. Receiving Gifts. Not to be confused with materialism, with this love language the receiver of gifts thrives on the love, thoughtfulness, and effort behind the gift, not just the gift itself. The “perfect” gift or gesture demonstrates that you are cared for and valued above the sacrifice made. A missed birthday or a  thoughtless gift would be disastrous as would be the absence of everyday gestures.
  4. Acts of Service. Can doing dishes really be an expression of love? Absolutely! Anything you do to ease the burden of your love one is an “Act of Service” that speaks volumes. The words he or she loves to hear would be: “Let me do that for you.” Laziness, broken commitments, and making more work for them tell speakers of this language their feelings don’t matter.
  5. Physical Touch. This love language is not all about the bedroom. Rather, a person whose primary language is Physical Touch responds to the sense of touch. This includes hugs, pats on the back, holding hands, and thoughtful touches on the arm, shoulder, or face. All demonstrate excitement, concern, care, and yes… love. Physical presence and accessibility are crucial, while neglect or abuse are often unforgivable and/or destructive.

To find out your primary love language and that of your partner, check out the Five Love Languages Test. Knowing how your partner expresses and responds to love will not only open the lines of communications between you, but it will also deepen your relationship and provide greater intimacy. So give your Valentine a gift that keeps on giving every day of the year… give him or her a gift of love spoken in his or her language.

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