The Five Love Languages
The Five Love Languages written by Gary Chapman was published in 2015, but his exploration began in the 1990s decoding the way we express and would like to receive love, how this love makes us feel on an emotional level, and looking for validation in ways that are meaningful to us. Share with your partners how each of you would like to be validated – yes, you can choose more than one!
First, let’s look at the sensorial aspects, with our voice and hearing and our sense of touch. Words of love affirmations are the way our love is expressed; the kind words we blanket on the ones we love. “I love you, I’m proud of you, I embrace you with my love.” Saying them and hearing them just make my day so much better. Those words from both of us sustain us until the next time.
Physical touch, our skin being our biggest organ, is so basic to our survival and a hug can change everything. As an elementary school teacher, when trying to comfort a crying child, I would ask them if they wanted a hug and they usually said yes. Notice that I asked them if they wanted a hug; some people do not respond to hugs and would rather avoid them so do ask first. My fondest memories of my parents in their golden years, was of them sitting on the couch together holding hands. Human contact matters so find your way to a comfortable level of touch.
Before exploring more of the love languages, let’s delve more deeply into why a hug might be important. A hug releases oxytocin, a chemical that makes us feel happy and connected. Oxytocin is released when you hug a another, a pet or a stuffed animal lovey. A hug, even a hand hug, can squeeze out the stress because it’s a happiness magnet. Spending an afternoon walking my grandsons’ pet dog at a park, a little boy, holding his mother’s hand, walked up to me and asked if he could pet June, Yes! and that little boy’s smile said it all.
A more abstract way to show love is to spend time together – just being together even if it is watching television. As our children grew up and established their own lives, we were left as empty nesters. Even if we aren’t parents, there comes a time in our lives when we are retired or dealing with health issues, when quality time plays an even greater role. The time spent together is a true affirmation of love. I learned to love baseball because that proved to be a wonderful way for us to spend time together. Watching the game, yes, I was knitting, but my husband would tell me all about the strategy of the game – it was wonderful and still is!
You may be wanting a more tangible expression of love through gift giving. Does this have to be diamonds, as the saying goes, “diamonds are a girl’s best friend.” Not at all! A beautiful basket of strawberries, red and ripe in season, gardening gloves, a card, a small token of the huge love you have for each other matters. The real joy is in the unexpected gift, when an expression of love would be nice, but a gift, well, that’s the icing on the cake.
The biggest expression of love for me is through unsolicited acts of service which sounds so industrial but read on. On a warm sunny day, I often find my husband outside sweeping the deck and removing all the cobwebs to enrich my enjoyment in the afternoon when I grab my book and head to the backyard for some R&R. It may be that your loved one empties the dishwasher or folds the laundry which are all acts of loving service. Most afternoons, my husband offers to make me a cup of tea, which I relish. And, when one of us is feeling down in the dumps or just unwell, we are there on the spot to take on that extra job to ease their burden. Making a phone call to a friend, running to the grocery store, or picking up the cleaning, any of these things are service expressions of love and compassion.
Self-care Ritual: Dr. Chapman is the author of numerous books but in this one, his message is this: “Love is a choice you make every day.” Make the best loving choice, but most importantly, love yourself. Today is a brand-new day: aspire for more, take chances, be amazing, believe, pursue your passion, have fun, be brave, live your dream, live well, stay strong, and embrace kindness.