Tuesday, March 04, 2014

Love in your language

I know, two posts in one week! I've just been in a writing mood lately and getting in touch with myself. I recently ended a year-long relationship that I was certain I wanted out of, but was ill-prepared for the emotional fallout. That's partly what's got me writing so much, I think, but definitely has me thinking about love and the language that I speak.

What? You don't know the five love languages? Dr. Gary Chapman coined the phrase and explains the five love languages in a book he wrote in 1992 by that title.

Here they are:

This book helped me to identify the ways that I give and receive love by determining which was my primary and which was my secondary love language. I would highly recommend it to anyone who is searching to get in better touch with themselves.

When I came across the book's website tonight, I found a thoughtful blog about being sorry and making restitution. Here's what it says:

When Dr. Jennifer Thomas and I wrote the book: The Five Languages of Apology, we discovered that one of the strong languages of apology is Making Restitution. “What can I do to make this up to you?” If you don’t offer to make restitution, your apology may seem lame. What they want to know is: “Are you really sorry?” and “Do you still love me?” We also discovered that often what they want you to do in order to “make things right” is to speak their love language. One wife said, “I just want you to hold me, I feel so distant from you.” Her love language was physical touch and she wanted to feel that he still loved her. When you make an apology, don’t forget to ask the question: “What can I do to make this up to you?” Then, honor their request. It makes forgiveness much easier.
How often do any of us practice the art of restitution? I can say that I haven't. I usually do feel really sorry when I make a mistake and hurt someone's feelings. But I also know that sometimes the I'm sorry's fall well short of their intended mark--making the other person feel it, know it and accept it. The act of restitution is a way to speak with your actions. It not only says you're sorry to the offended party, but it shows them how deeply felt your apology is.

This goes along with another adage that I truly believe in--Actions speak louder than words.

In the art of speaking someone's love language, there is always that component called "loving actions." You cannot speak love to someone through physical touch without actually reaching out your hand. You cannot speak love to someone through gift giving without actually making the effort to create or purchase the gift. Love without actions is not really love. It's a sentiment and people can't always feel sentiments.

You can have the best intentions in your heart. You can even be motivated by great passion to love someone, but if you just say the words a lot, it doesn't necessarily speak love to the object of your passion. Don't get me wrong, everyone wants to hear "I love you." To what level they accept and believe it is often determined by your actions. How do you back up that love and passion? Remember, the other person can't live inside your body and experience the deep feelings you may have for them. You have to make it real to them in tangible ways.

For example, if your partner loves words of affirmation, go the extra distance and write them a love note or a letter. Spell it out for them, not just with spoken words, but with an action. Don't stop there, either, because written words are still just words. Show that person through loving actions. Say to them, "I don't just love that you are a romantic soul, but I am going to show you how much by..." (you fill-in the blank). This is just an example of not only speaking the persons love language, but backing those words with action.

You really should get to know which are your love languages. It not only reveals to you how you best receive love, but is also an indication of how you show it. If gifts and surprises mean the world to you, then you are probably one of those people who likes to give gifts or plan surprises for those you love. Be fluent in your love language. Naturally, you are going to be better at speaking the one(s) that speak the most to you.

In my case, words of affirmation are number one. I can speak that language very fluently when I want to. But on the flip-side, I have a very critical nature, too. It stands at great juxtaposition with the lover I am on the inside. I have to constantly bite my lip and refrain from speaking negatively to those I love. But when I am being conscious about my words and actions, I can be the best, most affirming person on the planet. This only became apparent to me when I started putting it into practice. And the words of affirmation I have spoken to those I love--heck, even to the people I didn't love that I had to work with--not only changed the expression on their faces, brightening their outlook, but it did a world of good for me, too.

That's the neat circle of speaking love and encouragement. It comes back to you. It's like instant Karma.

Well, I could go on and on, but take the time to read Dr. Chapman's original work, The Five Love Languages. It's probably available at your local library. Make a habit of not only speaking that language fluently, but look for ways to show it, too. Make your lover understand in the most tangible of ways how deeply you feel about them. You only live once. This is your chance to make the most meaningful statement. If you love the person, love them completely and leave no doubt in their mind. My next ride on the merry-go-round of relationships, you better believe that I'm going to!

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