This month I read The 5 Love Languages by marriage counselor Gary Chapman, and it opened my eyes to a whole new way of expressing love in the relationships in my life.
The book claims that there are 5 ways in which men and women feel loved: 1.Through receiving words of affirmation (i.e. Wife tells husband: “You are such a generous person.” Husband tells wife, “You are the best mother I know.”); 2. Quality time (i.e. Husband and wife go on a walk together. Husband and wife have a meal together after shutting off their phones and the football game on TV.; 3. Receiving gifts (i.e. Wife buys husband a new coffee mug. Husband buys wife new amethyst earrings.); 4. Acts of Service (i.e. Wife prepares husband roast beef and string beans, his favorite meal. Husband changes baby’s diaper, even though that’s usually his wife’s job.); 5. Physical Touch.
After reading this book, I figured out that I am a quality time person. I feel loved when my husband and people in general spend undistracted time hanging out with me. The interesting thing, and the biggest problem in marriage and all relationships, Gary Chapman believes, is when people don’t “speak” their loved ones’ love languages.
Here’s a particularly yucky and embarrassing example from my past of being tone-deaf to a loved one’s love language:
I am not a gift person. On my list of love languages, Receiving Gifts is way down at #5. Problem is that I have a close relative whom I love very much for whom receiving gifts is #1. A few years ago, this relative invested time and energy in having a skirt made for me– she bought different colorful fabrics and had them sewn together by a seamstress. When she presented the skirt to me, expressing her love with her personal love language, I wasn’t as excited as she had expected.
“Do you like it?” she asked.
“Thank you so much, but it’s not really my style … Maybe my oldest daughter would like it?”
Her face fell, and to this day she has never given me another gift. Reading The 5 Love Languages makes me understand how my lack of enthusiasm made her feel unloved.
Understanding the 5 Love Languages is important for understanding the emotional needs of our husbands, our children, and other people we love. But it’s just as important for understanding ourselves.
Understanding that I feel loved primarily through spending quality time with family members helps me to make that a priority, to keep my “love tank full.”
After finishing this book, I bought “The 5 Love Languages for Children” and “The 5 Love Languages for Teenagers,” and am looking forward to reading them to get started on figuring out the love languages of my entire family: this child who feels loved when I perform acts of service for her, that child who feels loved when he gets a hug, this child who feels loved when I spend time with her.
Disclaimer: The author of this book is not Jewish, and at one point he makes a reference to Christian sources. The Jewish Marriage Initiative together with Gary Chapman created a version of The Five Love Languages for the Jewish community.